NOTE

Monday, October 18, 2021

INVADERS #5 & MARVEL PREMIERE #29

"RED SKULL IN THE SUNSET!"
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
Pencilers: Rich Buckler & Dick Ayers | Embellisher: Jim Mooney
Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Letterer: John Costanza

The Plot: The Invaders rampage through a munitions plant in the Midwest, destroying it and departing. That night, the Red Skull cuts into all American radio and TV broadcasts to inform the populace that the Invaders now serve him and their attack was staged at his command.

At the White House, the Invaders' FBI Liaison, Mr. Stuart, explains to President Roosevelt that it all started when the group was tapped by the government to appear in a New York parade, sponsored by magnate Bettman P. Lyles, to raise money for war bonds. There, the Red Skull abducted Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Toro via a strange vortex, and Bucky was left catatonic.

Following Stuart's story, Bucky appears in the Oval Office, jogged from his stupor by reports of his teammates' attack on the plant. Bucky has a plan, but since he is unwilling to disclose it to the president, Roosevelt turns him down. Bucky leaves the White House, despondent.

Continuity Notes: While Stuart appeals to the adult Invaders to join the parade, Bucky and Toro look over a stack of comic books about their own exploits, pointing out everything the creators have gotten wrong. This seems to be Roy Thomas reiterating his stance, described in a column back in GIANT-SIZE INVADERS #1, that the original Golden Age stories about these characters are considered apocryphal until stated otherwise in the pages of INVADERS.

Monday, October 11, 2021

INVADERS #4

"U-MAN MUST BE STOPPED!"
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas | Artists: Frank Robbins & Vince Colletta
Colorist: Janice Cohen | Letterer: John Costanza

The Plot: Captain America, the Human Torch, and Toro break onto a U.S. Army Air Corps base and steal a plane to pursue Namor and Bucky, who are themselves in pursuit of Winston Churchill, aboard an American plane bound for Bermuda. And in Bermuda, a group of reporters awaits Churchill's plane. But the reporters are attacked by U-Man and his warriors, and taken prisoner. The lead reporter, Betty Dean, escapes and warns off the plane, which takes off again just after nearly setting down.

But U-Man has grabbed hold of the plane's pontoon and is attacked by Namor as the craft rises back into the sky. Captain America and the Torches show up moments later to challenge U-Man's men, while Namor fights U-Man himself. But Churchill's plane is suddenly caught in a bizarre energy warp, which knocks out all aboard. Namor saves the plane from crashing, but U-Man escapes. Churchill decides to fly home intead of taking a boat, and bids the Invaders farewell.

Monday, October 4, 2021

INVADERS #3

"BLITZKRIEG AT BERMUDA"
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas | Artists: Frank Robbins & Vince Colletta
Colorist: Don Warfield | Letterer: John Costanza

The Plot: En route back to the U.S. from Britain aboard Namor's flagship, the Invaders observe as Namor teaches Bucky how to operate the craft. But before long, the heroes spot a British warship under attack by a Nazi submarine. The Invaders save the ship and capture the U-boat's commander, who carries with him a coded secret message. Later, in Washington, D.C., the Invaders' contact, Stuart, has the message decoded. It reveals plans for the Nazis to intercept Winston Churchill on his way home through Bermuda. But Stuart reveals more to the Invaders: the Nazis have a new super-agent named U-Man, a blue-skinned water warrior who will lead the attack on Churchill.

Realizing that U-Man must be a super-powered Atlantean -- and that he has a troupe of Atlantean soldiers following him -- Namor sets out to attack the villain alone. The Invaders try to stop him, but after a skirmish at the Capitol, Namor escapes in his flagship with an unlikely ally -- Bucky, who wants to tag along as Namor's backup pilot. Meanwhile, Stuart learns that Churchill is ahead of schedule, having already left for Bermuda aboard an American plane. Captain America, the Human Torch, and Toro set out to follow Namor and protect the Prime Minister.

Continuity Notes: As mentioned above, Bucky received flying lessons from Namor in the issue's opening scene, leading to his joining Namor's mission later on. Following from Bucky being sidelined in the past two issues as the Invaders' liaison to the British, I can only assume that Roy Thomas is still searching for a proper role for the young sidekick. Unlike Toro, Bucky has no super-powers -- not even an enhanced physique like his partner, Cap. He's just a teenage kid running around with a bunch of super-heroes. So it makes sense that Thomas might want to find some support position for him to fill since he's unlikely to contribute to the sorts of super-battles in which the Invaders are sure to become involved.

Monday, September 27, 2021

INVADERS #2

"THE TWILIGHT OF THE STAR-GODS!"
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas | Artist: Frank Robbins | Inker: Vince Colletta
Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Letterer: John Costanza

The Plot: While Namor, the Human Torch, and Toro battle the gods Donar, Loga, and Froh in the sky, Captain America and Hilda seek cover in a cave below. But there they're found by a group of Nazis and escorted to the underground lair of the scientist called Brain Drain. Brain Drain, a brain kept alive in a jar, explains to Cap that the "gods" are actually aliens who crashed on Earth months ago, and were responsible for his transformation. But Brain Drain stole a special ring from the aliens and used it to control them, naming them after Teutonic gods and placing them in service of the Third Reich.

