Captain Britain (1st series) #21

Issue Date: 
March 1977
Story Title: 
<BR>They’ve kidnapped the Prime Minister ! (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 British prime minister is kidnapped right from his office by the Red Skull and his men. He demands for the government to surrender to him by the end of the day or else the prime minister will die and a germ bomb will detonate in the center of London. S.T.R.I.K.E. commander, Lance Hunter, and his American colleague, Nick Fury, wonder what to do, now that Captain Britain and Captain America are dead. However, unknown to them, the two Caps are still alive and have just freed Brian Braddock’s siblings from the Skull’s troops. To prove that the news of the deaths was exaggerated, Brian takes off his costume, thus also revealing his secret identity to his sister, Betsy. From the Skull’s men, the two Captains learn the location of his hideout and immediately depart there. Along the way, they try to leave several messages for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to join them but none of them get through – they are on their own.

Full Summary: 

First story:

At midnight, James Callaghan, the British prime minister, sits in his office at Ten, Downing Street, reading through some documents. Just as he prepares to turn in for the night, he is suddenly gone, disappearing into thin air.

Almost instantly, S.T.R.I.K.E commander, Lance Hunter, is informed of the incident. Still holding up the phone, he tells his colleague Nick Fury about the bad news and he is equally startled. Hunter tells Fury to calm down as he wants to get some more information.

Meanwhile, in a seemingly deserted dockland warehouse, the Red Skull and his men observe the prime minister rematerializing in the entry chamber among their lab equipment. As soon as the goons recognize who their prisoner is, they are in disbelief. They knew that the Skull was powerful but they didn’t consider he would be capable of performing such a feat – in fact, they think that it must be an actor and not the real Callaghan. Furious by his followers’ doubts, the Red Skull tells the prime minister to convince them himself. Still disoriented by the transport, Callaghan angrily says that they won’t get away with this kidnapping and that his disappearance must have been noticed the same moment he was gone. By now, every agency in the government will...

He is interrupted by the Red Skull, who orders his prisoner to be silent. For long decades, he has endured British stubbornness, ever since and before World War II, but no longer will he allow his destiny to be denied. Now, the Skull gloats, will victory be his. As Callaghan is led away to a prison cell, he calls the Red Skull mad – for when Hitler and an entire army couldn’t conquer Great Britain, how should he do it with a few henchmen? The Red Skull does have an answer, though, with an ultimatum: Surrender within twelve hours or face annihilation.

At the hospital somewhere north of London, the freed Jamie and Betsy Braddock are somewhat surprised that their saviors are Captain Britain and Captain America. Jamie brings it right to the point, saying that the news reported them dead, so it can’t be his brother Brian underneath that mask, can it? Captain America wants to know what exactly the news said about their deaths but Jamie refuses to reply, not until his own questions are answered first and he can be sure that they aren’t imposters. Betsy is just confused; first she was captured by neo-Nazis and now Jamie claims her brother is a superhero – it’s simply too much to take in at once.

Captain Britain tells her to calm down and sits down next to her, wanting to explain. He reveals that Jamie is right, he has two identities – Brian Braddock and Captain Britain. He apologizes for not having the time right now to explain how he became a superhero but, at least to demonstrate that he is telling the truth, he once more activates his amulet and is transformed back. The costume gives way to the civilian clothes of Brian Braddock. Jamie and Betsy are happy to see their brother alive and well and Captain America finally understands why the other hero was so familiar with the layout of Braddock Manor.

Right then, Cap notes one of the Skull’s men having come around and trying to sneak away, but he catches him in time. He tells the man to take them to the Red Skull and even threatens him with physical violence, until he gives in. Brian tells Jamie to get his sister back home and Captain America decides to try to give Fury a phonecall before they depart. He gets a little bit annoyed when the operator tells him all lines are jammed; he needs to talk to S.T.R.I.K.E. headquarters, Nick Fury especially, right now.

