NOTE

Monday, July 4, 2022

CAPTAIN AMERICA #253 & #254

So, since we just wrapped up the entirety of the original INVADERS series last week, and since today happens to be Independence Day, the most patriotic holiday here in America, I figured I'd take advantage of the happy coincidence to dust off a couple of Captain America-themed posts from the early days of the blog which serve as a bit of a coda to the adventures of the Invaders.

In 1980/81, Roger Stern and John Byrne had an acclaimed and all-too-brief turn as the creative team on CAPTAIN AMERICA. And their final real story (not counting the retelling of Cap's origin they did an issue later) revisited the Invaders. I have to admit, it never really dawned on me how soon these issues came along after INVADERS ended! That series' final issue was cover-dated September of 1979, and this two-parter is from January and February of 1981. A mere fifteen months separated the conclusion of INVADERS and Stern's and Byrne's epilogue to the series!

(I suspect in part that's simply due to the fact that INVADERS feels like a Silver Age throwback to me. The artwork, the scripting style, even some of the plotting -- it's all incongruous with the Bronze Age that was in full swing alongside it. So even though I know when INVADERS was published, it feels like it was published about a decade earlier.)

So, without further ado, here are two posts that originally went up eight years ago, showing us whatever happened to the greatest heroes of World War II:

CAPTAIN AMERICA #253
CAPTAIN AMERICA #254

Okay, I actually do have one final bit of ado: I didn't reference it in the continuity notes for CAP 253, but you'll see it in a screenshot there: Jacqueline Falsworth (-Chrichton) mentions that her brother, Brian -- a.k.a. the Union Jack we just spent several weeks reading about -- died off-panel in a car accident after the war. Kind of an inauspicious end! Mind you, it makes sense that Stern and Byrne wanted the second U.J. off the table to tell their story of the mantle being passed. And yeah, it does add a bit of unfortunate realism to the proceedings -- not every hero goes out in a blaze of glory. But it still feels like a waste to see the character done away with via an offhanded remark like that.

See you in a week, when I reveal what's next on the schedule! (Though if you were reading the earliest INVADERS reviews last year, I already spoiled way back then.)

Monday, June 27, 2022

WHAT IF #4

"WHAT IF THE INVADERS HAD STAYED TOGETHER AFTER WORLD WAR TWO?"
Co-Conjurers of Cosmic Cacophany: Roy Thomas & Frank Robbins
Embellisher: Frank Springer | Colorist: George Bell
Letterers: Joe Rosen & John Costanza

The Plot: In April of 1945, the Invaders have gone their separate ways. Captain America and Bucky are presumed killed in action as they thwart Baron Zemo's attempted theft of a new Allied radio drone. Meanwhile, the Human Torch and Toro have taken the fight to Berlin, where the Torch kills Hitler in his bunker. Elsewhere, Namor battles the Japanese in the Pacific while Spitfire and Union Jack defend Winston Churchill from Nazi assassins. The group is summoned back together by their liaison officers, who reveal the deaths of Cap and Bucky. Namor and the Torches then fly to the United States for a meeting with recently inaugurated President Harry Truman, who explains that he had the press quash all coverage of Cap's death. Truman introduces Namor and the Torches to a new Captain America and Bucky -- the former Crusader called the Spirit of '76, and New York Yankees batboy Fred Davis -- and asks that they be allowed to join the Invaders.

Truman also adds the Whizzer and Miss America to the group, revealing that the Liberty Legion recently disbanded. Thus the new Invaders battle together and separately against the final remaining Axis power, Japan -- until the war finally ends. At that point, again at Truman's suggestion, the team re-christens themselves the All-Winners Squad and continues to fight crime in the United States. But eventually, the All-Winners decide to take a break. The Human Torch and Toro fly to Boston to visit the Torch's creator, Professor Horton -- but find that he has been imprisoned by his new android creation, Adam-II. Adam traps the Torch and Toro in a deathtrap with Horton, then departs on a mission. But former Liberty Legionnaire the Patriot comes to the aid of the Torches and Horton. As soon as he has freed them, Horton reveals that Adam-II is on his way to replace a congressional candidate with another android.

