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)
INVADERS #17 (6/77)
“The making of WARRIOR WOMAN, 1942!”
Writer/editor Roy Thomas. Illustrators – Frank Robbins & Frank Springer
Now that’s a Cover to remember!
Gil Kane so it’s a winner in my eyes…but memorable for so many more reasons…?
Anyway, here we are, Frank Robbins is back on the pencils and we’re in full ‘what made the Invaders great’ mode.!
Amid the backdrop of the captured Invaders we get an origin story of Warrior Woman, who began life as ‘Madame Mystery’ and after hypnotising some hidden super-soldier formula information from comic artist Private White ends up in an accidental blast from machinery based on the processes of Brain Drain and becomes Nasty Nazi Nora ...or WARRIOR WOMAN !
The Invaders escape and battle Master Man and the new Warrior Woman who impresses Hitler by recapturing all the team– except for Captain America who gets thrown from the castle ramparts to his presumed death…!
Hitler announces his intention to publicly execute the remaining heroes in Berlin itself…next issue…!
Cap does mention in passing the disappearance of Spitfire – but yet again she’s not seen in this story and it’s easy to forget her running sub-plot with the mystery of the origin of Dyna-Mite, I’d have preferred an update rather than a recap of the Invaders being beaten by Master Man.
I’m not keen on the comic-creator who knows secrets idea – it’s shoehorned into the storyline and just doesn’t fit in my mind.
Hitler is of course depicted as completely insane / pantomime villainy
Master man makes reference to ‘the top security cell in which the hated Liberty Legion had me confined.” – which I think refers to the Fantastic Four / Thing crossover / appearance of the Legion that occurred between his last appearance in this title and here – or decades later depending on your timeline. – What is surprising is there appears to be NO textbox reference to those issues at all!
Of course no one remembers anything about this issue other than that cover….do they…?
Next Issue: A pair of pulse-pounding questions answered--! WHO Is The Mighty Destroyer? Also – whatever happened to SPITFIRE?”
I liked her as a villainess back then. I think it is better when you have someone like Nora who completely believes in the nazi cause. There were a lot like her and a lot like Master Man who joined the party just to find a place to belong. Now after knowing a lot more history I wish the portrayal of Hitler had been better though.
I got the feeling she'd be a match for Wonder Woman.
INVADERS #17 (7/77)
“Enter: The Mighty DESTROYER!”
Writer/editor Roy Thomas. Illustrators – Frank Robbins & Frank Springer
After last month’s cliff-hanger that appeared to show the death of Captain America – we ‘re not expected to be still playing that game – as Cap’s fit and well and centre stage on the cover, along with a new ‘old’ character.
“Re-Introducing: After 3 Decades! The Mighty DESTROYER!”
Gil Kane fills the cover with action – (strangely reminiscent of #13 though when you start comparing…..go on…go check them out ….see what I mean …same layout – same angles…! Boy you don’t half notice these things once you start looking don’t you!)
Anyway, within the actual comic we get a flashback to Nasty Nazi Nora throwing Cap off the castle battlements to his doom below…only to see his fall broken by a mysterious figure trying to catch him.
Above that action, the rest of the Invaders are again subdued by Nora and Master Man in front of Adolf Hitler himself who announces that Warrior Woman and Master Man will be married in his perfect person arrangement to exemplify the master race.
Captain America and the Destroyer team up and beat off the patrolling Germans before taking a break.
(Honestly – they basically have a cup of tea and a slice of cake!)
It’s during that break that we get to hear (most of ) the Destroyer’s origin – involving another variant of the Super-Soldier Formula that created Cap, transforming a British journalist into the Destroyer and linking back to ‘Mystic Comics #1 of 1941 – but revealed NOT to be the American ‘Keen Marlow’ as he was thought to be..
(Roy Thomas at his continuity-driven best.)
This was my first exposure to the great ‘Mighty Destroyer’ and so the complexities of the tweaked origin for him passed me by completely – but for those in the know- Thomas blends here – and the full revelation next issue,- two similar and yet contrasting origins together to make the back-story work. – It may come over as too complex mind you…)
What takes the edge off the appearance of this new/old character the Destroyer – is the fact that it’s YET ANOTHER newly introduced character…we’re only on issue 18 of the title and I’ve lost count of how many ‘guest-stars’ we’ve met…can’t we just have the team interact a bit more…?
The rest of the captured Invaders have Hitler gloat over the traps they are bound in and his intention to parade them through Berlin’s streets as the Torch thinks of the long absent Spitfire…
…who we finally see parachuting under cover of darkness into Berlin herself, along with Lord Falsworth and the mysterious Dyna-Mite who the Falsworth claim to know,…as their long lost friend Roger …
Splitting Spitfire off from the main team for so long and relegating her to ‘onlooker to the sub-plot’ in my opinion drove her to ‘not-quite-a-full-member’ status for ever.
…Cap and the Destroyer storm the castle and save the nobody-private-who-wrote comics-like- Cap that the Nazis captured thinking he knew the real secret to the Super Soldier Serum – but he didn’t. (remember…?No…? – It was a bit of a tangent when it started issues ago…!)
Finally Cap and the Destroyer vow dramatically to storm into Berlin themselves and free the Invaders – or – if too late – actually ‘Commit Cold Blooded Murder!!”
