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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Mary gained super-powers (either super-senses or some sort of psychic power) in Marvel Mystery Comics #50.  The splash page of the story featured a "Miss Patriot" logo and showed her in a colorful costume that otherwise didn't appear in the story.  As far as I know, she never appeared again, at least as a super-heroine. That is, until this mini-series.

Too bad, she could have formed a group with the first Golden Girl, Sun Girl and Namora!

I'm surprised that no one has put together an all-girl team of Timely's post-war heroines--throw in Miss America & Blonde Phantom and they'd be a match for any Golden Age super-team!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT #2 (11/10)
“Part Two – ALL WINNERS”

Writer – Karl Kesel Artist – Mitch Breitweiser
Colour artist – Bette Breitweiser

That is another beautiful cover – depicting the Patriot-Cap taking over from the dead Spirit-of-’76-Cap.

It should be noted however that those events were covered last issue and we’ve moved beyond that in this issue.


This works more as an alternative cover to last issue or even to What If #4.
But it’s beautiful and I can’t help but praise it not only for it’s subject matter and quality but even the fact that Namor has turned his back as if to say ‘the real Cap is dead, No One will ever take his place’ but also he’s turned back slightly as if …’but this new guy might have promise’ – mirroring his attitude of the 70th Anniversary Issue discussed above and the gradual changing of his opinions of Mace as Cap in this series.

 

I’m probably reading too much into it but it deserves its place on the back cover of the trade.

 

Anyway, inside and we begin in September 1946 and Miss Patriot, the slightly unhinged kind-of-girlfriend of our hero the Patriot is shown fighting the good fight, but enjoying it too much and we hear she likes wearing Lavender perfume (that might be important later!) – and is not averse to using a pistol either.

She is visibly stung by comments that the Patriot is conspicuous by his absence these days.

The scene cuts to England where we find ‘the All-Winners Squad’ fighting their soviet counter-parts the Soviet super-soldiers.


We also learn that Jeff Mace is finding stepping secretly into another’s role not so easy as he nearly gave the game away discussing with the Red Guardian of the Soviets an adventure that never occurred and he feels left out of strategy as he doesn’t fully understand all the information around him.


Namor especially gives Mace a hard time for failing to live up to the Cap legacy reinforcing the usual pompous nature of Namor but also his respect for Steve Rogers.

 

Miss Patriot listens on the radio to an impromptu interview with Captain America and recognises the voice as Jeff’s and realises where the Patriot has been of late.

 

Meanwhile Jeff learns from the female FBI liaison we met last issue that he isn’t the first to take over from the original Cap. She is named here as Betsy Ross.


The scene between her and Mace is interrupted by Miss Patriot who reunites with Cap and explains she knows who he really is.

She explains she’ll keep his secret, appears encouraged to hear the rumours of romance between him and Miss America is just for the press and puts a bid in to be considered for the ‘role’ of Bucky if it’s needed.

 

That triggers Mace into a rage and he sends Miss Patriot away with a flea in her ear…but did she really mean what she said in such a callous way?


Oh, it’s also noted again that she wears Lavender perfume.(…that might be important)


After her exit the rest of Cap’s team explain to him that she’d actually come with some bad news for him.

Their old friend at the Daily Bugle who had gone to war had been discharged and actually just committed suicide!
This deeply upsets Mace who instantly declares Captain America will attend the funeral.


He is overruled with determination. Cap appearing at the funeral of a ‘disgraced’ person would damage the reputation and the propaganda power of Captain America the brand irrevocably.


Mace compromises by having the seldom-seen-in-public-Patriot attend the funeral, both helping the public understand people like his dead friend and damaging the Patriot’s image with equal measure – while keeping Captain America above and out of it.


It ends up being the last public appearance of the Patriot, sneered at by Namor until Mace socks him one in the face in a watershed moment between them.


The following year’s adventures are glossed over quickly and we learn Mace is more comfortable in the role and in his team and they celebrate his birthday with Betsy Ross.

Ross reminds him of Miss Patriot having her career cut short by his last actions as the Patriot and we learn she still keeps a (super-powered) ear out for his adventures..

