Well then. Yesterday – St George’s Day in the UK – saw the announcement of a brand new superhero, soon to grace our digital comic shelves: Englishman. Apparently, not a spoof!
Front and centre stands Englishman, aping the Iron Man glove of doom, most likely powered by English magic rather than Stark-technology. His sleek look is certainly a departure from the “I’m not Captain America” Captain Britain, dispenses with the cape much loved by The Hood, and avoids being quite as terrifying to look at as Union Jack.
Joining him on the cover promo art we have: a rather skinny Thor-lite, perhaps representing England’s pagan past; a moss-man named Greenbelt, quite possibly the scourge of city planners everywhere; Dry Stone Wall, named for the UK’s err, numerous ancient walls; a sultry woman with what looks like… bunny ears? (possibly either the Easter/fertility bunny or a Tinners’ Hare); a dude who looks suspiciously like Guy Fawkes, our celebrated failure of a terrorist; and finally what looks like a sentient version of the Cerne Abbas Giant chalk hill figure, minus his gigantic and upstanding dong.
There’s not much information at present about the powers or indeed storylines for this new hero, other than what the eco-friendly Mohawk Media have released on their blog. Writer Chris Bunting, of the Mr T and Action Man comic series states:
I often feel quite envious of the patriotism that so many other countries display, but ‘England’ has almost become a forgotten, even a dirty, word.
To paraphrase the historian David Starkey, we should celebrate, and not be ashamed of, England.
To help address this, just as the US has its Captain America, I realised that England needed its own patriotic super hero: enter Englishman.
This is the most ambitious, dark and controversial title that I’ve yet written. But expect fun, fireworks, and my usual irreverence.
While the publisher goes further and states:
Eco Comics believe Englishman to be the first English comic book hero to receive his own series. It seems that characters such as Captain Britain cannot be classed as patriotic: there is, of course, no such country as ‘Britain’.
As David Barnett points out in The Guardian, English patriotism has a rather troubled history, partly down to the shadow of the British Empire, and partly down to the use of the English flag as a rallying call for neo-nazi and right-wing extremist groups (and football thugs) – a problem that the Great Britain’s smaller countries (Scotland and Wales – also not particularly good at football) don’t share. The mention of David Starkey is more than a little worrying concerning his dabbling in the pool of outright racism in the name of loving his country, which resulted in his oft-used honorary UK title of Colossal Bell-End.
As a Scot though, I’ll be interested in seeing where this is going and I fervently hope that Scotsman, complete with his “och aye the noo” catchphrase and Welshman, complete with his leek-powered weaponry, are on their way. The UK’s general attitude towards patriotism is one of self-mockery and knowing buffoonery surrounding tea drinking aristocrats cycling their way to telephone boxes… can Englishman really be without humour given these character choices? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.
Written by Chris Bunting with art by Valentin Ramon, Englishman will be digitally published by Eco Comics, with further details yet to be announced.
*cough, Ally Sloper, cough.