Monday, June 20, 2022

INVADERS #41

"BEWARE THE SUPER-AXIS!"
Editor: Roy Thomas | Writer: Don Glut
Artists/Illustrators: Alan Kupperberg & Chic Stone
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: As the Invaders recuperate following their battle with Baron Blood at Idlewild Airfield, the Human Torch spots a rapidly-vanishing trail of mist in the air and takes off to follow it. The trail leads him to Chinatown, where he spots a shop called the House of Lotus. Recalling Golden Girl's mention of a Japanese spy named Lady Lotus, the Torch enters the building. Inside, Lady Lotus brings Master Man and Warrior Woman under her sway, then goes to the front of the shop to greet the Torch. She uses her mental powers on him as well.

Later, Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, Miss America, and the Whizzer are hanging out in a hotel room when a news bulletin announces costumed beings wreaking havoc at the Chicago rail yards. The heroes fly there in Namor's ship, and leap into battle against Master Man, Warrior Woman, U-Man, and Baron Blood -- collectively calling themselves the Super-Axis. The Invaders get the villains on the ropes, but the Human Torch arrives, attacking his friends. The Torch nearly kills Whizzer and Miss America before Namor douses his flame and Cap talks sense into him. The Invaders then move along to Chicago's Riverview amusement park, where the Super-Axis members continue to terrorize the populace.

As most of the Invaders rejoin the battle, the Human Torch flies Namor's ship back to New York and breaks into Lady Lotus's shop. Her henchmen hold him off as Lotus escapes into the night. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Invaders defeat the Super-Axis and turn them over to the police. Following the fight, Cap, Namor, and the Torch leave the United States, returning to England to reunite with Spitfire, Union Jack, and Lord Falsworth.

Monday, June 13, 2022

INVADERS #40

"V...--IS FOR VAMPIRE!"
Concept/Editor: Roy Thomas
Writer: Don Glut | Artists/Illustrators: Alan Kupperberg & Chic Stone
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: In the caverns beneath the Falsworth estate, Baron Blood battles Union Jack and Spitfire. He defeats them, but Lady Lotus's telepathic summons stops him from finishing them off, and forces him to leave with her men. Union Jack and Spitfire come around and try to stop the escape, but they're too late.

Later, in the United States, the Invaders are en route from California back to New York when they receive a call from Union Jack, informing them that Baron Blood is loose. Meanwhile, Lady Lotus meets with Baron Blood and U-Man, reinforcing her control over Blood and giving him a mission to carry out. Later still, the Invaders peform a morale exhibition for soldiers stationed at Fort Dix. But when the base's commander informs them that a German aircraft was spotted entering New York airspace, the group heads for Idlewild airport to get Namor's flagship and search for it.

But at Idlewild, Baron Blood braks into the air traffic control tower, killing its operator and clearing a path for the German plane to land. The Invaders arrive and attack Blood, but he escapes after a brief skirmish, when the Invaders are forced to save two airmen whose planes collide due to the lack of a traffic controller. Later, Baron Blood returns to Lady Lotus's curio shop, where she introduces him to the Germans whose arrival in America he facilitated: Master Man and Warrior Woman.

Monday, June 6, 2022

INVADERS #39

"BACK FROM THE GRAVE!"
Concept/Editor: Roy Thomas | Writer: Don Glut | Artists: Alan Kupperberg & Chic Stone
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski | Coloring: Carl Gafford | Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Captain America and the Human Torch arrive at the Santa Monica Pier to find U-Man standing over the defeated Kid Commandos. U-Man knocks out Cap and absconds into the sea with Golden Girl. Unable to pursue underwater, the Torch rouses Cap and the kids, then he and Toro take to the skies to search for U-Man. Meanwhile, the villain emerges from the water elsewhere, and brings Golden Girl to Lady Lotus inside a warehouse.

