Captain Britain (1st series) #18

Issue Date: 
February 1977
Story Title: 
<BR> “S.H.I.E.L.D. Strikes Out!” (1st story)

First story: Gary Friedrich (author), Herb Trimpe & Fred Kida (artists) I. Watanabe (letterer), Goege Roussos (colorist), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

First story:

Captain Britain and Captain America cannot escape from the cell that is being pumped full of gas. However, the gas is not poisonous, as the Red Skull sadistically intends to prolong their lives until the STRIKE attack on Braddock Manor. When they wake up again, Captain America urges Captain Britain to try out his Quarterstaff’s third button. As a result, a part of the wall is blasted and they are free. They race towards the computer lab, where the Red Skull has taken the computer schematics he needs. The heroes intend to stop him but the Skull points them to a screen. On it, they see that Captain Britain’s siblings are being held hostage. While the heroes debate what to do, the Skull teleports out with the information, telling them that soon the building will be destroyed. In the meantime, Nick Fury has joined Tod Radcliffe and other STRIKE agents in a Recon mission over Braddock Manor, none of the aware that Radcliffe secretly works for the Skull, though Fury has a bad feeling about the other man. Once they are over Braddock Manor, Radcliffe presses a button which causes steel bonds to tie Fury to his seat and then orders the other planes to bomb Braddock Manor.

Full Summary: 

First story:

The situation is desperate: Captain America and Captain Britain are trapped in a cell at Braddock Manor and poisonous gas is being pumped into the room. After all his battles with the Red Skull, the villain has finally beaten him, America desperately announces. Not yet, Britain insists, there may still be a chance …

While Captain America collapses, Captain Britain presses the second button on his Quarterstaff, hoping that the forcefield will keep the gas out. He hopes in vain as the gas penetrates the field and he too collapses. Watching his two fallen foes, the Red Skull gloats that they thought their death was at hand. They should have known that he wouldn’t make their demise that easy.

He turns to another screen and addresses Tod Radcliffe, deputy director of SHIELD’s British counterpart, STRIKE, and the Skull’s mole in that organization. The Red Skull enquires whether Radcliffe’s STRIKEforce is ready to attack Braddock Manor. All systems are go, the traitor assures him. Fury is raising some trouble but nothing he can’t handle. The Skull orders him to proceed and destroy the mansion and adds that then the two Captains will know the horror of dying twice on the same day.

The Skull signs off and Radcliffe, at the secret subterranean headquarters of STRIKE, is joined by the aforementioned Nick Fury, who impatiently asks what’s holding him up. Is he waiting for the Queen to kiss him good-bye? Radcliffe coolly replies that they don’t make fun of her Majesty in this country but he supposes respect and manners aren’t part of an American’s education. What’s his problem, Fury shoots back. Captain America missing, Nazis planning a revolution and he’s discussing manners? No need to raise his voice, Radcliffe chides him and gets up. He offers his hand and suggests they embark on this mission as friends. Ok, they’re bosom buddies, Fury impatiently replies, but he can keep the paw-grabbing for the next tea party.

After a brief ride on a pneumatic shuttle, the men arrive at STRIKE’s undersea air base. Fury asks if those aircrafts fly as well as they look. Splendidly, Radcliffe boasts. Despite their limited budget, those crafts are actually superior to any American ones thanks to the brakes put on the American military by the Congress. How about he gets his jollies some other way than by needling him, Fury suggests, as they both strap in. Fury’s suspicious. When you’ve been in the business as long as he has, you get gut feelings about people. And Radcliffe gives off vibes that spell bad news.

Back at Braddock Manor, the two heroes awake in their cell, realizing that the nerve gas wasn’t deadly. They puzzle how to get out of the cell. Maybe Captain Britain’s staff is the answer, Captain America suggests. Has he ever pressed the third button? He’s been reluctant to, Britain admits, fearing the full extent of its powers. He raises the staff and presses the button – and nothing happens. A moment later, however, he feels a vibration and the portion of the wall the staff was pointed at is destroyed. Suggesting they ponder the way how this exactly worked at another time, Captain Britain reminds his partner that they have an account to settle with the Red Skull.

But the villain is busying himself with his last preparation, for in ten minutes the building will turn to a blazing inferno. A funeral pyre for his despised enemy and his friend. He stores tapes and other information into a box, information to build a new more powerful computer to usher in the glorious Fourth Reich. Thanks for the confession, Captain Britain announces, as the two heroes run into the lab. Looks like he’s blown it again, Captain America tells his old enemy, who scoffs that they are still doomed.

Captain Britain jumps at the Skull and hits him in the face. He follows this up by hitting him in the chest with the Quarterstaff. The Skull tells him to look at the screen behind him before he strikes again. On the screen, they see Jamie and Betsy Braddock tied up and guarded by one of the Skull’s men. Apparently aware of the transmission, they beg their brother not to let them die.
Captain Britain doesn’t know what to do. If he lets the Skull escape, everybody may die!

Meanwhile, above Braddock Manor, the STRIKEforce closes in. Radcliffe orders the squadron to prepare missiles for an attack. Fury protests. This was supposed to be a recon mission. The prime minister didn’t order an attack. Irrelevant to one who follows different orders, Radcliffe replies. Suddenly, steel bounds appear out of Fury’s seat, keeping him tied to it.

At Braddock Manor, the Skull mockingly comments that it is wise of the heroes to stifle their hostility He presses a button and teleports away, gloating that he is leaving the men to certain death, for even now the STRIKEforce is about to bomb the building with missiles.

He’ll never get away with this, Fury threatens helplessly, while Radcliffe gives his order to fire.

Captain Britain urges Captain America to hurry as they run up the stairs. It’s too late, America announces. A moment later, the missiles hit the building.

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Captain Britain

Captain America

Colonel Nick Fury (director of SHIELD)

The Red Skull

Tod Radcliffe (deputy director of STRIKE and traitor)

STRIKE agents

on the computer screen

Betsy Braddock

Jamie Braddock
Follower of the Red Skull

Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.

The 2nd story in this issue is a b&w reprint of the first part of Fantastic Four (1st series) #118, the 3rd story reprints Strange Tales #167 this time in the correct order.

First story:

As revealed in issues of the Daredevils, Braddock Mansion wasn’t really destroyed, thanks to the sentient computer.

Issue Information: 
Written By: