This Canada Day I would like to share with you my national superhero, who you may or may not have heard of. His name is Captain Canuck, and today seems like a good time to celebrate him a little as well.
Captain Canuck is not known for his wide reaching influence across the world, nor his stature as a high profile superhero in any popular comic universe. But for a period of time he was pretty well known in the Great White North. That’s Canada, if you don’t get the reference. Still don’t recognize the above character? What if I show you a picture of the original Captain Canuck?
Still nothing? Captain Canuck is an agent for the Canadian International Security Organization (CISO) and later CSIS, Canada’s actual security organization. He is a very political and patriotic hero fighting the good fight in the far away future of 1993. Most often described as Flash Gordon mixed with Captain America, Captain Canuck first arrived in 1975 as the brainchild of Richard Comely. Over the years the uniform and title have been worn by three different Canadians.
Canuck’s first appearance was in 1975, published by Comely Comix of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The story followed Tom Evans, a Canadian secret agent who gained superhuman strength from contact with extraterrestrials. This first version of the Canadian superhero ran for three issues before going on hiatus in 1976. In 1979, it came back, with Comely being backed by CKR Productions, and publishing 11 more issues, plus a summer special, concluding in 1981; it was drawn mostly by George Freeman, taking over from Comely, who was pushed out of CKR about midway through the run. In 2004, the completed issue #15 was finally published in a limited edition by Comely.
Since the original there have been two newer incarnations of the Canadian icon: Comely launched a second version in 1993, under the banner of Semple Comics. Set in the present, Captain Canuck: Reborn featured a new Captain Canuck, Darren Oak, who fought a global conspiracy. This title lasted only four issues (#0-3) and was drawn by Richard Comely, Leonard Kirk and Sandy Carruthers with inks by Eric Theriault. That incarnation continued as a newspaper comic strip for a short while.
A third incarnation (sometimes called the “West Coast Captain Canuck”), edited by Comely but written and drawn by brothers Riel and Drue Langlois, appeared in 2004 under the banner of Comely Comics, entitled Captain Canuck: Unholy War. Yet another man, RCMP Constable David Semple, adopts the guise of Captain Canuck, to take on a biker gang called the Unholy Avengers. “Unholy War” was slated as a three-issue mini-series, the third and final installment being published in January 2005. However, the series came out with a fourth issue (under the ‘Hot Hail Comics’ banner) in August 2007, which fully concluded the character.
So while Captain Canuck has not had a long running series ever, he has certainly been around for a long time and developed a cult following with Canadians and collectors. He was Canada’s superhero, someone to look up to and aspire to, but nowadays he is fondly remembered by fans. Or just confused with Marvel’s Guardian, a member of their Canadian super team Alpha Flight.
Now I can hear some of you laughing in the back, and that’s fine. Yes, Captain Canuck is corny, his costume is slightly ridiculous and he right away seems like a Captain America rip-off. But then again, doesn’t Captain Britain? Or Union Jack? Or any of the numerous nation-related heroes out there that serve their country? What’s more important is that he is a symbol of the country and its feelings. Captain Canuck was there for Canada at a time of extreme nationalism, and his actions and stories reflected the best parts of the country when we needed it most. Just like Captain America in World War II, although Canuck has always been more concerned with Canadian problems then in getting involved in other countries. Go figure.
With the superhero film industry taking off over the last few years there have been a few rumored film adaptations in the works, though nothing solid has really passed the rumor stage. Recently a re-imagined version of the character appeared online in the form of a web series, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s even fairly star-studded, with Kris Holden-Ried (Lost Girl) providing the voice of Captain Canuck, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Redcoat, Laura Vandervoort (Bitten) as Bluefox, and Paul Amos (Lost Girl) as Mr. Gold. I’ll leave you with the first episode below, but be sure to check out the full Captain Canuck Web Series to celebrate with my fellow Canucks.
Happy Canada Day!
Images: Comely Comics, Semple Comics, Time Magazine, Marvel Comics, CC Inc.