Marvel Super-Heroes (2nd series) #377

Issue Date: 
September 1981
Story Title: 
The Return of Captain Britain

second story : Dave Thorpe (writer) Alan Davis (art), Paul Neary (editor)

Brief Description: 

Captain Britain and the elf Jackdaw are sent back to Earth by King Arthur. As they float through nothingness, Captain Britain’s Star Sceptre vanishes and his uniform changes.
They arrive in a bank vault during a robbery caused by bizarre creatures, who call themselves the Crazy Gang, a motley crew led by the strange ‘Mad Jim Jaspers.’ During the fight, Cap realizes that the properties of his Star Sceptre – such as creating forcefields and the power of flight – have been transmitted to his new uniform. The hero and his sidekick hold their own and, when the wailing of sirens announces the arrival of the law, the crazy Gang have to flee without the loot. The money, however, seems odd to Captain Britain and, after he sees a poster that infers that a party he has never heard of has come to power, he realizes that this probably isn’t his world, after all.

Full Summary: 

Reality fades away, as Captain Britain and his elfin companion, Jackdaw, begin to tumble through nothingness. King Arthur’s last words echoes in their ears, as the King tells Captain Britain to return to his own world and time and that Jackdaw’s special powers might help him.

While they are floating through nothingness, suddenly Captain Britain’s Star Sceptre and Amulet of Right vanish and his red costume gives way to a different more uniform-like outfit, displaying a huge Union Jack on the chest.

Elsewhere, Arthur and Merlyn discuss that Captain Britain and Jackdaw have a destiny to fulfill, one perhaps even more important than theirs.

Time passes and Captain Britain and Jackdaw suddenly find that they are landing on a pile of money. Action – at last, the elf sighs, before he lands - hard.

It is a bank vault, Cap realizes, and, if he is not mistaken, this is the middle of a bank robbery. The would-be robbers are two gentlemen dressed as stage magicians, a jester and a metallic-looking being, dressed like a walking playing card. One of the conjurors points at Captain Britain and tells the jester – Coco – to look. Sinister-looking, despite his broad grin, Coco orders the conjurors to get him. They points their wards at Cap and fire comes spilling out.

Falling back, Cap grimly thinks that, without his Star Sceptre, this isn’t going to be easy. Not wishing to show his insecurity, he announces that it is nice of them to unroll the welcoming mat, but this is Captain Britain they are dealing with. He slugs one of the Conjurors, while kicking the other in the face, while that one is in the process of saying that he’s never heard of him.

Jackdaw finds this whole incident very curious, but decides to help by tackling the Jester.

In the meantime, the metallic-looking creatures introduces himself as Jack of Hearts to Captain Britain and warns him that he won’t find him such a pushover. Why, is he the leader of the pack, Cap feebly jokes. Almost insulted, the Jack of Hearts asks if he think he is funny? He is not half as loony as they are, because they are from the Crazy Gang! He hits Captain Britain who tumbles backwards. Well there’s a name to conjure with, he jokes, but his anger grows. He has been away from London a long, long time and this is not the homecoming he sought.

Hey, Dumbo, a voice suddenly announces and Captain Britain turns into the direction of the voice to see even more grotesque foes. A madly grinning, tooth-gapped Terry Thomas lookalike in an ill-matched orange suit, an ugly dumpy woman dressed in red, a tall hooded creature with a scythe and a small, fat, blue creature dressed like the parody of a school boy and madly yukking.

The grinning man giggles that their foe made a big mistake making a dash for the cash that night. They call him Jim Jaspers, Mad Jim Jaspers and the lady is his beautific bride, the Queen of Hearts. What does she say?

Her reply is succinct and to the point Orf wiv ‘is ‘ead! she orders. As Jaspers informs Cap that the Crazy Gang believes in the old tradition, like execution by royal decree, the hooded figure, the executioner, silently moves forward, raising his axe.

Cap reasons that he should be injured more badly than he is. Perhaps the forcefield he used to control with his Star Sceptre still holds …

He informs the Executioner that he has a lot of respect for royal tradition, but none for him. With that, he pushes him out of the window. Outside, some winos watch and one of them comments, as if underscoring a point, if the other sees what he means, it’s a horrible world full of violence.

