Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #231

Issue Date: 
July 1977
Story Title: 
Sea Fury!

Bob Budiansky (plot), Jim Lawrence (script) Ron Wilson, Pablo Marcos (artists), Brian H. Moore (inks), Irv Watanabe (letters),Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

Captain Britain attacks the queen’s ship after her order to conquer Umbazi on the Manipulator’s behalf, but the Manipulator orders the gunners to fire at the Captain. Unable to get any closer, Cap pretends to be hit, sinks into the water and creates a hole in the hull to get inside the ship, where he disguises himself as a sailor. Dai Thomas notices the seamen’s zombielike behavior and stows away, only to be caught by the Highwayman. As the Manipulator tells Thomas his story, Cap eavesdrops and finally attacks, taking out the Highwayman. At that moment, the Manipulator unleashes nerve gas in the room and flees with the Highwayman, leaving Captain Britain and Inspector Thomas to perish.

Full Summary: 

Under the hypnotic influence of the Manipulator’s mysterious gem, Britain’s monarch broadcasts a startling announcement to the fleet, that she will lead the armada to Africa to reconquer Umbazi for its rightful ruler. Meanwhile, Brian Braddock races frantically to halt the mad naval strike that will plunge his nation into war. The instant he is out of sight, Brian rubs his mystic amulet and transforms into Captain Britain.

In the meantime, her Majesty announces that the kind and noble Basil Crushstone must be restored to power as premier of Umbazi and she will personally command the battle against his enemies. Cap racks his head. How to stop her? He can’t harm her - meaning he must go after the power controlling her.

Suddenly, a striking figure in a leopard-caped uniform thrusts his way through the crowd on the shore to join the queen and the Highwayman. Aboard her royal yacht, the seamen whisper whether the prime minister knows about this. He must, they conclude. The queen would never undertake this on her own.

At Westminster, Parliament is thrown into an uproar by the startling news. Is the prime minister out of his mind or the queen, some wonder. Others fear another World War and yet others point out that Crushstone, nicknamed ‘the Manipulator,’ was a filthy tyrant who deserved to be booted out.

Meanwhile, the Manipulator plays his new role as the queen’s ally to the hilt, announcing to the crowd that with her Majesty in command that their cause is sure to triumph.

Suddenly, a flying figure comes hurtling out of the blue. Captain Britain. The Manipulator orders the gunners to shoot him, but the lightning-swift superhero evades the deadly fire, if only barely. He concentrates and creates an energy shield with his star sceptre.

Meanwhile, those seamen not engaged in battle also mindlessly serve the master of their trance, leaving Chief Inspector Dai Thomas to wonder why they sound like zombies. Suspecting Captain Britain, he stows away in one of the crates to get himself loaded aboard.

Captain Britain, in the meantime, remembers that his sceptre can only keep him airborne for fifteen minutes and his time is running out. He pretends to be hit and drops into the sea.

With the hero gone, the Highwayman swaggers up to the queen, telling her he wishes he could have had the honor of doing in that traitor himself. The queen thanks him for his loyalty. The Highwayman kisses her hand and, while doing so, slips off the Manipulator’s ring, figuring it’s done its job. He jumps up on his cycle, revs it up and sends it flying across the water from the bow of the Royal Yacht to the flight deck of the Ark Royal.

Unseen down at the waterline, Captain Britain surfaces and wonders how to get aboard, undetected. The ship’s hull is armor-plated, but no earthly armor can resist the thrust of a starspawned staff, he reckons and tears into the hull. Inside, he jokes to the frightened sailor that any cabin in first class will do for him, before he takes him out. He dresses in the sailor’s uniform to sneak around.

Elsewhere on the ship, Dai Thomas has a similar idea but finds himself captured by the Highwayman before he can do anything. Minutes later, Thomas revives, chained and in front of the Manipulator and the Highwayman. Thomas warns them about what’s going to happen to them for attacking a police officer and the heated exchange is heard by a passing Captain Britain.

Cap recognizes the Manipulator’s voice from the underground lab where he was being held. He eavesdrops to hear the Manipulator say that Thomas should have stuck to his comedy act of chasing and losing Captain Britain. And what’s his game, Thomas demands. Who is he? Insulted by his lack of knowledge, the Manipulator tells him he is Basil Crushstone, former ruler of the African colony that became the independent nation of Umbazi.


Crushstone explains how mercifully he ruled his diamond-rich nation, although his narration makes it too clear that he was a cruel, merciless despot. One day, a miner was brought to him in a state of hypnosis. He had unearthed a gem that put him into a trance. Crushstone had heard of such gems before, stones that when cut released a strange radiation - He cut other facets and polished the gem to enhance its power. With his new weapon, he ruled even more efficiently. The hypnotic ray made the natives totally obedient to his every command until the day when foreign armed radicals launched a sneak attack and drove him from power.

Dethroned, he fled to England, where he studied and experimented to improve the gem’s output of mind warping radiation. During his exile, he chanced to see a motor cycle gang goon brawling in a pub. He decided that the man could help him regain his country. Using his new technical knowledge, he devised the weapons that made the “Highwayman” the terror he is today. He first used the power of the gem to create mindless puppets, like the queen.


He’ll never pull off that daft scheme, Thomas scoffs. Even with Captain Britain’s help. Now what part does he play in this caper? He is merely a pawn, hypnotized to serve him, the Manipulator replies. But now he’d like to see if Thomas can swim the channel with his hands tied to a chair…

Suddenly, Captain Britain rushes in, stating that Thomas may be no charmer but those actions are somewhat drastic. Before the Highwayman can lash out with his chain, a swinging star sceptre sends him smashing into some piled-up crates. The Manipulator is far from defenseless, though, as jets from his throne spray nerve gas in Captain Britain’s direction. The Manipulator leads the Highwayman out, while Britain and Thomas are to perish from the deadly fumes.

Characters Involved: 

Brian Braddock / Captain Britain

Chief Inspector Dai Thomas

Queen Elizabeth II

Seamen of the Royal Navy

The Highwayman

The Manipulator / Basil Crushstone

Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.

The issue contains two reprinted backup stories:

The first part of Spectacular Spider-Man #2 and the third part of Avengers #117.

second story

This story is continued from Captain Britain (1st series) #39, which was the final issue of that series.

Captain Britain was in the Manipulator’s underground lab in Captain Britain (1st series) #38.

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