Back at S.T.R.I.K.E.’s base, Nick Fury and Lance Hunter wonder what to do. Despite hundreds of phone calls coming in, they got no decent lead on the prime minister or the Red Skull. In front of them, a woman named Judy receives yet another call but, when she hears who it is, she tells the operator that the line is strictly for emergency use and that they don’t accept crank calls. After she hangs up, Hunter asks her what the matter was. She says that a cheeky operator put through a call from some lunatic, someone claiming to be Captain America but, as they all know – it can’t have been him as he is dead.

Back at the hospital, Captain America tells Captain Britain that he couldn’t get through to Fury. They thought he was some kind of nut. It seems the world is really convinced of their deaths, he adds. Brian answers that this means they’ll have to take on the Skull all by themselves and Captain America agrees. He plans to get their prisoner but Brian tells him they don’t need him anymore. In the meantime, he has wrung the location of the Skull’s hiding place out of him.

Just as they are about to leave the hospital, a group of teenagers storms in, armed with baseball bats. They intend to rob the hospital of any saleable stuff and, seeing the two heroes in their colorful costumes, they believe them to be patients from the loony ward. Having only little time, Brian tells his American colleague that he can handle the thieves himself, while Cap should already try to hitch them a ride. Captain America does as told and leaps over the teenagers, towards the exit. The young men now believe Captain Britain hopelessly outnumbered but he swings around his scepter a few times, hitting several of the thieves. It’s too much for them to handle and they quickly run away. Brian yells after them that they haven’t finished the fight yet. He thinks to himself that he should phone the law but, with the threat of the Red Skull, he hasn’t got the time.

Outside, Captain America gets lucky, as a truck is driving by. He leaps in front of it and gestures for it to stop. The driver hits the brakes almost too late but Cap gets out of the way in time. The two men inside the car get out, worried whether they hit him or not but Captain America is unharmed. Captain America tells the men that he needs to borrow their truck, just as Captain Britain arrives to join him. He also gives them the address of the Skull’s hideout and a S.H.I.E.L.D. ID card to hand it to the police, once they have called them. The two Captains quickly board the truck, one of the men not understanding what’s going on, but the second one, having recognized the two heroes, and tells his friend that it’s okay.

As they drive away, Captain America hopes that, when the police arrive, they will alert Nick Fury, providing them with an entire army to storm the Red Skull’s base. The driver heads towards the hospital to make the promised phone call and he is also somewhat worried about his truck. The other man follows, thinking that soon the car will be the least of his friend’s worries.

Meanwhile, in London, Lance Hunter is informed of the ransom note having arrived. He fills in Nick Fury that Scotland Yard has been contacted – the Red Skull has captured the prime minister and demands for the British government to surrender by six, or the prime minister will die. However, that is not yet the worst. According to the note, the following midnight a germ bomb will detonate over London, wiping out the city’s population within hours. Puzzled, Fury and Hunter look at a map of London, wondering what to do and where the Red Skull might be hiding.

On the road, Captain Britain tells Captain America that he is not sure what to expect from the Red Skull but he got the notion that they’ll make it out okay. Cap warns Brian not to get too overconfident but the British Captain replies that, between the two of them and S.H.I.E.L.D., the Red Skull got no chance. Captain America hopes that he is right; it all depends on the truck owner making the phone call.

Back at the hospital, just that man meets his untimely end. His “friend” shoots him in the back, for he too is a follower of the Red Skull and believes in the Glory of the Fourth Reich. To make sure that the information will never make it to the police, he picks up the S.H.I.E.L.D. ID card and burns it, already thinking of the reward the Red Skull will give him for this.

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

Red Skull

Red Skull’s troops

a gang of young thieves

two men driving a truck

Story Notes: 

This title 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) #119, the 3rd story reprints the first third of Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #7.

The two Captains were at Braddock Manor in Captain Britain (1st series) #18.

Issue Information: 
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