A ‘Giant-Size’ beginning, 41 regular issues ,one Annual, from the 1970s, a follow up 4-issue mini-series and some significant tales in Captain America and Namor before a mini revival in the new millennium…!

 

We will be starting in June 1975 – with Giant-Size Invaders #1 , a 30 page special written by Roy Thomas with art in the individual style of Frank Robbins and inked by Vince Colletta.


World War Two heroes Captain America and Bucky, the android Human Torch and partner Toro and Namor the Sub-Mariner find themselves thrown together against the Nazi villainy of Master Man and no less a figure than Winston Churchill helps form the …Invaders!

 

I’d love to know what memories anyone has of this series before I summarise it issue by issue….anyone up for it? (I’ll wait a bit for people to locate their issues if you’d like…)

 

(First question I’ll throw out there – anyone else notice the mistake on the cover of Invaders classic tpk #1)

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UNION JACK #1 (12/98)
Ben Raab - Writer – John Cassaday- Art
Cover Art – John Cassaday
  "Tradition"
'With Acknowledgement to the Work of Roy Thomas & Frank Robbins' - nice touch. I appreciate that kind of thing.


What do we think of this cover then? I quite like it, "Jack is Back -- To Face The Power of the Walking Dead!"


As this is his first solo series the 'Jack is Back' confuses me enough to send me unsuccessfully searching in the back issues for a series I'd missed! - Just me..? OK.


Logo lettering for 'Union Jack' is a bit dull, guess avoiding a Captain Britain font would be in the designer's mind but - just doesn't quite work

Collector's Item 1st Issue!"
Continuity-wise, this 3-part series fits after the Stern/Byrne Captain America arc that featured the death of the Original Union Jack and the revitaliastion of Spitfire. Between then and here there was a (British Marvel?) series called 'Knights of Pendragon' (cruelly rare!) wherein this version of Union Jack became a muscular powerhouse and changed costumes a lot before settling back into the look and powers we have here.
I hope that makes sense..?


For those uninitiated, or with cloudy memories, this book opens with a brief history of the Union Jack title - mentioning the Invaders (no love for either Bucky or Toro) but missing out the complication of Brian Falsworth - the second Union Jack.
"Which brings us to the present..." - and this is indeed the 'current' Union Jack, should anyone be trying to keep up.


The main action starts in a church and Jack is battling undead-zombie-vampires and it seems from his narration that that is his general brief these days. We see he is a dab-hand at physical combat, use of a pistol and use of a silver dagger. The opening scene ends with his victory under a broken stained glass window with light pouring over him and him bowing while muttering, "Amen." - I do not think this is actually supposed to tell us that our hero is particularly religious - just grateful.
(Oh, and I do think the broken shape of the window could have been the shape of the United Kingdom - wasted opportunity there.)


Our hero, Joey Chapman flashes back to a recent funeral where he accompanied his 'best-friend' Kenneth Crichton, (Spitfire's son remember?)
"By all rights he should've inherited the job as Union Jack. Had he been born of sterner stuff, he would've"
We learn Kenneth suffers from a 'rare-form-of-anemia' - as did the dead friend who's funeral they're at.
(Yes - there cannot be anyone who read that phrase 'rare-form-of-anemia' in comicdom who didn't think - 'he's a vampire then'!)
A mysterious female also attends, "Some sort of Aristocrat."
"Well... Aren't you all?"


Jack has an amulet he recovered from the church fight and ponders it's meaning as we flashback/dream sequence how Kenneth's dying friend visited a Vampire where this aristocrat promised he's meet his destiny.
We then cut to a dark-haired female bidding Jack goodbye - we do not know who this is and it feels like we missed a scene! - We do learn she's an old flame and an Occultist who researches the amulet and we all learn it's a symbol of the Holy Grail via a cult named after the 'Sabbath of the Rosy Rood'
All we really need to know is... "These suckers are serious."


The old flame is not a great fan of Joey Chapman running around in pyjamas but Joey tries to explain, "You don't understand. Union Jack is a Tradition."


Later at a public house Kenneth is getting drunk and bleating to Joey about his mother's new lease on life. Joey takes Kenneth away from a potential bar fight and outside... where they are being stalked...


Later at Falsworth Manor after Kenneth has been put to bed to sleep it off, Joey talks with Lady Jacqueline Crichton, contrasting Joey with Kenneth and their respective destinies. Joey stays, changes to Union Jack and battles a ghostly vision of the dead guy from the funeral who is intent on offering Kenneth the aid of the mystery woman... "The Healer... ... the Baroness."
The issue ends with Jack finding a stained glass window at the church that depicts the Holy Grail...
To Be Continued...


So, a fair mystery and total emersion in Union Jack / Spitfire / Invaders lore with dynamic art. It's good but it would have benefitted from a more detailed prologue/info page explaining who is who and how they all got here - the Invaders flashback is poor in that regard. In actuallity this feels like either the end result has missed some scenes in an edit or there's an important story we have not been told. I don't mind mystery but I do not like confusion.


So, Kenneth is a vampire - whether he knows it or not - the mysterious 'Baroness' must be a relation and linked to obvious Invaders/vampire character Baron Blood.
I want to know more.
Do You?


Come Back...

The early 90s saw Union Jack as part of the Knights of Pendragon where he gained mystic powers, strength and bulk and was possessed by the spirit of Sir Lancelot

Not a fan of that period!

