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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Most soldiers don't return home from the war to continue fighting the Hordes of Hydra, who were enough to give anyone Nazi flashbacks, at least back in the Silver Age.  But I take your point.  I was just curious if anyone had ever actually addressed this sudden change, or if perhaps I've just let all those "Cap & Bucky with tommy guns" covers color my concept of Golden Age Cap.  Certainly, the retconning that went into turning Bucky into Cap's "black ops" partner implied that Cap himself never went in for killing at all.  Just how Bucky managed to kill that many Nazis off-panel while he was tied up or strapped down for most of the war, I can't guess.

Hasn't it since been revealed that Spitfire is also a vampire, and has been since WWII? Which makes the Baron Blood story apocryphal, or she was faking being old.

I also really enjoyed the Stern-Byrne Captain America, especially after years of being disappointed by the title. I think I've mentioned before that I really didn't care for Mark Gruenwald's Cap, and he wrote the book for ages. So I don't know if the Stern-Byrne Cap was really that good, or if the bar was set so low that they really couldn't do worse.

I, too, am a bit put-out that the off-camera death of the Mighty Destroyer has stood up. It has, hasn't it? Although I remember a Destroyer in some anthology set in the present day where he's very old but still pretty tough, and does occasional black ops jobs for the gov't. (I might be confusing that with Image's The Brit, though.) I've still not got a good explanation for why a guy working behind enemy lines wore vertical blue-red stripes on his legs! "I've escaped that patrol! Now to blend in with the crowd! Oops!" It's tough on the ol' suspension of disbelief!

As for killing, there was a bit in (I think) the first Flag-Smasher story, where Cap agonized over killing a flunky and (IIRC) public opinion wasn't on his side, either. But at some point that was put aside, and if I think about it long enough, I can probably remember when the Cap writers quietly buried the "Cap doesn't kill" idea.

Incidentally, the Hulk was never shown to kill anyone for decades! All of his fights were in the desert or in ghost towns or in "the abandoned warehouse district" of cities. It eventually got so ridiculous that Marvel eventually came up with a rationale for it. Now the idea is that Bruce Banner's brain, buried deep in the Hulk's psyche, works out all the math for every one of Hulk's moves so that no deaths result. That's not terribly plausible -- how would Banner know if a Hulk blow would start vibrations that would knock a clock off a mantle 15 miles away and kill whoever was under it? But at least they finally acknowledged that the idea Hulk had never killed anyone -- even accidentally -- was pretty silly.

I’ve never really liked the Spitfire’s a vampire development – especially as it seemed to just be accepted as a long-standing truth when first mooted……it’ll be a long time before I have to consider it in the Invaders issues I’m reviewing thankfully…and I’m working on ignoring it altogether…?

As for the Destroyer series you describe, I believe that was a ‘MAX’ imprint where it was explained as a different chap was actually the Mighty Destroyer before AND alongside our Brian in a blending of the Golden Age and the Silver Age. (why bother?) I prefer to think of it as an alternate dimension kind of thing!

The reason I remember there being a ‘Cap doesn’t kill’ edict was the tremendous fuss made when he and Rick Jones were ‘there at the death’ of Baron Zemo circa Avengers #15 and #16.
Cap went gunning for revenge against Zemo for his murder of Bucky but Zemo died accidentally/incidentally and not because Cap made it happen!
That seemed a fine line even then.

Captain Comics said:

Hasn't it since been revealed that Spitfire is also a vampire, and has been since WWII? Which makes the Baron Blood story apocryphal, or she was faking being old.

I also really enjoyed the Stern-Byrne Captain America, especially after years of being disappointed by the title. I think I've mentioned before that I really didn't care for Mark Gruenwald's Cap, and he wrote the book for ages. So I don't know if the Stern-Byrne Cap was really that good, or if the bar was set so low that they really couldn't do worse.

I, too, am a bit put-out that the off-camera death of the Mighty Destroyer has stood up. It has, hasn't it? Although I remember a Destroyer in some anthology set in the present day where he's very old but still pretty tough, and does occasional black ops jobs for the gov't. (I might be confusing that with Image's The Brit, though.) I've still not got a good explanation for why a guy working behind enemy lines wore vertical blue-red stripes on his legs! "I've escaped that patrol! Now to blend in with the crowd! Oops!" It's tough on the ol' suspension of disbelief!