Lady Lotus awakens Golden Girl and entreats her to join forces and destroy America for its practice of interring Japanese citizens. Outside, the Torches find a suspcious plane and go to get Cap and the Kid Commandos. Meanwhile, in England, Brian and Jacqueline Falsworth, on a hunch from Brian, don their costumes of Union Jack and Spitfire to go patrol the Falsworth Estate. In America, Golden Girl refuses to join Lady Lotus, and resists Lotus's mental control. When U-Man and Lotus's men attack her, Golden Girl evades U-Man and knocks out all of Lotus's soldiers. Cap, the Torches, and the Kid Commandos arrive a moment later, and U-Man and Lady Lotus escape in an experimental plane, too fast for the Torches to follow.

At the Falsworth estate, Union Jack and Spitfire find Japanese soldiers in the cave where Baron Blood died, working to remove the boulder pinning a stalactite in the vampire's chest. The heroes intervene, but in the ensuing struggle, one of Union Jack's electrical zaps goes wild and inadvertently frees Baron Blood, who attacks the heroes.

Monday, May 30, 2022

INVADERS #38

"U-MAN COMES TO TOWN!"
Concept & Editor: Roy Thomas | Guest Writer: Don Glut
Illustrators: Alan Kupperberg & Don Heck | Inker: Chic Stone
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and the Whizzer stop a shakedown by a group of Nazi sympathizers at a munitions plant in New York. Afterward, Whizzer leaves for a meeting with the Liberty Legion. He stops a mugging on his way, and then reports to his teammates that he is taking a leave of absence from the Legion in order to support the Invaders while they're in the United States. Miss America immediately volulnteers to join as well, and the two depart Legion headquarters.

In Chinatown, U-Man finally meets his mysterious master, Lady Lotus. After demonstrating her power to mentally control him, she dispatches him to California to capture Golden Girl. Elsewhere, Captain America chats with Bucky via the radio in Namor's flagship. The Invaders have been asked to investigate a sabotage ring in San Diego, and Cap believes Namor, Whizzer, and Miss America can handle it alone -- so he and the Torch want to visit their former partners, Bucky and Toro.

Later, in California, Cap and the Torch bail out of Namor's ship as it travels on toward San Diego. Meanwhile, the Kid Commandos thwart a Japanese sabotage plot at the Santa Monica Pier -- but in the aftermath, they're attacked and subdued by U-Man, who triumphantly hoists Golden Girl over his head.

Monday, May 23, 2022

INVADERS #37

"THE LIBERTY LEGION BUSTS LOOSE!"
Editor: Roy Thomas | Writer: Don Glut
Artists/Illustrators: Alan Kupperberg & Rick Hoberg | Inker: Chic Stone
Colorist: Carl Gafford | Letterer: Irving Watanabe | Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Beneath the Atlantic, Sub-Mariner watches as Iron Cross escapes with Professor Schnieder. Meanwhile, aboard Iron Cross's submarine, the Liberty Legion members defeat his Nazi allies. On the surface, Iron Cross knocks Namor's flagship out of the air, sending it into a splash landing. Meanwhile, Thin Man covers the hole in the damaged U-boat while Namor lifts it to the surface. There, Jack Frost creates a floating ice platform to hold the submarine.

Namor takes to the skies in pursuit of Iron Cross, joined in his chase by the Liberty Legion's flyers, Miss America and Red Raven, as well as the Human Torch.Iron Cross knocks Red Raven and Miss AMerica out of the sky, but the former is saved by his own wings while the latter is caught by the Whizzer. Meanwhile, Iron Cross knocks out Namor as well, leaving the Human Torch alone to face him. When Namor emerges from the sea and hits Iron Cross, the villain drops Professor Schneider. Namor flies down to catch him, while the Torch overheats Iron Cross's metal armor, burning the man inside and fusing the suit's systems. Iron Cross plummets into the sea.

The Invaders and Liberty Legion regroup, cramming aboard Sub-Mariner's ship with their Nazi prisoners, and take off for the United States. Meanwile, the Atlantean U-Man arrives in time to watch the heroes depart -- then he is summoned away by the mental voice of the mysterious Lady Lotus.