Daredevils #4

Issue Date: 
April 1983
Story Title: 
Killing Ground

first story
Alan Moore (writer) Alan Davis (art), Jenny O’Connor (letters), Bernie Jaye (editor)

Brief Description: 

Captain Britain takes the battle against Slaymaster outside the comic-shop. Though he is more powerful, the villain holds his own, thanks to his sophisticated weaponry. He jams one weapon, meant to paralyze his foe, between Cap’s ribs, but Cap manages to get rid of it. Eventually, Slaymaster uses ninja tricks against Cap and is well on his way to killing his foe, when Captain Britain’ sister, Betsy, and her lover, Tom, help. Combining their psychic powers, they manage to momentarily confuse Slaymaster long enough for Cap to regain his balance and finish him off. Cap invites the telepaths to stay with him at Braddock Manor. A little later, the Vixen complains to Arcade that his killer, Slaymaster, failed against Captain Britain. The mention of Captain Britain’s name piques Arcade’s interest and he promises to finish the contract himself.

Full Summary: 

The two foes stare at each other as they get ready to do battle.

It’s been a long time, Captain. I thought that you were dead.

Me too, Slaymaster. I thought that you were dead, too.

Here we are again, then, Captain. Are you ready?

I’m ready.

Very well, let’s see, if we can get it right this time.

Slaymaster viciously claws at Captain Britain’s face with the mechanical claw, which extends from his right arm. Cap retorts with an equally brutal blow while somebody shouts for the police.

Betsy Braddock prays that her brother will beat him. She prays he will kill Slaymaster, the way he killed her friends. Her lover, Tom Lennox, telepathically contacts her, asking what’s going on. Avril and Vicki are… Betsy already knows. She felt them die. She tells Tom to look at the weapons Slaymaster is using. Those are S.T.R.I.K.E. weapons. He has S.T.R.I.K.E. backing him up. The Vixen must completely control that organization by now and nobody knows but those renegade telepaths. S.T.R.I.K.E. has the same resources as their American counterpart, S.H.I.E.L.D., Tom points out. How do they fight something like that? Betsy doesn’t know. That’s why she got in touch with her brother. That’s your brother, Tom telepathically exclaims as he sees the man hitting Slaymaster, while his forcefield keep the flames his foe throws at him. My God!

Cap realizes that there are too many people in the comic shop, and Slaymaster is not above using that as an advantage. He grabs his foe and holds him over his head. Guessing his intent, one of the shop assistants asks him to at least wait until he has gotten that copy of X-Men #137out of the way. It’s valuable! Ignoring him, Cap tosses Slaymaster through the shop window. Oh well, never mind. Cover slightly worn, reduced to clear, will work as well, the shop owner remarks.

Cap runs after his foe, who is still slumped on the ground. He recalls that, in the past, Slaymaster was just vicious and stupid. But he seems more confident and controlled now. And those weapons are sophisticated beyond belief. He grabs Slaymaster by the shirt to find he is unconscious. He breathes a sigh of relief, until Slaymaster, who was playing possum, jams a needlelike weapon into Cap’s chest.

First blood, the villain announces. He continues that he was unprepared for Captain Britain’s personalized forcefield, as he did not have such a thing when last they met, but he does have weapons capable of penetrating such a field, as Captain Britain will have noticed. While Brian, clearly in pain, cannot move, Slaymaster informs him that the weapon between his fourth and fifth ribs bears the regrettably tasteless name of a ‘jazzler.’ It disrupts nerve impulses. Cap should find it difficult stand, think, walk or indeed fulfill any physical functions other than screaming.

Of course, Cap could just pull it out, he mocks, but he will probably find even such a simple task beyond his current level of co-ordination. The effort required to get his arm and fingers to respond would be simply gargantuan… In surprise, he shuts up, as Cap slowly, deliberately, moves his hand and tears the weapon out.

He is impressed, Slaymaster admits. Cap simply slugs him aside. Cap stands opposite Slaymaster. He should be thrashing him, he thinks. He’s much more powerful than Slaymaster is. But he’s the better fighter, he’s the better killer…. Suddenly, he notices that, so far, Slaymaster has only been using the right arm. The muscles on his left arm are incredibly well developed, but he is not using it. Is he showing off or…?

Slaymaster studies him looking for a vulnerable spot in his forcefield. He finds a small sport on his right shoulder. Suddenly, he hits Cap with his left arm at incredible speed. Belatedly, Brian screams in pain.