I had to do a spot of online research after reading these last two posts to determine what I have read. (I haven’t read either of the two issues/series above.) After reading the Alan Moore and Jamie Delano runs of Captain Britain, I moved on to Captain Britain and MI 13 (15 issues) in tpb. I bought the first two trades but skipped the third when it moved on to a vampire storyline. (Yes, I realize Captain Britain and Union Jack are two different characters, but I sometimes confuse them, especially during this era.) There are two different Knights of Pendragon series, one from 1990 (18 issues) and one from 1992 (15 issues). I read all of the first series, but bought only the first issue of the second. I’m really more of a Captain Britain fan than Union Jack (solo, anyway), but I’ll be following along to see what you have to say.

I don't think you're alone. Cornell's decision to change Captain Britain's costume from the familiar helmet & boots to....well basically Union Jack's costume without a mask... In the MI13 series was his biggest mistake. Thankfully ignored since .

Jeff of Earth-J said:

. (Yes, I realize Captain Britain and Union Jack are two different characters, but I sometimes confuse them, especially during this era.) 

Wow! That Knights of Pendragon cover looks like a bad fake.

On the contrary... it looks like typical post-Image '90s Marvel... whitch all did look like "bad fakes" now that you mention it. Marvel didn't recover from the departure of the Image founders (IMHO) until "Heroes Return."

Baron Blood looks like some 14-year-old's idea of a cool "upgrade."



Philip Portelli said:

The early 90s saw Union Jack as part of the Knights of Pendragon where he gained mystic powers, strength and bulk and was possessed by the spirit of Sir Lancelot

Not a fan of that period!


This is supposed to be Union Jack??? Why would you want to take one of the coolest costume designs and switch it out for something so generic? Was the original too hard to draw for someone?  At least they didn't give him a bunch of pouches I guess.


I have only the meagerest of memories of Knights of Pendragon though I did get it then but Jack was turned into the group's strongman despite never having any powers before or since. And they made him massive to boot!

But yes, my guess was this super-simple outfit was much easier for the neophyte artists Marvel HAD to hire to draw consistently.

Detective 445 said:



Philip Portelli said:

The early 90s saw Union Jack as part of the Knights of Pendragon where he gained mystic powers, strength and bulk and was possessed by the spirit of Sir Lancelot

Not a fan of that period!


This is supposed to be Union Jack??? Why would you want to take one of the coolest costume designs and switch it out for something so generic? Was the original too hard to draw for someone?  At least they didn't give him a bunch of pouches I guess.


Union Jack's most recent previous costume wasn't even all that difficult to draw.

That cover reminds me of a couple older ones.

UNION JACK #2 (01/99)
Ben Raab - Writer – John Cassaday- Art
Cover Art – John Cassaday
  "Faith"
'From the Shadows-- Blood!"
That's a good, simple but effective cover, Union Jack and Baron Blood, old enemies, new angle.


The issue opens with a 3-page prologue from Falsworth Manor where poor meek and feeble Kenneth Chrichton is being treated by a doctor and his mother discusses his symptoms, "Must you speak of me as if I'm not here, Mother?"
Kenneth again gets in a dig at his mother's newfound youth and attitude, "I'm lying on my deathbed, while she flits around like some social butterfly."
As he bitches, we cut to the title page and Union Jack adventuring over London. The artwork is very good.


UJ visits the Holy Grail exhibit in a museum and discusses it's history with the eccentric museum curator (had he been seen elsewhere?).
Back in his civilian identity UJ takes the info/code surrounding the Grail to his female contact who links it to the 'Rosy Rood' cult.
"Where's the suit, hero?"
"Laundry day."


Although Kenneth accompanied Joseph, he is seen talking with the mysterious Baroness Blood who disappears before Joseph catches up.
Joseph goes back to talk to Lady Chrichton, talking her away from her priviliged exploits and taking her to the cave below the Mansion, where that battle with the Original Union Jack and Baron Blood occurred - back in the early Invaders issues- strangely not mentioned in any editorial box-link.


We are also reminded, Union Jack II died later in a car crash and despite recent events, the Lady believes Baron Blood is dead too/still dead - thanks to Captain America in his book (Stern/Byrne also not referenced in editorial)


We then see the Baroness who is planning a resurgence of a Master race after vampires drink from the Holy Grail at Christmas.
Her backstory is explained, she was the sole survivor of a local priest's family killed by the original Baron Blood. She was turned by him and is manipulating poor Kenneth Chrichton.
He surrenders himself to her at a church.


Joseph begins to realise that the plan is for the Vampires to evolve into a new breed a new Master Race.
The curator is fooled into taking a delivery out of hours at the museum and Joey is too late in his warning. In costume and on a motorbike, UJ arrives and finds the Holy Grail stolen and the curator brutally murdered, "Filthy... rotten... bloodsuckin'...monsters!"


Baron Blood attacks ( seemingly wearing a new costume but seemingly the same guy). He shows massive strength and as they fight Union Jack suddenly feels himself out of control of his own body, he drops his knife and Baron Blood unmasks and moves in for a neck bite...it's Kenneth Chrichton!!
It's a cliff-hanger, probably not a very surprising revelation but how the next issue is going to wrap up this trilogy is intriguing.


True to it's Invaders roots but with a modern paced mystery and art that is growing on me all the time with some beautiful set pieces and backdrops.


There is an obvious lack of any secondary storyline and much characterisation as we are dealing with only a mini-series but this is a good story and deserves an audience.


Next Issue... "To Be Concluded..."
Come Back...

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