Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #243

Issue Date: 
October 1977
Story Title: 
When Slaymaster Strikes!

Larry Lieber & Jim Lawrence (plot), Jim Lawrence (script) Ron Wilson & Mike Esposito (art), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

Alerted by a scream, Captain Britain finds the corpse of Thurlow Archer, shot with an arrow. He is confronted by what seems to be Archer’s daughter and led into a trap, as the daughter is actually a disguise of the master assassin, Slaymaster. Inspector Thomas arrives and intends to take Cap in, but the hero flees, intending to prove his innocence. Meeting his sister, Betsy, the next day, Brian discusses the row of recent gimmick murders and chances upon the theory that they were all collectors. He visits his brother, Jamie, at the racing tracks to figure out whether that also goes for one victim that Jamie used to work for. Brian’s theory pans out and Jamie points out that there is another collector racing today – Major Gunn. Brian realizes that it would fit the killer’s modus operandi to kill Gunn with a pistol, just like Archer was killed by an arrow, but he is too late: Gunn has already pulled the trigger of the starting pistol and gets obliterated.

Full Summary: 

Patrolling the streets of London, Captain Britain suddenly hears a scream coming from a building’s balcony window. He flies towards the window. Inside, the masked villain, who has just shot his victim with an arrow, sees him coming. Only one man in England beside him can fly like that, he deduces. Captain Britain should prove a worthy foe for Slaymaster.

Captain Britain enters and finds the corpse on the ground. Looks like another of those headline-murders that are being committed with gimmicks. This poor fellow bought it with an arrow straight trough the heart. As he stands crouched above the corpse, a young woman enters the room. Shocked, she tells Cap that the corpse is her father, Thurlow Archer. She accuses him of killing the man. Cap defends himself and explains that he flew by when he heard the scream. The killer can’t have gone far. The young woman starts sobbing and Cap calls the police, while he muses on the cheap pun: a man called Archer killed by an arrow. The killer must like sick jokes.

A moment later, as Cap puts down the phone, he hears a cry from the young woman. He runs to her side and she shouts that there was a man hiding in the room. He ran out in the corridor. They find the lift door jammed open. He can’t have gone down yet. Cap enters the lift, but there’s nobody inside. He figures the killer used the stairs. Suddenly, he finds an object on the floor. A kind of electronic device. The moment he picks it up, it starts to emit fumes. Behind him, the lift door slams shut.

Pressing a button on her belt, the young woman smirks. As Cap succumbs to the sleeping gas, the victim’s “daughter” removes her rubber face, sheds the robe and nightgown and stands revealed as the assassin, Slaymaster. He could have easily killed Captain Britain, but it will be more amusing to match wits with him as he vainly tries to stop the ‘master assassin of our time’.

Cap has recovered and smashes through the lift-door, hell-bent on finding his foe. Instead, the young hero gets karate chopped by a hiding waiting Slaymaster.

Meanwhile the police arrive, led by Inspector Dai Thomas. The first thing they find is Captain Britain. Thomas roughly shakes him awake and demands an explanation. Cap tells his story and mentions the daughter. Thomas tells him that Thurlow Archer was a bachelor. He accuses Cap of being the murderer and orders his men to cuff him. Cap decides he has to prove his innocence, breaks the handcuffs and flies off.

The next day, Brian Braddock visits the studio where his sister, Betsy, models to take lunch with her. He reads the papers and learns that Archer collected rare weapons. Seems all these gimmick murder victims had hobbies, he muses. One collected rare stamps, another fancied prize orchids.

Betsy’s points out one of the victims, the rock star Luke Lane. Wasn’t he too cool to collect anything? Her photographer corrects her. Lane ‘collected’ girls. What about the victim before, Betsy tries again, Lord Quayne. Brain has no idea, but their elder brother Jamie, raced for Quayne. He might know.

That same afternoon, Jamie Braddock is scheduled to drive in a major racing event and Brian looks him up to ask him about Quayne. Jamie tells him that Quayne collected thoroughbreds, but that fact wasn’t common knowledge. So his theory still holds, Brian decides. All the victims were collectors of sorts.

He asks his brother who else in the UK might rate as a world-famous collector. There’s one coming around the tracks right now, Jamie informs him. Major Jack Gunn. He owns a collection of famous racing cars. He’s the starter for today’s race.

Later, as the race is about to begin, a man presents Gunn with the starting pistol. Brain is getting nasty vibes. Archer was killed with an arrow. It would fit the killer’s nasty sense of humour to kill Gunn with a pistol. Out of sight, he turns into Captain Britain and flies towards the major, warning him not to fire the pistol. Too late! Before Cap can finish speaking a fiery blast shakes the stadium, slaying its intended victim and knocking unconscious his would-be saviour.

Characters Involved: 

Brian Braddock / Captain Britain

Betsy and Jamie Braddock (Brian’s siblings)

Betsy’s photographer

Archer Thurlow

Major Gunn

Chief Inspector Dai Thomas

Other policemen


Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.

The issue contains three reprinted backup stories:

The first part of Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #167,
the first part of Fantastic Four (1st series) #133 and the first part of Avengers (1st series) #121

first story

First out-of-the-blue mention of Betsy’s model career. Before that, she’d been a charter pilot.

Issue Information: 
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