As for killing, there was a bit in (I think) the first Flag-Smasher story, where Cap agonized over killing a flunky and (IIRC) public opinion wasn't on his side, either. But at some point that was put aside, and if I think about it long enough, I can probably remember when the Cap writers quietly buried the "Cap doesn't kill" idea.

The MAX Destroyer was Keen Marlowe, the original Golden Age Destroyer, that we had been told was only a comic book character back when Brian Falsworth was introduced as the "real" Mighty Destroyer.  Roger Aubrey (the original Dyna-Mite, then the second--or third Mighty Destroyer) has also appeared as an elderly Destroyer as part of the V-Battalion.

Have you actually read the MAX Destroyer series Dave? I'd love to know if it's worth my hard earned and are there any trades of significant appearances of Aubrey in the V Battalion anyone knows of?

I read it, but I can't say that I remember that much about it, if that helps.  It didn't bother me as much as many of the MAX versions of existing Marvel characters, but that's pretty faint praise.  If you can find it cheap, it's worth a look, more than cover price, probably not.  Of course, your mileage may vary.

Thankyou Dave. I probably won't add it to my wish list.
Now, Has anyone read either of the Union Jack trades? Sounds much more my Inaders kind of stuff!?

NAMOR #10 (01/91)
“Dark Nativity”

Words and Pictures – John Byrne

Not a bad cover, good centre stage Namor figure and it’s great to see our friend the Original Human Torch on the cover .

The title only appears on the cover.


Namor in his suit in the masthead looks really smug and the NAMOR logo looks good if a little overlarge and the ‘Marvel’s First and Mightiest Mutant ' and sub-title – ‘the Sub-Mariner-' all makes it too wordy and busy.


We get a prologue from 1945 and a promise that Nazi Nasties Master Man and Warrior Woman will return one day and then we fast forward to the present.

Namor is reading of the reunification of the Sudetenland and his young (New Warrior) cousin (?)Namorita is trying to understand the historical significance.


Namor discusses his concerns and memories with cameoing Captain America and then makes his private jetted way to Germany.


There are ongoing Namor sub-plots featuring villainous Marrs siblings and even Misty Knight, Coleen Wing and Danny Rand/Iron Fist but they don’t really concern us Invaders fans.

 

The restored powerful Nazi Master Man awaits the restoration of his love Warrior Woman and recalls their marriage, pointed out to have been an interrupted ceremony…we remember don’t we..?

We learn that the Android Human Torch has been captured by Master Man, originally to try a transfusion to restore Nasty Nazi Nora and then Namor arrives.

Namor and Master Man duke it out but the decisive blow is dispatched by the now recovered Warrior Woman and Namor joins the Torch, helpless between the Nazi powerhouses.

“Dedication! This One’s For Frank Robbins – with Admiration – John Byrne 1990”

 

Namor’s own series was a good solid title with some interesting themes and I’d recommend the first two (only two?) trade collections (this issue begins volume two.)

Later issues after Byrne’s interest waned suffer and cancellation came way too late but here there are some good ideas - the explanation of why Namor used to be such a moody/ bipolar kind of a goodie/baddie was inspired but not strictly an Invaders plot point…so I'll move on...


Byrne’s urge to make a good Invaders story overlapped here with his urge to re-do the end of the Iron Fist title he used to work on…** SPOILER**

Danny Rand seen here is not the real one.

His story later dominates Namor’s title to such a degree that Namor soon becomes a bit-player in his own title…which was possible here but saving grace being that there was a good reason for Namor to be involved in this Invaders tale.., he was an Invader!


The bandaged form of Warrior Woman next to the Torch on metal beds are drawn in such a design as to be very reminiscent of the Wasp and Jocasta in Avengers #162 don’t you think?

 

Art wise John Byrne was in an interesting phase, not as ‘clean’ as his early X-Men work when inked by others and with a – I believe – experimental shadowing/tonal effect that actually I really liked and gave the title a cinematic quality.

