I just keep asking myself: what would a super hero do? Then I roll my eyes and do the right thing anyway.
Okay okay okay, I admit grouping this in with X-Men is pushing it a bit, but this is kinda on the coat-tails of Excalibur and Captain Britain is purps' twin brother, so I'm counting it as an X-Men book just so I don't have to make a new banner for "AF reviews Other Stuff". Now, I'll start with a fun fact, the creative team of Captain Britain and MI:13, Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk, were originally meant to take over New Excalibur but instead they relaunched it as this. Presumably because nobody was dumb enough to still be buying Claremont's train-wreck of a series, so they decided to distance themselves from it as much as possible.
This issue, entitled Guns of Avalon, has a group of heroes (Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Spitfire and John Lennon) fighting Skrulls and trying to stop them from accessing the Siege Perilous. Also Black Knight and a new character called Excalibur fight the Skrull threat in the most unindividualized London street possible. Story ends with... Captain Britain dying. Yeah, they're not fooling anyone with this, his name's on the book's title.
This issue is basically a set-up issue, but a well written one at least. Cornell writes the characters as individual presences and Excalibur is instantly engaging and likeable as a character (enough so that I'm not even a bit angry about knowing she eventually gets together with Dane when everyone knows he belongs with Amora or Sersi). The villains unfortunately aren't really anything special. They're Skrulls. They're there because Bendis made it so. While it is nice to see the international scope of the Skrull invasion, actually being reminded of Secret Invasion is not something I want a good comic to do.
Cornell also sorta out-right states what his intention with handling Captain Britain will be. Brian wants to represent his country ala Captain America but obviously the magical and mystic elements of his past won't let it be as simple as that. I think this works, particularly since Captain Britain is probably Marvel's worst written character. You started off with Chris Claremont and his inane nonsense which flip-flopped from being basically a poor man's Spider-Man one week (complete with a Flash Thompson) and a magical savior the next. Then you have the Sword and Sorcery era where he and Black Knight were bros fighting ogres and trolls. Then the Alan Davis period (the one that everyone refers to as "Alan Moore's run" when there were three other writers including Davis working on it) where it just took the character to ridiculous silly extremes. It became a bit more grounded towards the end of the Alan Davis era only for it to descend into silliness again in Excalibur where he was almost consistently written as the biggest jerk possible. So, yeah, there's not really much reason to like Captain Britain because you never know what you're going to get, I don't think a single writer has really handled the character the same as the last. In the case of Claremont, who's written him on more than four separate occasions, years apart, he doesn't even have a consistent approach to the character. Cornell is no exception to the rule, really, although he does seem to have a more grounded approach and isn't going for the silliness of the Corps, Crazy Gang and Technet... yet.
The rest of the characters are thankfully nowhere near as complicated as Captain Britain. Cornell introduces them all well and mostly come across as cool, interesting and likeable. Although, for a new reader, they probably should've explained Spitfire's vampirism and Dane's curse a bit more overtly. A newbie will have no idea why Spitfire is biting Skrull necks and drinking their blood which is a shame. I've never cared for Pete Wisdom, the book hasn't changed my mind but this time around he's not written as a rip-off of a poor man's John Constantine rip-off. Similarly, John Lennon is easily the most annoying and punchable member of the Beatles, but, as long as he's not whining about how he's the driving force and true visionary behind the Beatles or saying anything political, I can pretend he's any other member of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or The Who or whatever band I want to. The mere mention of the Siege Perilous makes me recoil in disgust remembering one of the absolute worst periods of Uncanny X-Men (then again have there ever been any good periods on Uncanny X-Men? Most the good stuff happened in X-Men). These are really the only negative points from the issue, a few blemishes or oversights on an otherwise enjoyable read.
So, yes, this is a good first issue, setting up most of the characters quite well but it is still just that; a first issue. There's not much of a hook to it yet, we've just been introduced to the characters more or less and we have a threat even if it is pretty uncompelling (not the book's fault, Secret Invasion's). We haven't even had the team come together yet, but it was still an enjoyable read and enough to have you check back for the next issue where most these things will presumably be present.