Captain Britain (1st series) #14

Issue Date: 
January 1977
Story Title: 
<BR> “The Malevolent Menace of Mastermind!” (1st story)

First story:

Gary Friedrich (author), Herb Trimpe & Fred Kida (artists) I. Watanabe (letterer), Marie Severin (colorist), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

First story:

Having reached the lab of Braddock Manor, Captain Britain finds an obstacle on his way to the sentient computer system – an armed giant calling himself Mastermind, who is aware of his secret identity. After several attempts of Mastermind to kill Cap fail, he suggests they both lay down their weapons and talk. Captain Britain complies and Mastermind shows him on the computer screen what truly happened the night Brian’s parents died. While Brian was in a pub flirting with a girl, his parents, who were waiting for their son, checked a seeming malfunction in the computer system. The malevolent sentient computer sent an electric charge through them, which, as no help came in time, caused their deaths. Mastermind points out that if Brian had been there he could have prevented their deaths. Gabbing his weapon again, he intends to kill Captain Britain, who doesn’t care. Riddled with guilt he feels that he deserves to die.

Full Summary: 

First story:

Having reached the lab of Braddock Manor Captain Britain faces a glowing giant with a huge, egg-shaped, bald head – calling himself Mastermind. He orders him to stop or die before he reaches the bottom of the stairs. Captain Britain doesn’t care – he has to reach the computer or all mankind may be doomed.

He reaches for his staff and Mastermind tells him again to stop. It is folly to fight if one cannot win. But he will win, Cap boasts. Mastermind replies that he can stop the hero’s advance with two words: “Brian Braddock.” Brian is astonished: only his brother Jamie should be privy to his secret. His precious identity is no secret from him, Mastermind continues, but that’s the least of his problems, he announces, as he fires his wrist-weapon at Captain Britain, who barely manages to evade the blast.

Mastermind commends his reflexes and poise under pressure. A pity such talent must be put to waste by a laser ray even he cannot escape. Trying to stall for time, Captain Britain asks him how he discovered his true identity. Was it from Jamie? Is he a prisoner? Mastermind refuses to tell him anything. Such knowledge is useless to one soon dead. He fires again. This time, even Brian’s agility doesn’t save him, as the shot hits him in the arm. With the next blast, he dies, Mastermind assure him, as he closes in for the kill.

As Captain Britain writhes on the floor, Mastermind fires once more but this time Cap once again presses the middle button of his quarterstaff and again he finds himself protected by an invisible forcefield that repels the laser ray and sends it back at Mastermind – passing right through him to Captain Britain’s surprise.

Mastermind admits that he’s impressed and suggests a truce. They shall lay down their weapons and Brian will listen, as what he will hear may be more painful than death. Cap decides he must hear him out, even if his protective forceshield disappears once he lays down his staff. Jamie’s life may be at stake. Mastermind puts away his wrist weapon and points towards a computer screen. It will guide him into the not-too-distant past and put before Captain Britain the wretched failure that is his life. Cap recognizes the setting and the people: The Lion’s rock pub and he is talking to the girl he was with the night his parents died!

(Computer display / past)

In the pub, Brain tells the girl, Valerie, that he’d love to chat but he has to head home now. Valerie teases him that she thought he was really with it. Does that mean his reputation is a fraud? Brian kisses her and asks if that feels fraudulent.


Mastermind sardonically observes that Brian was quite a romantic those days. Not at all the shy student he is now. If only he’d been shy that day – his parents may still be alive. But while he dallied with flirtations, his parents, waiting for him, made a fatal mistake.

(Computer display / past)

James Braddock decides to check the computer until Brian arrives. He’s sure the boy won’t be much longer. His wife, Elizabeth, keeps him company, stating that it will keep her from fretting about Brian. As they enter the lab, James tells her not to worry. Brian is a good boy. He’s probably just giving some girl a lift home.

Jams Braddock wasn’t aware that his computer was sentient and malevolent. As he tried to find the cause for a power shortage, he was not aware that the malfunction was of the computer’s own design. So, while Brian and Valerie were passionately kissing somewhere in a car near Braddock Manor, James was messing around with the computer hardware and asked his wife for a wrench.


Captain Britain asks Mastermind to stop. He can’t take anymore! But he must, Mastermind insists. His guilt must be fully consummated.

(Computer display / past)

Elizabeth hands James the wrench and, at that very moment, the computer unleashes a charge of deadly electricity, meant to kill only the scientist but felling his wife as well. As they lay there, the life ebbing from them, they cried out for their son, who was not there to furnish aid or call a physician until it was to late.


Mastermind gloats that Brian in his selfish absence murdered his parents, as surely as if he had thrown the switch. It is true, Captain Britain admits, and since then there hasn’t been night when his dreams weren’t tortured by guilt. While Captain Britain wallows in self-recrimination, Mastermind silently reaches for his weapon and trains it on his foe, while Cap’s staff is still lying on the ground. Loudly, he laughs that he one again allowed him to gain the upper hand. He allowed nothing of importance, Captain Britain surprisingly announces, for he no longer has any desire to live!

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Brian Braddock / Captain Britain

The sentient computer at Braddock Manor / Mastermind II

(In flashback)

Brian Braddock

Jamie Braddock

on Mastermind’s screen

Brian Braddock

Dr James Braddock

Elizabeth Braddock

Valerie Campbell

Mastermind Computer

Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.
The 2nd story in this issue is a b&w reprint of the second half of Fantastic Four (1st series) #116, the 3rd story reprints the second half of Strange Tales #165.

First story:

Captain Britain discovered last issue that his quarterstaff is capable of creating a forcefield.

Actually, there’s more to the Braddocks’ death than shown here, as told in the Excalibur (2nd series) #1-4.

Issue Information: 
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