We Need A New Captain Britain And It Needs To Be Faiza Hussain
If you’ve been following the news, you may be aware that the United Kingdom is currently teetering on the brink, and every hour seems to bring some new catastrophe straight out of the most biting satire. Throughout Europe and across the world, Britain is currently seen as an embarrassment and a cautionary tale about what happens when fear and prejudice is used to change the future of a nation.
That’s why it’s time for a new Captain Britain, one who embodies the most positive qualities of our country, who can serve as an example of what the country is truly about. We need a Captain Britain who is of the people, who represents the very best of the nation that I call home. We need Faiza Hussain.
Brian Braddock has held the mantle of Captain Britain almost exclusively since his creation by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe in 1976. There was a brief period where his sister Betsy took the mantle, and working class mum Kelsey Leigh carried the name briefly as a member of the Avengers, but for the most part, Brian Braddock is Captain Britain. However, he does not truly represent the British people, and arguably he never has.
Captain America was a poor kid from Brooklyn; the son of Irish immigrants who died while Steve Rogers was still a teen. He did everything he could to join the war effort until he was chosen for Project: Rebirth and became Captain America.
Brian Braddock comes from money. He’s pretty much nobility. He has a mansion in the middle of nowhere, a maid, and a secret malevolent computer living underneath his house. I don’t know about you, fellow Brits, but I don’t know many people like that.
Brian Braddock has almost been subsumed by the idea of the multiversal Captain Britain Corps, of which he is occasionally a member or a leader, and it often takes his focus away from the day-to-day problems that faces the nation. He doesn't need to go away, but he can stay on Otherworld in a mentor role to a brand new Captain Britain that does represent modern Britain: Faiza Hussain.
Faiza Hussain is a Muslim doctor from Pakistani family who works for the NHS. To my mind there is no-one better suited to take over the mantle of Captain Britain full time.
Originally introduced in the pages of Captain Britian and MI:13 by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk, Faiza was on the ground during the Skrulls invasion of England, and was blasted by an alien ray that gave her the rather gross power to disassemble people into their component parts and rearrange the molecules, which is actually quite handy when you’re a doctor. When Captain Britain returned from the dead, he defeated the Skrulls and planted the sword Excalibur in the ground to await a person worthy of wielding it, only for Faiza to pull it out with ease, assuming the hero had forgotten it.
She would go on to join MI:13 as Black Knight’s squire and apprentice, eventually developing a romantic relationship with him and adopting the codename Excalibur. When Dracula attacked the United Kingdom in an attempt to make it the new sovereign home of vampires, he knew that Excalibur was a threat, so he abducted her father and turned him into a vampire --- yet it was at Faiza’s hand that he met his demise.
Faiza Hussain actually has a lot in common with Ms. Marvel, aside from the reductive comparisons that they are both female Muslim characters in an industry overwhelmingly populated with white men. Similar to Kamala, Faiza is extremely enthusiastic about being a superhero, due to a lifelong love of heroes. It’s rare to see someone that enjoys their job as much as characters like Faiza or Kamala, and it’s refreshing to see that among the ranks of dour “burden of responsibility” lead characters.
Faiza mostly vanished following the end of Captain Britain and MI:13, but she dud reappear in Avengers Assemble #15 AU by Al Ewing and Butch Guice, which saw Captain Marvel stranded in the UK during the Age of Ultron. Over the course of the issue, Brian Braddock realized that his mission to keep Britain safe is one he won’t return from, and he passed the mantle of Captain Britain to the most deserving person, Faiza Hussain.
Brian’s explanation as to why Faiza deserves to be Captain Britain perhaps says more than I can in a thousand words. She’s a healer and someone who doesn’t hate and doesn’t kill. Earlier in the issue, Brian also refers to Black Knight’s Ebony Sword as the Anti-Excalibur that represents the “other Britain” that pours hate and fear on those that need kindness, and right now in the real world we need the opposite of that.
Faiza!Cap returned in the overlooked and underappreciated Secret Wars tie-in Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders by Ewing and Alan Davis, who without a doubt is the artist most associated with Captain Britain. The two part series saw Faiza as Captain Britain arrive in the peaceful realm of Yinsen City where she revealed the truth of God Doom’s tyrannical rise to power.
As a result, Doom destroyed the wall separating Yinsen City from the Judge Dredd-alike Mondo City, and its enforcers arrested the Defenders and threw them into “temporary detention centers”. That panel above? That is in part a direct quote from outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron following the Conservatives' general election victory last year. That’s the kind of person we’ve had running our country, and the current leadership crisis in the Conservative Party could lead to someone worse taking his place.
In the end, Captain Britain saved the day not with a big blowout, but with empathy. When she had the chance to defeat Big Boss Hill of Mondo City, Faiza instead asked if she was okay, and Hill realized there was merit in talking, understanding, and negotiation. While we’re comparing Faiza to popular Marvel characters of the moment, it’s a very Unbeatable Squirrel Girl solution, as Doreen Green is just as likely to sit down and talk it out with Galactus as she is to eat nuts and kick butts.
Great Britain is a mess right now, and we’re the laughing stock of the world. Our future is uncertain, our leaders are brazenly corrupt and selfish, and there’s a good chance the United Kingdom may not be so united in a couple of years' time. Nationalistic propaganda has led to a rise in public displays of racism and hate crimes, which is something that unfortunately always existed, but now the offenders feel emboldened and supported like never before.
The power of heroes is real; I choose to believe that. It’s why Superman is my favorite character. Britain needs someone who represents the very best of our nation; our multiculturalism, our stiff upper lip and affable self-deprecation, even our National Health Service. Faiza Hussain is everything I love about Great Britain, and she makes me proud to be British, and if someone is going to represent my nation in superhero comic books, there’s no better candidate.