 

Finally, Captain America and Bucky patrol the night only to have Bucky gunned mercilessly down by an unseen assailant….that leaves a scent of Lavender behind…!

 

Although some of the action is specifically set in England we still see Miss America and the Whizzer on the team and no sign of Spitfire and Union Jack.


The problems faced by Mace as the third incarnation of Cap and the way his teammates treat him is fascinating and highly realistic as is the spin put on things to keep the public propaganda machine moving.

 

The Soviet Super-Soldiers is a wonderful nod to continuity that I liked, especially as I realised I asked myself …’why doesn’t Cap remember fighting the Red Guardian before his modern marvel appearance in the Avengers #43-44… ? – then I realised – this is a different Cap! …clever!

 

When introduced as Betsy Ross, she makes comment that that is her real name and someone must have had 'a sense of humour' assigning her to our heroes.

This completely passed me by.

Other than the fact that I’m sure there must have been a Timely character by that name…especially in view of her role later in this series…I thought this must have been a reference to the modern marvel use of that name as the Hulk’s girlfriend, but that didn’t explain any ‘sense of humour’.

I believe I’ve since solved my conundrum…Betsy Ross appears to be a real American historical figure that designed/created the very first American flag! – I’m taking it that’s the link alluded to here..(.boy…!)

 

The romance between Cap and Miss America is played up much more in the 70th Anniversary issue but it’s an important nod here.

 

The Lavender perfume plot point grates a little. Is it really that unusual a scent that it would identify its user so uniquely…isn’t it a scent many many ladies may wear in that time…?

 

It is alluded to that Cap’s dead friend was perhaps homosexual and that was the reason for his dismissal from the forces and his eventual suicide.  "Did he ever have a girlfriend?"

The fact that Cap wouldn’t stand for such prejudice fits wonderfully and builds Mace’s personal character and moral fibre well while still maintaining a difference in emphasis between the two wearers of the Cap mask, Mace is not Rogers and vice-versa.

 

Jeff Mace appearing at the funeral of his friend as Captain America is neatly played on when the first time we see Jeff at the funeral is his Captain America like red glove…but then we realise that the Patriot wore red gloves too and we see he attends as the Patriot instead.

It works well, but in the trade I’m reading from the ‘reveal’ of being the Patriot and not Cap is immediate, on the same two page spread, it would have been better if the page needed to be turned before the reveal…

 

I loved the punch to Namor…”” I don’t know if that was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen – or the stupidest—“
“I – I think I broke my hand…”


Excellent art, excellent writing, excellent characterisation.

Again. A quality product..

 

Come back next time for…”Part three – Truth and Justice”

In the original Captain America series, Betsy Ross was a WAC/FBI agent who served as Cap/Steve's primary love interest, and eventually became the first Golden Girl.  When Cap was revived in the Marvel Age, the Hulk already had a girlfriend named Betty Ross, so in Cap's WW2 flashbacks, the role originally played by Betsy Ross was given to the newly created Peggy Carter, originally the older sister of Sharon Carter, and now her great-aunt or something.  In more recent years, Betsy Ross has been restored to Cap's canon, and her relationship with her current day namesake established.  Exactly where Peggy Carter fits in anymore, I'm not sure.

Thankyou Dave. I knew someone would join the dots. I love this group.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT #3 (12/10)
“Part Three – TRUTH & JUSTICE”

Writer – Karl Kesel Artist – Mitch Breitweiser
Colour artist – Bette Breitweiser

That is another beautiful cover – depicting the brutal shooting of Bucky while Cap looks helplessly on with the sound effect separate.


It’s a moody poignant piece.


The action picks up as Bucky is in hospital being operated on and Cap is blaming himself, vowing to bring those responsible to book, alone…


”I do this ALONE.”


Clearly Mace believes he knows who shot Bucky and heads straight for slightly-unhinged Mary Morgan/Miss Patriot’s address.


Cap confronts her and they dance around it a bit and clearly he believes her guilt …but she retaliates and points him in the right direction - a bar in chinatown..
Cap leaves on the new trail and Mary slips away from her home with a suitcase and a taxi…

 

Cap storms the bar and showing quite a temper demands to know who shot Bucky…revealing the true shooter - a lady in a Lavender dress, and domino mask, smelling of Lavender perfume…called…um…Lavender? (Lady Lavender…?)


