Captain Britain (1st series) #9

Issue Date: 
December 1976
Story Title: 
<BR> Demon-Fire! (1st story)

First story:
Chris Claremont (author), Herb Trimpe & Fred Kida (artists) I. Watanabe (letterer), G. Roussos (colorist), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

First story: Synne threatens Captain Britain and the Captain starts to fight, only to find that his mental powers make his foe untouchable. As help from Braddock Manor closes in, Synne leaves but not before sharing one final terror-filled illusion with Captain Britain by making him believe that he has tumbled into hell, where demons punish him for the role he played in his parents’ death. Captain Britain forces himself to fight the illusion and is finally shaken awake by his elder brother, Jamie. Later, Jamie tells Brian that Synne was behind his accident and that he has been terrorizing the local villages for some time. While the men are talking, Synne once more takes over their sister’s mind. Believing her brothers to be monsters, Betsy grabs an axe and attacks them.

Full Summary: 

First story:

Holding the unconscious body of his sister, Betsy, in his arms, Captain Britain is faced with Dr. Synne, a bizarrely dressed, wild-looking elderly man on a black horse, who proclaims that monsters pulled their aircraft from the sky and ravaged the girl’s mind. Monsters spawned by the demon dreams of Dr. Synne!

And now he shall destroy his mind as well. With those words, Synne conjures a fireball, seemingly out of nothing, and tosses it at Captain Britain. Finding that the fireball is real enough, Captain Britain quickly sidesteps it, worrying about how he’ll get his sister to safety. He lays her on the snowy ground only to notice – albeit too late –that the fireball returns and homes in on him like a heat-seeker missile. A moment later, he screams in pain and falls to the ground.

Dr. Synne comes closer to finish him off. Cap forces himself up again and topples both horse and rider courtesy of his quarterstaff. One moment Synne stands in front of the hero, the next he has disappeared. As Cap wonders aloud where he has gone, a voice from behind him announces “I’m right here, dear Captain.” Synne smugly points out that he could have killed the Captain right now, were he not a sporting man and Cap realizes that he is right.

Suddenly, a car comes closer and Cap recognizes that it’s a rover from Braddock Manor, come to investigate the crash. Synne curses. He dare not spread his power over too many victims, as long as it isn’t fully developed yet, but before he takes his leave he intends to show the Captain how ineffectual his muscles are against his mental powers. Synne’s eyes begin to glow.

Captain Britain screams, as he becomes engulfed in the light and, moments later, he feels himself falling down a deep shaft and seemingly straight into hell, where demons are already awaiting him. Hades is where all sinners are sent, they mock him. And he is a sinner, isn’t he? A man responsible for his parents’ deaths!

Cap shouts out his denial, as one demon grabs him. It was an accident, he pleads. And they forgave him. Forgiveness means nothing here, the demon replies. This is a place of eternal damnation, as he shall soon learn. Captain Britain feels the searing pain, smells the sulfurous stenches but tries to convince himself that this is merely an illusion, like the monsters Betsy saw. He repeats “fight it” like a mantra even, as he topples into the flames.

‘Fight it,’ he still murmurs, as he is being shaken awake by his concerned elder brother, Jamie. He tells the servant, Mick, to get him some brandy, as Brian still sees to be out of it. He assures Brian he is safe now and, as Mick leads Betsy to the rover and as he is being helped up by Jamie, Brian wonders why and when he has changed back to Brian Braddock without willing it. Did Jamie witness the transformation? And more importantly – did Dr. Synne?

A little later, Jamie leads both his younger siblings into the walls of stately Braddock Manor. While Betsy is still quiet, Brian inquires after Jamie’s crash and tells him he’s glad Jamie recovered so quickly. He’s invulnerable, Jamie jokes. But that crash was no accident. It was a declaration of war between him and Dr. Synne. Who is Synne and what does he want? Brian enquires. Power absolute over body and mind, Jamie replies curtly.

As the siblings sit down for tea, Jamie informs Brian that the legendary Dr. Syn – Thorndike’s scarecrow of Romnny Marsh – was a fighter against tyranny and injustice. This Dr. Synne has chosen the name deliberately to pervert the name and the memory. He started his reign of terror a month ago among the local farms and villages. A number of people tried to stop him but, whoever confronted him, was transformed into his mindless slave. Except Captain Britain, Brian thinks. He was powerful enough to overcome Synne’s hypnotic spell. Not another member of the Braddock family, however.

Unnoticed by her brothers, Betsy Braddck sees Synne’s face appear at the window. Her will is his, he commands and, a moment later, Betsy believes to have dozed off for a moment. She’s horrified, as she sees two monsters in front of her and, what’s worse – she remembers the creatures killing Brian and Jamie.

Carefully, she walks over to some decorative battleaxes hanging at the wall, while the “monsters” - really her brothers - are still in a heated discussion Just as the men turn around to see how their quiet sister has been doing, they find a glazy-eyes Betsy swinging a battleaxe and threatening to kill them for “killing her brothers.”

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Brian Braddock / Captain Britain

Elisabeth “Betsy” Braddock

James “Jamie” Braddock

Mick (the Braddocks’ retainer)

Dr. Synne

Hallucinations of monsters and devils caused by Dr Synne

Story Notes: 

This story 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) #114, the 3rd story reprints the first half of Strange Tales #163.

First story:

Dr. Syn is the hero of seven novels by Russell Thorndike. The novel "Doctor Syn" was published in 1915. It is set around the turn of the 18th century and tells the story of the Vicar of Dymchurch, who was once the notorious pirate, Captain Clegg, and now leads a secret life as the Scarecrow, head of a gang of smugglers.

Issue Information: 
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