You know, since posting this article I have had a couple of people ask me just how I have this glowing opinion of Brian. They can see it from MI13, but that they never saw that from Excalibur.
So I asked them where they read up to on Excalibur. The answer was somewhere in the #40s/50s. What else happened in the run? To which I had to explain that quitting around the #50 mark they actually missed probably the most important character changing event for Brian in the whole decade, and one which certainly one which has had wide reaching effects in many stages of his development in the years since.
Brian's time lost in the timestream.
It wasn't popular at the time, because it came at the very start of Scott Lobdell's run on Excalibur, off-panel, and with only an editor's note to explain its occurrence. It was no more popular when Brian actually returned, because it was not as 'Captain Britain' but as the long haired automaton 'Britannic'.
Britannic initially claimed not to be Brian, but to be something different. It had no pupils in its eyes, a Fabio style haircut and a ceaseless need to ensure the future it had seen came to pass...
But as time went on more and more of Brian shone back through. He still had occasional 'flashforwards,' glimpses of the future, but it was clear that the time he spent there had left him forever changed. Having seen the whole of human history, front to back, as Lobdell's run gave way to Warren Ellis' we saw Brian decide that he believed all war, all fighting, to be ultimately pointless. He announced to the team that he was now both a Pacifist and would be removing himself from active duty. He remained with Excalibur though, as a non-combatant, overseeing the maintenance and improval of their tech.
Such as the Moonlight Flip, Excalibur's high tech transport. An incredibly technologically advanced craft, with a full state of the art medical bay. As Nightcrawler discovered, however (in having to engage in an air battle with Black Air) technologically advanced or no, Pacifist Brian had quite intentionally decided that it wouldn't actually have any on-board weapons systems... :)
This was really the turning point back towards what we have known since as the modern Brian. The Pacifist days did not last in entirity. Brian returned to duty in the long run, even reclaimed the mantle of 'Captain Britain,' but the Brian we read throughout that period and beyond was always shown as a shrewd tactician and negotiator. He was shown to be intelligent, calm and level-headed.
Heck, when Colossus admitted to Brian that he had gotten a little too close to Meggan, during Brian's brief spell away from the team in the late Excalibur the 80s Brian would probably have punched him out. Instead he simply went to Meggan, apportioned no blame on her, and apologised for having left her alone for so long.
He was a changed man. And it's important to know about these things, because without them the more recent run of Captain Britain & MI13, 2000s Excalibur limited series, even NEW Excalibur might seem like Brian was uncharacteristically calm and in control, compared to those early Excalibur issues.
Where in reality it was they which were quite the exception to the rule.