Hilda's memories return and she throws the ring into a pool of chemicals, igniting a chain reaction. With no way to leave Earth, Hilda decides she and her crewmates should perish. Donar, Froh, and Loga abandon their battle and return to Hilda, joining her as she leaps into the exploding chemicals with Brain Drain in tow. Cap escapes the cave and reunites with the others. The Invaders board Namor's flagship and take off for Britain.

Monday, September 20, 2021

INVADERS #1

"THE RING OF THE NEBULAS!"
A weltanschauung of Wagnerian wonderment by:
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas | Artist: Frank Robbins | Inker: Vince Colletta
Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Letterer: John Costanza

The Plot: Aboared an Atlantean aircraft, the Invaders arrive in London to find the city under assault by Nazi bombers. While Namor, the Human Torch, and Toro join the Royal Air Force to repel the attack, Captain America and Bucky land. Bucky spots a beautiful blonde girl wandering through a nearby fire, and Cap races out to rescue her.

Namor and the Torches return to the ground to meet the amnesiac girl, Hilda. When the Invaders take her along with their local British liaison, she tells them that she remembers coming from somewhere deep inside Nazi territory. Leaving Bucky behind to represent them in Britain, the Invaders board Namor's flagship and follow Hilda's directions, but come under attack after crossing the Siegfried Line -- the border between Germany and occupied Europe. The group abandons the flagship to find their attackers are a trio of gods identifying themselves as Froh, Donar, and Loga.

Continuity Notes: Roy Thomas seems to have moved the Battle of Britain here. We're explicitly told in narration that the Invaders have stumbled into its closing act, but in real life the entire thing happened in the summer/fall of 1940 -- while this issue's opening narration states that it's currently December of 1941!

Monday, September 13, 2021

GIANT-SIZE INVADERS #1

"THE COMING OF THE INVADERS!"
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas | Artist: Frank Robbins | Inker: Vince Colletta
Colorist: Petra Goldberg | Letterer: John Costanza
With Special Thanks to John Romita
This issue dedicated to the "Real McCoys"--
Stan Lee * Joe Simon * Jack Kirby

The Plot: After breaking up a Nazi sabotage operation, Captain America and Bucky are approached by FBI agents who bring them to see Doctor Anderson, the man who oversaw Steve Rogers' transformation into Captain America, and who is now dying at Walter Reed Hospital. Anderson explains that he was recently kidnapped by a Nazi agent named Krieghund, who probed his memory for the super-soldier secrets, and used those secrets to create a new Nazi super-agent, Master Man. But the Human Torch and his sidekick, Toro, arrived to rescue Anderson, while Krieghund and Master Man escaped from their secret Virginia base.

Suddenly realizing what Krieghund is up to, Anderson asks the FBI to rush Cap, Bucky, the Human Torch, and Toro to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. The heroes arrive time to see a British battleship come under attack by a German submarine. Master Man leaps from the sub to the ship, but finds Namor the Sub-Mariner, in disguise, waiting for him. Master Man gains the upper hand on Namor, but Cap, Bucky, and the Torches arrive to lend a hand. Master Man retreats to shore, followed by Cap and Bucky, while Namor, the Torch, and Toro save the British ship and sink the sub. On shore, Master Man's super-soldier formula wears off and Cap and Bucky easily defeat him.

In the aftermath, the heroes learn that Winston Churchill was aboard the ship, coming to Washington for a meeting with President Roosevelt. He implores the group to remain together and upon their agreement, christens them the Invaders.

Monday, September 6, 2021

THE INVADERS

CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY! THE SUB-MARINER! THE ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH & TORO! During the darkest hours of World War Two, these five heroes have banded together as THE INVADERS--to battle the Axis Powers to the death, in the name of freedom!

Having just wrapped up one Marvel run from the seventies, I think I'd like to stay in that decade a bit longer, to examine a series that's been on my radar for some time: THE INVADERS, by Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins, and more.

The Invaders is one of those groups where, at least for me, the legend is greater than any actual knowledge. I know the basics: a team of World War II era characters, banded together for a team book in the seventies to tell retroactive stories set during "the Big One". I've seen many Invaders flashbacks and reunions over the decades, but I've never read so much as a single issue of the original series.*

But I've always had an interest in it. Though I tend to be a little trepidatious about jumping into any series written by Roy Thomas, who I love as an idea guy/plotter but whose overblown purple prose I often can't handle as a scripter, I still want to give this series a try. The fact that it's drawn by Frank Robbins doesn't hurt, either -- as I mentioned when I looked at Batman in the Seventies a couple years ago, I really like Robbins' quirky, cartoony style.

So, armed with INVADERS CLASSIC: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Volume 1 and Volume 2 (which I unboxed here years ago, in July and December of 2014 (!), I'm about to go through the saga of the Invaders on issue at a time, beginning right here next Monday.


*Okay, that's not entirely true. I owned one single, solitary issue of INVADERS as a child -- but I never read it! I think I got it before I could read, and just didn't pay it any mind in my collection over the subsequent years. Honestly, I have no idea how, at that age, I wound up with a comic that had been published a few years before I was born. It couldn't have been a hand-me-down, because there was no one to hand it down to me! Anyway, at some point, I lost it. I do remember which issue it was though, so I'll call it out when we get to it.