I just realized that the Invaders spent a lot of time in captivity and were sort of easy to beat.
INVADERS #19 (8/77)
“War Comes To The Wilhelmstrasse”
I’ll go on record to say this is my favourite Invaders issue ever! It has a touch of everything!
Firstly – what a cover!! .
Wonderful dynamic poses, well framed with Hitler showing off his captives, those oh-so-missed word balloons and good strong depictions of our heroes!
This is a Romita and Sinnott masterpiece and works better than the previous Kirby covers and even, dare I say it, the Gil Kane ones…the composition and the emotion in the picture is so powerful here. .
I remember it in it’s day and thinking – Cap looks like he does in ‘modern marvel’ – and I felt he should look a bit different – if not drawn by Robbins and Springer then at least as if he was a bit younger and less toned maybe – as this is supposed to be early in his time-displaced life…?
A pleasure to see Spitfie on the cover, although why doesn’t she get visible eyes when Cap does …and why does her costume never look as it does inside…?
So to the tale itself… A dramatic splash page shows the captured and helpless heroes being paraded through the streets of Berlin, as Hitler had promised.
Credit here for the way the two Torches actually look exhausted while Bucky and Namor look angry but helpless. It’s a quality page.
Watching the parade is the ‘everyone-believes-him-to-be-dead’ Captain America and his newest ally the Mighty Destroyer who urges Cap to plan for a better moment to try to free his teammates.
Bucky has a wonderful moment in the limelight and shows his steel as he kicks out against a Nazi trooper who takes being humiliated to heart and threatens to shoot Bucks in cold blood.
That proves too much for Cap to bear and he plows in to the field to save his buddy – who is overjoyed to see Cap alive!
The Destroyer reluctantly gets pulled into the fight but once the captive Bucky is threatened with a gun to his head, Cap surrenders. ( Way to go Cap – pointless!)
The Destroyer is not happy and keeps on fighting – only to be blown to smithereens by a Nazi grenade!
That’s a strange moment actually.
Cap buries his face in his hand in regret and upset to reinforce to the reader how poignant the death is but the actual panel that the Destroyer ‘dies’ in is small and not that dramatic. Not even as a young lad reading this first time around did I believe he was really dead here!
So, Cap joins the captive Invaders being dragged through Berlin…
Also watching the parade, well hidden from view we see the other members of our cast, Lord Falsworth, Spitfire, Dyna Mite (and the chauffeur Oskar of course!...)
We are reminded that Lord Falsworth apparently knows who Dyna-Mite really is – something that he himself cannot remember- and he gets a full name of Roger Aubrey here… as Falsworth (finally!) reveals his tale…
Back in the good-old-days, Roger was the best friend of Falsworth’s never-before-mentioned son Brian who was quite the political rebel and sympathized with the Nazi cause, enough to be cut off by his father and thrown out of the ancestral home, with friend Roger in tow...
Those immortal words were spoken …”I Have No Son””.
That was the last they saw or heard of Brian or Roger until Roger turned up as the diminutive Dyna-Mite as one of the Crusaders and with no memory of even being Roger! Clearly there’s more to this tale to come…
Great flashback panels here, showing the emotions of all involved…and (I believe) the only ever appearance in a couple of panels of (presumably) Lady Falsworth!
Oskar informs the heroic gentry that there is a scientific lair in town where the missing son Brian may have been held and so off they jolly well go to see.
Upon arrival Dyna-Mite recoils from the sudden surge of memories flooding back as he meets the man that both gave him his powers and took away his memories...
We then learn via another flashback that after Brian and Roger so publically backed the Nazis, they refused to let them leave. Brian was hauled off to their dungeons. And Roger was drafted into the ‘Project Crusader’ initiative, brainwashed out of his memories , of course.
Then everything slots into place as we learn that it was Brian that escaped, as described last issue, and drank an experimental serum only to become…the Mighty Destroyer!!! -- (Who unfortunately was brutally killed a few pages ago making a family reunion unlikely!)
The Nazi scientist captures Falsworth, Spitfire and Dyna-Mite.
By dawn, the 6 Invaders are finally reunited but drugged and placed before a firing squad for a public execution.
At the same time as the execution Hitler officiates over the wedding of Nasty Nazi Nora and Master Man only to suddenly face the dramatic – and impossible – return of “The Englishman Called UNION JACK!”
“Don’t lose heart, Invaders! We’ll take the Jerries yet!”
As I said, I love this issue! So much happens, so much back-story, the history of the Destroyer and Dyna-Mite collide cleverly with the Original Union Jack.
Spitfire's return and Cap catching back up with the other team members who at least get an “I hate you Nazis” cameo completes a team feel this title hasn't had for a while.
The action is strong and the urgency high, this feels like a significant story.
Next Issue: The One You’ve Been Waiting For!! The BATTLE of BERLIN!
The Mighty Destroyer first appeared in MYSTIC COMICS #6 (O'41) where he was American reporter Keen Marlow. He was created by Stan Lee and was the fifth most published Timely hero after Cap, Namor, the Torch and the Golden Age Angel.
He had an unique look but I could never get past the striped leggings!
At first Keen Marlow was retconned as an alias for Brian Falsworth but then he once again became a separate person, thus there were THREE distinct Destroyers running around the MU in the Forties!
The third Destroyer comes after this story, Richard!
And I really haven't been gone but thanks!