Victor Wiebe

Captain Canuck: Unholy War

The last we saw of Captain Canuck, at the end of his original series in the early 1980’s, Canuck himself had been time-displaced into what would be his not-too-distant past and had begun to act as an independent hero making a name for himself. Though never seen on page, it is assumed that the rest of his colleagues – Redcoat and Kebec, in particular – continued the good fight.

Fast forward to 2004 and we now have Captain Canuck: Unholy War. Originally published as a three issue mini series, a fourth issue was published a few years later to fully complete the story arc.

We now see a character named David Semple pick up the mantle of Captain Canuck. David Semple is an RCMP officer who, in an effort to combat a local gang named the Unholy Avengers, decides that he can best do so as a superhero. He has no super powers. He has no tragic backstory. He has nothing other than a partner – who quickly discerns who he is – and eventually a gadget-producing ally who provides him with the gadgets he needs to be a true superhero.

Why did David Semple choose to become Captain Canuck? In his history, the original Captain Canuck was a comic book series about Tom Evans who ultimately inspired David. So, it’s a comic-in-a-comic. Hard to think about, but interesting.

Like the original Captain Canuck, Semple chooses not to engage in activities that would inflict permanent harm on his adversaries; in fact, as a former amateur baseball pitcher, one of Semple’s preferred weapons is a billiard ball which he can throw with great accuracy. And I suspect that getting hit with a billiard ball would hurt. A lot.

Captain Canuck: Unholy War is written and drawn by brothers Riel (writer) and Drue (artist) Langlois. The story is written in a lighthearted, playful tone that is easy to read, even during the “action” sequences. The interaction and back and forth banter between Semple and his RCMP partner, Keith Smoke.

The Langlois’ brothers style works well together, with playful facial expressions smattered across the wisecracking banter. The one negative is that the art does not hold up well during the action sequences and doesn’t convey the sense of importance that is sometimes necessary. That said, the rest of the story works really well.

Unholy War has all the things that a good Captain Canuck story should have – a capabale partner able to take care of himself, fast action, regular people doing regular things and, of course, a Mister Gold, the primary antagonist (along with a PSA against smoking):

By the time the story gets to the denoument, Semple finds himself in a hard way with Gold when he suddenly gets an unexpected assist:

“What??”” you may ask? Well, as it turns out, the original Captain Canuck really was a time-hopping superhero who ended up in Semple’s time; to make money for himself, he printed his own adventures in comic-book form and, in the process, inspired David Semple! This may be confusing, but can easily be understood with a simple explanation from Dr. Who:

Issue 4 of the series, published in 2007, concludes this particular chapter of not one, but two Captain Canuck storylines. Tom Evans attempts to return to his own time, and David Semple finds himself beginning new adventures, without the Captain Canuck moniker… in outer space!

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