Captain Canuck. Artist: George Freeman.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Comely Comics
First Appeared: 1975
Creators: Ron Leishman and Richard Comely
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Captain Canuck wasn't the first Canadian superhero. He was preceded by The Black Avenger, Nelvana of the Northern Lights and several others back in the 1940s. In fact, even in the modern era, he was anticipated by Marvel Comics' Wolverine, tho Wolvie was still some years away from achieving star status when the Captain showed up. He did beat Captain Britain into print by a year, giving him the probable distinction of being the first whose creators …

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… apparently figured that if there was a Captain America, why not a "captain" representing another country?

Cap first appeared in Captain Canuck #1, published by the start-up company Comely Comics with a cover date of July, 1975. The series was set in the near future, so near that time has since turned it into the recent past (1993). The prospect of Canada becoming a superpower by that time is now long dead, but in '75 it was a viable if remote possibility, so a Canadian CIA-like outfit (The Canadian International Security Organization) as part of the background of the series wasn't so implausible it couldn't at least be used in a comic book.

Captain Canuck was Tom Evans, who was, like other Canadian adventure protagonists from King of the Royal Mounted to Dudley Do-Right, a Mountie. He was leading a bunch of Boy Scouts on a camping trip, when the group had an encounter with a UFO. In the process, he got zapped with a ray, which is probably why he was the only one who was sure the vague memory the incident left was real. Also, probably why he was twice as strong and fast as he'd been before. This attracted attention from the CISO, and pretty soon he was working for them. They were the ones who set up the superhero persona, characterizing him as the living symbol of the country, Captain Canuck.

Tom had a second reason for superheroing. His brother Mike was crippled by terrorists. Thus, when he went time traveling and inadvertently made a few subtle changes in the past, which eliminated the CISO's existence in the "present", he was still motivated to be Captain Canuck. But with his financing gone, he had to seek alternate revenue streams. He wound up selling hoked-up versions of his adventures to a comic book company, tying him right back in with the real world.

The creators of the character are Ron Leishman, who had the original idea, and Richard Comely, who brought him to life. Neither has extensive credits in the field. The cartoonist most associated with him, with the possible exception of Comely, is George Freeman. The publisher, Comely Comics, also wasn't known for much else — in fact, it existed mainly as a vehicle for getting Captain Canuck into print. The title lasted only four issues at first, published over the space of two years, but was brought back as a bimonthly after a two-year hiatus. That stint ended with its March-April 1981 issue, #14. There was also a special in 1980, and the unpublished 15th issue was finally released in 2004.

In 1993, using the publishing imprint "Semple Comics", Comely brought the character back in a new form. Utopian entrepreneur Darren Oak, faced with a vexing problem that could be eased by the creation of a superhero identity, was inspired by Captain Canuck comic books to become the new Captain Canuck. His stories were published only sporadically, and petered out after four issues.

A third Captain Canuck appeared in 2004, when Mountie David Semple, also inspired by the comic books, put on the outfit to take on a bunch of bikers calling themselves The Unholy Avengers. (no relation). That incarnation appeared as a three-issue mini-series and hasn't been extended into new adventures.

Meanwhile, the original Captain Canuck hasn't been forgotten. He's appeared on a Canadian postage stamp, as well as in a variety of merchandising products available throughout North America. He's also in a syndicated comic strip by Freeman, appearing in seven newspapers. Rumors persist of a new mini-series about him, or even a movie.

These rumors may or may not be true, but one thing is certain. Captain Canuck has staying power, even if he hasn't been able to remain in print on a sustained basis. One way or another, he'll undoubtedly be back.


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Text ©2006-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Comely Comics.