Slaymaster explains what he has done to his arm. It is a ninja trick. Cap has heard of the ninjas, hasn’t he? They pound their hand into rocks until it is covered with a thick callous. Then they sharpen the callous to a keen point. Of course, the hand isn’t much use for anything after that, except cutting. Again, he hits the shoulder – again, Cap screams.

Betsy and Tom are watching helplessly. Betsy sees her brother being slaughtered. They have to help. She is a precog, he is a telekinetic. Tom protests that he is too rattled to properly concentrate. Betsy thinks. In five seconds, Slaymaster is going to cross over to just outside the shop so he can hit Brian again. She asks Tom to lift telekinetically some comics and magazine out of the shop. Tom complies.

Slaymaster informs Cap that this will be the last blow that he will feel. This one will sever his arm. Then he’ll faint and Slaymaster will finish it. Perhaps he will be a warrior in his next incarnation and they will meet again. He hopes so, as he rather enjoyed this.

Betsy tells Tom to do it now and Tom hits Slaymaster with a barrage comic books. The villain is momentarily blinded and Cap uses that chance to hit him again and again. His face a bloodied pulp, Slaymaster begins to congratulate him. Cap simply slugs him again until he is finally out cold.

Betsy informs her brother that the police have arrived. Good, he thinks as long as… A moment later, he tells himself in exasperation that this he doesn’t need right now. Among the police is surly-faced Chief Inspector Dai Thomas, Cap’s nemesis. Predictably, Thomas is in a foul mood what with another superhero battle. He shouts that everybody is under arrest.

Cap tells Betsy he is getting out of there. With Slaymaster off her back, can she get her friends up to Braddock Manor on her own? They can all stay with him. Betsy doesn’t understand until he explains that he can’t take that Welsh stormtrooper on top of everything else right now.

He flies off and, moments later, Thomas addresses Betsy, asking if that flying man hurt her. What flying man? asks Betsy.

Later, elsewhere, Miss Locke informs her employer, Arcade, that there is a phone call for him on the hotline. Arcade is disinterested. He is watching Bilko. Nobody talks to him while he is watching Bilko, he complains. Is nothing sacred to these people, or what? Mss Locke clarifies that it’s the Vixen. Slaymaster’s been taken out.

Reluctantly, Arcade picks up the receiver. On the other side, an angry voice berates him: that so-called hitman that Arcade supplied her with to remove the S.T.R.I.K.E PSI-division has just been grounded into dirt and is now in police custody. She thought Arcade trained him to be unbeatable! Arcade orders Miss Locke to move the TV set so that he can still watch. Vixen continues, agitated that Captain Britain showed up and beat him up as thoroughly as last time they met.

Now she has Arcade’s attention. Captain Britain? Vixen agrees and recalls that Cap made a fool out of Arcade in the past as well. She begins to warn Arcade who interrupts her. No threats. He’s the big ‘A,’ remember? He doesn’t get threatened. It’s in his contract. He promises that he will finish the job. He may need a little time, but he’ll finish it. Because if Captain Britain is involved… well, it’s different now. Now it’s personal.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain / Brian Braddock

Elisabeth ‘Betsy’ Braddock

Alison Double, Tom Lennox, formerly of S.T.R.I.K.E.’s PSI-division


Miss Locke

Shop assistants at “Forbidden Planet”and other onlookers

Chief Inspector Dai Thomas

Other policemen

on the phone


Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.
Apart from the Captain Britain story this issue includes Daredevil #163 (1st series) and the second half of Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #53.

second story

Cap fought Slaymaster before in Super Spider-Man & Captain Britain #242-247. Slaymaster seemingly was torn apart by sharks at the end.

Captain Britain teamed up with Spider-Man to fight arcade in Marvel Team-up (1st series) #65 & 66.

Arcade promises to get revenge on Captain Britain, but that plotline is dropped after this issue. Arcade doesn’t actually confront Cap again until Excalibur (1st series) #4 & 5.

Chief Inspector Dai Thomas has a pronounced dislike for heroes, as his wife died during a battle between superbeings and harbored a special dislike for Captain Britain. During Cap’s first series, the two of them kept on clashing into each other.

The show that Arcade is watching, Bilko, is most likely Sgt. Bilko – originally named “The Phil Shivers Show” after its star, until it was renamed for syndication. The program centered around an army sergeant who ran a motor pool, using it as a base of operations for his many cons and scams. The show ran from 1955 to 1959, so even in the context of this story taking place in 1983, Arcade is watching a rerun.

Issue Information: 
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