Tomorrow sees the long-awaited publication of The Union #1 by Paul Grist and Andrea Di Vito, with a brand new superhero team for a modern Britain, alongside Marvel legacy hero Union Jack, former holders of that name going back to the second World War. I thought some might appreciate a look ahead with a number of British referenced noted. Very minor spoilers, no big twists, no revelations that there even are big twists…
The Union has their own spin-off television show, it is portrayed in the comic by the writer, Paul Grist, an accomplished cartoonist in his own right, in a simplified fiction-within-fiction form. Precedents for this kind of pacified propagandist version of reality include Miracleman.
A smartphone streaming the news from outside No 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister. The rousing speech is also one redolent, but not a parody of, the current conservative Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Using words like "exemplar" sounds about right. A lot kinder than his recent portrayals in Hellblazer and Once And Future.
As for the superheroes themselves, Britannia is named after the female personification of the British Isles. In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a centurion helmet. The Latin form was revived during the English Renaissance as a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity, especially following the Acts of Union in 1707, which joined the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the personification of the martial Britannia was used as an emblem of British maritime power and unity, most notably in "Rule, Britannia!". She was featured on all modern British coinage.
Snakes represents Northern Ireland – the belief is that St Patrick rid Ireland of all snakes. Though there may not have been any there to begin with. The Choir is Wales, a country known for its male voice choirs, deep in the valley. While Kelpie is named after a Celtic legend of a shape-shifting water spirit inhabiting the lochs and pools of Scotland.
Just as the US has America's Got Talent, Britain has got Britain's Got Talent. and yes, Piers Morgan was a judge on both. Piers is also the host of Good Morning Britain on ITV, which airs from 6am. In The Union comic book, Phil is Piers Morgan and Suzanne is Susanna Reid.
Piers Morgan used to be a gossip columnist for The Sun before being editor of The Mirror. Good Morning UK is really close to Good Morning Britain. And Soopey-McSooperheroclub is very close to the name the British public voted on for a naval explorer, Boaty McBoatface, rather than the one they actually went with names after David Attenborough. Though, spoilers, we know what the final version will be, it's in the title.
That totally sounds like Piers Morgan too. The government MP, named Selwyn, is named after former conservative MP and Secretary of State for the Environment John Selwyn Gummer who famously, during the Mad Cow disease scandal, got his four-year-old daughter to eat a burger on camera.
While Darwin seems to be somewhere between industrialists Richard Branson, James Dyson and Peter Jones, with just a touch of Tony Blair.
Go back another ten years and the initial practice game for Union Jack seems to bring forth images of the Falklands War, though this one seems a little closer to the mainland. Thing is, in the UK, unlike the USA, you don't see a lot of flags, aside from royal events, the Great British Bake-Off, the Last Night Of The Proms and going to war.
And yes, Saint George, the patron saint of England, meant to have killed a dragon, of a Turkish father and Palestinian mother, born in Greece and becoming a Roman soldier, he sentenced to death for refusing to recant Christianity to the emperor, and adopted by the English as a patron saint during the Crusades. At some point martyrdom wasn't enough so they threw in a dragon as well. Well, it is a King In Black crossover…
The Union #1 is published in comic book shops by Marvel Comics, tomorrow,
THE UNION #1 (OF 5) KIB
(W) Paul Grist (A) Andrea Di Vito, Paul Grist (CA) R. B. Silva
The grand unveiling of The Union! A team of super heroes gathered from all over the United Kingdom, featuring Union Jack, Snakes, Kelpie, Choir, and their fearless leader, Brittania! But when disaster strikes on their first public debut, in the form of the invasion of Empyre, the fledgling team is immediately pushed to their limits! Don't miss out on an exciting new chapter of Marvel from legendary creators, Paul Grist (JUDGE DREDD, JACK STAFF) and Andrea Di Vito! Rated T+In Shops: Dec 02, 2020 SRP: $3.99