Cap realizes he was right about the forcefield. He was able to slam the Executioner by sheer force of will by expanding the forcefield. He jumps outside, while Jaspers shouts at the Crazy Gang to follow him. He won’t have his project ruined by some Charlie in a Union Jack!

As he stumbles out of the window, Cap, to his horror, finds that they are not on the ground floor, as he had believed, and, without his scepter, he cannot fly. However, he finds that by sheer force of will he can! The Sceptre’s powers must have been transferred to the suit by Merlyn. Suddenly, he finds that the Conjurors are taking potshots at him with their wands and he wonders where Jackdaw is.

Shouting from down below, Jaspers waves a teapot and suggests Cap come down for a nice cup of tea. Been a long time, Cap replies, but no thanks. Jaspers insists he have some, as he tosses the teapot at Cap. Moments later, it explodes in his face.

Jackdaw, who has been watching from hiding, decides he better help. He reaches out with his telepathic powers and the Conjurors momentarily stop their assault, wondering why they are firing at Cap. By the time they regain their composure, Jackdaw has stolen their wands.

As the Crazy gang starts pursuing him, Cap swoops down, throwing several of the bags of money at him. The bags burst open and the winos start gathering the money. Jaspers threatens that Cap will pay for this, causing Jackdaw to wryly remark that it looks like he already has.

Sirens start wailing and Jaspers orders the Crazy Gang to scarper. He’ll create a diversion. While the Queen protests that they are losing the money, Jaspers draws another teapot from his jacket. But the second teapot explodes harmlessly with a ‘phut,’ creating a smokescreen to allow the Crazy Gang to get away. Under the smokescreen, the remnants of the motley crew climb aboard a bizarre getaway craft nearby, a helicopter, adorned with the letter ‘J’ and once again in the shape of a teapot.

Jaspers orders the pilot – a Dormouse- to make sure the cops see them. The Crazy Gang doesn’t need to hide from anyone. Then why are they fleeing, Coco asks incredulously.

Watching from a back alley as the Crazy Gang flee and the police arrive, Cap comments that he doesn’t like this. He takes a look at some coins: they don’t look anything like the kind of money Cap remembers. This can’t be real money. But then why did the gangsters and the drunken ones want it so badly, Jackdaw argues practically. Cap isn’t sure. He straightens up remnants of an old poster, showing a politician unknown to him and saying:Re-elect the British National Party – Keep the flame burning. This doesn’t make sense, Captain Britain states, unless something’s gone very wrong indeed…

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain



King Arthur

Mad Jim Jaspers

Coco (the Jester), the Conjurors, the Dormouse, the Executioner, the Jack of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts (Jaspers’ Crazy Gang)


Story Notes: 

Thanks to Loki from Comicboards for invaluable help with the notes of this and the following issues.

This story was published by Marvel UK.

Apart from the Captain Britain story, this issue includes Avengers (1st series) #182, the second part of X-Men (1st series) #65 and the first part of an interview with British artist David Lloyd.

second story

This is the first part of a new Captain Britain strip. His first strip ended with Super Spider-Man & Captain Britain #247. Afterwards, the character made his US debut in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) # 65 & 66 by Claremont and Byrne, chronicling Captain Britain’s visit to New York and his fight with Spider-Man against Arcade. After the Team-Up story, Captain Britain no longer had an original strip. The character returned as a co-star in the Black Knight storyline that ran through issues #1 to 63 of the British Hulk comic.

Basically, the Black Knight, on a mission from Merlyn, found the amnesiac Brian Braddock in a cave. Fighting the forces of Necromon and the Netherworld, which were besieging Merlyn’s Otherworld, they eventually learned that, on his flight back to Great Britain, Brian’s mind had been besieged by Necromon and he had jumped from the plane, which led to his amnesia. After several adventures on their way to Otherworld, including Cap dying and being restored by Merlyn, Captain Britain proved instrumental in finding the tomb of King Arthur and waking the resting King. Afterwards, Captain Britain, along with Jackdaw, was sent away by Arthur and the King and the Black Knight led the final battle against Necromon.

This issue sees the debut of Alan Davis, the artist who would come to be most connected with the character of Captain Britain, as well as Cap’s new, probably best-known uniform and several important characters for the Captain Britain mythos, namely the Crazy Gang and Mad Jim Jaspers (who is clearly based on British actor Terry Thomas), a villain who is a lot more than he seems.

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