Marvel Super-Heroes (2nd series) #388

Issue Date: 
July 1982
Story Title: 
Graveyard Shift

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

Brief Description: 

Seeing Captain Britain escape in Jaspers’ flying teapot, the Fury begins looking for him. Jaspers reveals to Captain Britain that he is the architect of the reality warp. When he was a politician, he built the Fury and had all the heroes exterminated. Jaspers is a powerful mutant with reality warping powers, which are growing all the time… and he is mad. Faced with the horrors Jaspers calls up, Captain Britain runs away in fear, falls and lands in the superhero graveyard. The Fury catches up with him and kills him in front of Captain U.K.’s grave. On Earth 616, Captain U.K. has the disturbing feeling something just walked over her grave.

Full Summary: 

The Fury stares after Captain Britain as he climbs up to Mad Jim Jaspers’ flying teapot. As its quarry leaves, it balances eerie intuition against a cold, alien intellect and then with a silence that is chilling in anything so big it turns and melts into the gathering fog like the shadow of a nightmare. It never gives up.

Inside the chopper, Captain Britain, cradling his broken arm, angrily demands answers from the architect of the madness that has gripped this world, Mad Jim Jaspers. He is somehow behind this isn’t he? Brian shouts. He recalls the madness he has witnessed, how a woman he tried to help has betrayed him, how some mechanical horror has broken his arm. Reality has gone haywire and Jackdaw… he stares at the blood on his white gloves… Jackdaw’s dead, he states, as if the finality is just dawning upon him.

Jaspers assumes a mock grieving pose, his hat changed to a top hat (as indeed it keeps on changing from one moment to the next). A tragedy, Captain. Shocking and him so young… still, he announces with a mad grin, Not to worry, eh? The kettle’s on and the pot is warming. Let’s have a nice, cosy natter, Captain, just you, me and an intimate circle of friends. Jaspers points at what seems to be a poorly illuminated dining hall – a cathedral rather -, far too big to fit into Jaspers’ flying teapot. Captain Britain’s mind staggers for balance, as reality slips another notch. He wonders if he’ll get through this with his mind intact. He doubts it.

With the other “guests” still obscured, Cap sits down obediently and Jaspers pours him a cup of tea. Jaspers jokes that Cap probably wonders why he has asked him here. Vanity, that’s why! This is the end of the world, as performed by Mad Jim Jaspers, formerly Sir James Jaspers, Lord Jim to his friends!

(Jaspers’ narration / flashback)

Jaspers’ explains how in the past he used to be an influential member of parliament. He suggested wiping out all the superheroes and the public went for it. But they needed a means to do it and Jaspers gave them one. Being a genius as well, he designed the Fury, which killed every superhero on the planet within two years.

(present / (un-)reality)

All except him, Jaspers cheerfully announces. He programmed the Fury, after all. That’s why it didn’t interfere when Jaspers rescued Captain Britain before. As a non sequitur, he tells Cap to finish his tea before it gets cold.

Cap can barely grasp what he has just heard. Did Jaspers provoke the nation into exterminating its heroes so he wouldn’t have any competition? Right, Jaspers agrees. He is a mutant. His brain is very powerful and can bend reality to suit itself. And it gets stronger all the time. Brian begins to understand. That’s why everything has been so disjointed ever since he arrived in this world, so mad and illogical. It was Jaspers gradually taking control of reality… and he is mad.

Quite right, Jaspers agrees and tells him not to get in a titter. The party is just getting started. Is he right? he asks the obscured guests. Right as nine pence, Mad Jim! replies the chorus.

Cap hadn’t even really noticed his fellow guests before. He wishes he hadn’t bothered.
They are twisted, perverted versions - of the people he has heard about - like the dead heroes – and worse of those he has known. Algernon madly grinning, Dimples looking as though he is melting, Jackdaw glaring at him wickedly… Brian can just think that he saw them die.

He looks at the slyly grinning Jaspers, and wonders if he is so powerful that he can twist everything into a perverted nightmare. Jaspers rubs his hands and, as if on cue, Cap hears a familiar voice asking: Mister? Give us a quid? It has the face and the voice of the child called Autumn he once met. It is burning. He screams and runs, Jaspers laughter ringing in his ears, as he forgets where he is and stumbles outside. With his injured arm, he cannot properly concentrate and so he lands hard.

He slowly gets up, befuddled by the fog. He realizes it is a graveyard, the heroes’ graveyard, the final resting place of those slain in the ten years before. White marble rears proudly against the chaos-blackened sky. He walks amongst the headstones, savoring the names of these slain champions he never knew: The Arachnid, Garth, Colonel Tusker, Android Andy (Rust in Peace), the Iron Tallon, Captain Roy Risk, Miracleman… Who were they? How did they come to be in this place?

Brian stops before the one grave that is empty. He reads the headstone which displays a Union Jack. It was intended for “Captain U.K.”. He recalls a member of the Status Crew saying that Captain U.K. escaped the purges somehow, The headstone… the Union Jack… that grave could almost be for him. Suddenly, he knows with terrible certainty he is going to die on this world.

He cries out:Why, Merlyn?? Why did you send me here? Why have your forgotten about me?? In despair, he sinks down, burying his face in his hand.

Behind him, the Fury emerges from the fog. It knew he would be there. It came to meet him. A gland oozes, a circuit is completed. The Fury fires, blasting Captain Britain to dust, his few remains falling into the open grave.

A universe away, a frightened young woman suddenly shivers despite the warmth of her room. A pang of dread stabs through her, a horror she had thought buried turns over in its sleep. It’s almost as if someone just walked over her grave…

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain

The Fury

Mad Jim Jaspers

Linda McQuillan / Captain U.K. (unnamed)

as Jaspers’ creatures or animated corpses:




Unnamed superheroes

The vagrants Captain Britain met

Algernon, the rat creature
in flashback

Sir James Jaspers

The Fury
Miracleman and other superheroes of Earth 238

Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK. It is continued in The Daredevils #1

Apart from the Captain Britain story, this issue includes a reprint of Avengers (1st series) #193, plus the Dr. Strange story “This Menace reborn”.

first story

Cap met Autumn in issue #383.

First appearance of Captain U.K., though she is still unnamed.

The heroes whose gravestones can be seen are Moore’s analogues to characters from past British comic strips. The Iron Tallon is a stand-in for the Steel Claw, Miracleman for Marvel Man, the Arachnid for the Spider, Captain Roy Risk for Dan Dare, Android Andy for Archie. Garth is actually the actual name of a British strip’s protagonist.

Issue Information: 
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