“Just so we’re clear – you shot Bucky, right?”


Backup arrives in the form of a yellow costumed female in a green cloak, (revealed to be the bulletproof cloak that belonged to the Spirit of ’76) – dyed green and worn by Cap’s FBI liaison Betsy Ross.

(told you she’d be important).

 

Cap visits the recovering but never likely to be fully-fit again, Fred/Bucky and tells of his new partner that the press have christened 'Golden Girl’

 

Cap confers with the All-Winners Squad, finally receiving the praise of Namor, but quits the team to concentrate of training rookie Betsy and remaining in his home town, fighting for the local good.

 

You may expect the series to wind up in a ‘happy-ever-after’ moment between Jeff and Betsy, but no, she tells him to keep things professional and we learn she’s still watching him for the FBI first and foremost.

In case the country still needs protection from him…
…there’s more yet!

 

I believe the shooting of Bucky was an actual Timely Comics event and so is woven very well into continuity here,

(circa Captain America Comics #66 ?)
As is the taking of Golden girl as replacement sidekick by Cap.

 

I love the colouring of Bucky on the cover, the red buttons on his tunic and shorts always give the uniform a much more military look and it’s a shame it wasn’t the colouring norm.

 

It was SO obvious that Mary shot Bucky, especially in view of the perfume…but were we as readers being dragged down the wrong alley – were we acting like Jeff Mace, believing we were up to the job when really we were just grabbing at simplistic straws…?

Inspired writing.

 

Lavender the baddie is unfortunately drawn rather like Betsy Ross and for a confusing moment I found myself thinking this was her, a traitor to Cap , rather than the one we believed was a traitor to Cap in the form of Miss Patriot…it threw me.


It REALLY threw me that it wasn’t either of them!


It turns out she’s not a character we’d seen before, and the story suffers a bit for that, no real grudge against Bucky.,

 

Betsy Ross as Golden Girl is another continuity gem, was the bulletproof cloak always something she had or was that an addition here?
Clearly the link to William Naslund’s Spirit of ’76 is new , but it’s a well utilised point.

 

I would have liked some reference to the status of the Golden Girl that the original Bucky and Toro fought alongside in the Kid Commando appearances in the original Invaders issues, it’s an annoying omission.

 

We also learn that Jeff Mace was born on Yancy Street which is either yet another wonderful continuity easter egg, or a link too far.

 

Again, this is a quality product.

The only big question left to answer is…does Jeff Mace really walk away from being Captain America?

 

Come back next issue for –“ Part Four – PATRIOT”

I believe that this was the first time that Golden Girl was revealed to have a bullet-proof cloak, which I thought was a nice touch.  In the original comics, she was just a prettier replacement for Bucky (altho I don't think she got tied up quite as often as Bucky did).  Back in the day, Bucky was put out of action when a female crime boss named Lavender (who wore a yellow dress in the original story), so the bit with Mary's perfume was a red herring from the start.  Of course, since Lavender had only appeared in that one story, with no real background, one supposes that she might just as well have turned out to be a jealous Miss Patriot.

Lavender's dress was yellow on the cover, but apparently it was purple inside. This page (in French) has a number of images from the story. According to Martin O'Hearn the story was written by William Woolfolk (a hat-tip to the GCD for this information).

I wish Lavender had become the new sidekick instead. Her sense of style tops Besty's by a mile.

Golden Girl's outfit was a disappointment, wasn't it?  I know that in at least a couple appearances, her yellow & green outfit was colored red & blue, but that just made her look more like Miss America, who probably should have been made Cap's female partner in the first place, given their shared name.

There were risqué shots for the time there!

But geez, Golden Girl's outfit was awful!


 
Luke Blanchard said:

Lavender's dress was yellow on the cover, but apparently it was purple inside. This page (in French) has a number of images from the story. According to Martin O'Hearn the story was written by William Woolfolk (a hat-tip to the GCD for this information).

I wish Lavender had become the new sidekick instead. Her sense of style tops Besty's by a mile.

To be fair, it's probably more practical than Lavender's outfits for superheroing.

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