Captain Britain (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
February 1977
Story Title: 
<BR>While the World Gently Weeps ! (1st story)

First story: Gary Friedrich (writer), Herb Trimpe (penciler), Fred Kida (inker), Irv Watanabe (letters), George. Roussos (colors), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

First story: The public believes Captain Britain and Captain America dead. Reading about it in the newspaper, the Red Skull gloats about his victory and sets in motion the next phase of his master plan – the annihilation of Great Britain. Meanwhile, Colonel Fury meets up with Lance Hunter, Director of S.T.R.I.K.E., and the British prime minister to discuss their next actions. Fury and Hunter are given free reign in the situation and, using S.T.R.I.K.E.’s resources, they hope to get a decent lead on the Skull’s whereabouts. The two Captains are still alive, though, having faked their deaths in order to outsmart the Red Skull. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, the heroes make it back to the hospital, unseen, for two things. They want to call Nick Fury and, also, they have to free Betsy and Jamie Braddock, who are still hostages of Dr. Ramsey and the Skull’s men. Eventually, they succeed, though afterwards Jamie questions Captain Britain’s true identity, for he too heard the news of the heroes having been killed and fears that it’s not his brother, Brian, underneath the mask.

Full Summary: 

First story:

“Britain Mourns Fallen Heroes,” is the headline of the Times, showing a picture of Captains Britain and America. This is good news for the Red Skull. Crumpling up the paper, the Skull gloats about his great triumph. Finally, after all this time, Captain America, the living symbol of the United States, is vanquished and Captain Britain, embodiment of the country that brought about the Fuehrer’s downfall, is dead as well! Smashing his fist on his desk, the Red Skull shouts that this is merely the beginning, for he won’t stop with crushing them, their nations will be next.

Unfolding a map, the Red Skull eagerly shows two of his men his master plan for the annihilation of the British people. Talking to himself, the Skull is convinced that the Fuehrer’s heart would swell with pride at such a cunning scheme and he can almost feel him smiling upon him and guiding him to the final conquest, which he was denied. The Red Skull turns to the picture of Adolf Hitler at the wall and salutes, vowing that he won’t fail him and, with his inspiration, he’ll bring forth the Fourth Reich.

At the same time, a top-security session is taking place at Ten Downing Street. The prime minister asks whether Nick Fury and Lance Hunter have located the Red Skull or learned of where he plans to attack. Unfortunately, they have not. Yet, Hunter assures that they have every available man working round-the-clock on it. The prime minister says that it’s not enough, the Red Skull is one of the most dangerous men alive and, so far, they only managed to uncover one of his pawns, the traitor Radcliffe, whom Fury killed and, therefore, is of no use to them. Nick Fury gets a little bit angry, stating that he is well aware of his mistakes but wallowing in guilt is not going to help now. Fury tells the prime minister to give him free reign and he’ll bring in the Red Skull in no time. Reminding him that he is just a guest in this country, the prime minister says that he doesn’t like outbursts as this, but he understands Fury’s anxiety and therefore wants to cooperate with him the best way possible. Hunter chimes in, trying to calm down the tempers. He thanks the prime minister and states that he and Fury will be working together quite effectively. Fury understands and promises that he’ll be playing by their rules. He only wants nobody to stop him when they get a hot lead. Then, Hunter says, he’ll be only too glad to follow Fury’s lead. Excusing themselves, the two leave the Prime Minister alone and get to the task.

On a dark street, somewhere north of London, two figures clad in red and blue are walking the road. Captain America knows they need to tell Fury of their plan to let the Red Skull believe them to be dead, but the next phone is in the hospital more than a mile away. As they continue to walk, a light suddenly approaches them. The two heroes don’t want themselves to be seen and leap off the road, hoping that the driver didn’t see them. While the two Captains are hiding in the bushes, the car stops and a middle-aged couple get out. The man is sure to have seen two men leap off the road, but his wife tells him she didn’t see anything and she doesn’t want to be late for the theatre. As they get back into the car, the man swears that he saw them; he even got a glimpse of red and blue clothing... could it be that they were the two heroes, he asks. His wife though tells him to shut up, fearing that, if he would tell anyone else, people would think him nuts.

Once the car is out of sight, Captain America and Captain Britain come out of hiding. They discuss what they just heard. Obviously, the public already thinks them dead, so the Red Skull must do so too. Captain America is having second thoughts about letting the world grieve for them; it doesn’t feel right. Captain Britain though cheers him up, saying that people have short memories and great concerns for them and, surely, they’ll be forgiven this ploy. Now, however, they need to hurry and rescue his brother and sister, who are still held hostage in the hospital.

Fury and Hunter have made their way to a huge base, located beneath a transparent dome at the bottom of the sea. Saying that it’s his show, Fury asks his colleague where they will start looking for the Skull. Hunter says that Dockland is their best bet, as they had numerous reports of Nazi activity there recently. Guiding Fury into the base’s Radio Communication Center, Hunter points to a huge screen showing a map of the city. The flashing lights on it show the positions of their agents there, a heavy concentration of them being around Dockland. As soon as one of the men learns something definite, it will be directed to the command central and they’ll be on it. For now, though, all they can do is sit and wait.

Having reached the hospital, the two Captains peer into a window to see that Jamie and Betsy are tied up, back to back, with two of the Red Skull’s men and Dr. Ramsey watching over them. The heroes wonder how they can attack without endangering the hostages, for, as soon as they burst in, one of the villains might shoot them. Captain Britain has an idea: a diversion is what they need. He tells Captain America to wait there and burst in, as soon as the guards will answer the door. Cap understands the plan and, before Britain leaves, he tells him to make sure to distract all of the guards.

Making his way around the hospital, Brian thinks to himself that he can’t botch this, not with the lives of his family hanging in the balance. Activating his amulet, Brian changes from costume into civilian clothes and, in this form, he can enter the hospital without suspicion. Once inside, he makes his way down a long corridor to the room where his siblings are held in. Brian knocks and, once the door opens, he pretends to be a lunatic patient, urging Dr. Ramsey to help him, as he is not insane and doesn’t want to remain in there. The doctor is startled, while the two guards fall for Brain’s act and prepare to deal with the supposed nutcase. Right then, Captain America bursts in, easily deflecting the men’s bullets with his shield. Brian uses this split-second to activate his amulet again, changing back into Captain Britain. Together, the two heroes quickly defeat the men and untie the Braddock siblings. Rather concerned, Jamie asks Captain Britain if it is really Brian, for they heard report of Captain Britain having been killed. He demands to know whether he is the real deal or an imposter, dressed in Captain Britain’s costume.

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Captain Britain

Betsy Braddock

Jamie Braddock

Captain America

Colonel Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

James Callaghan, the British Prime Minister

Commander Lance Hunter, Director of S.T.R.I.K.E.

several S.T.R.I.K.E. agents

a middle aged couple

Red Skull

Red Skull’s troops

Dr. Ramsey

Story Notes: 

This title was published by Marvel UK.

The 2nd story in this issue is a B&W reprint of the first half of Fantastic Four (1st series) #119, the 3rd story reprints the second half of Strange Tales #168.

First story:

James Callaghan was British Prime Minister from 1975-1979.

Issue Information: 
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