Byrne later in his career gets more self indulgent and rushed (I hated his Wonder Woman –around the time of his Donna troy storyline!) – But here I think he still deserves praise.

 

This begins a three issue Invaders themed storyline and it is very much set up only here but look, Namor, the Torch and even Cap in the same issue!

The Invaders are coming back!

And there are more developments to come…!

I looked it up -- the five-issue Destroyer series was printed in 2009, and it was written by Robert Kirkman! The story is that Keen Marlowe has been told he's dying (cancer? I forget) and decides to kill all of his super-villains before he goes. for some reason, I want to believe his power levels were Namor-level at this point. But I really don't remember it very well, possibly because in 2009 I was pretty confused about Destroyer continuity. With no "furnished room" in which to place the story in my head, it just floated away. It has been collected in trade (2010).

As for the bandaged figure on the Namor cover looking like the Jocasta business, I see all of these type of images paying homage to Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and in that sense they all resemble each other.

NAMOR #11 (02/91)
“Reunion”

Words and Pictures – John Byrne

Actually that’s not a great cover. It’s clear they were going for a very stark mostly blacks high-lit only in red, dramatic cover and the logo and title – with the swastika – work well towards that, but the angle seems wrong and it actually seems quite difficult to tell what’s going on.


I think the masthead of Namor in the suit should have been removed altogether but even then I’m not really sure why this doesn’t work as well as it should.

Anyone any ideas?


The title only appears on the cover.

Namor has been captured and is in a drying block contraption, so dehydrated he’s delirious.


We get flashbacks of very young Namor being shunned as different by other Atlanteans and also flashbacks to the early days of Nazi nasty enemy Master Man.


We see the formation of the wartime Invaders and the origin of Warrior Woman along with Namor’s revival from his amnesia by the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and finally, the mission that led to Namor’s capture last issue.

 

Eventually Namor wakens to the reality around him and the also caged innocent Ann Raymond, (grown-up Toro’s widow who had guest-starred in West Coast Avengers issues locating/resurrecting the Original Human Torch prior to his kidnapping here.)


Newly resurrected Warrior Woman is having some mood swings.


We meet her benefactor, the real uber-villain of these pieces, a mysterious ‘Herr Nacht’ who sees himself as a new Fuhrer.


There’s a sub-plot involving Misty Knight, Coleen Wing and the possibility Danny Rand isn’t who he says he is…which doesn’t concern us…..

 

Eventually, a rather poached Namor breaks his bonds, and fights some Nazi-thugs whilst hallucinating that they are Nazi troops (not much different really).

As Herr Nacht and Warrior Woman remain in his penthouse headquarters, Master Man flies off to fight Namor as he is being rescued by…


…Spitfire, Union Jack and …Namora….?


Namor announces the arrival of the Invaders…!


What?


Namor in the block cage was very reminiscent of his cages throughout many an Invaders issue.

 

Was the capture of Torch and Ann Raymond actually shown in these pages?

My guess and recollection is that it wasn’t – (I’m covering these issues from the second Namor Visionaries trade) – if not do we get any sort of explanation why she is in her underwear here?

Are we to assume she was sleeping and if so…she was alone…?

 

Warrior Woman may have brain damage…you think?


Herr Nacht? Is that Mr. Night, not the most original of names, is he supposed to be known to the reader from somewhere else – if so it’s not clear.

He also looks really odd too, long blond hair but is that a deep tan or non-Caucasian colouring …?

 

Namor in his delirium seeing the neo-fascists as Nazi storm troopers was a distinction not really worth making here, except that it sets things up for next issue – Namor needed to be seeing things just a bit wrong…

 

The arrival of this unexpected trio of Invaders is followed by a dull scene as Master Man sets off back to fight Namor, it’s a serious misstep in the action I don’t understand, a last page, full-page reveal of the Invaders arrival would have had much more effect wouldn’t it?

Also - I forget, but could Master Man fly...?

 

As a middle parter of a three issue adventure, this does its job, it’s reintroduced us to the heroes, set up the villain’s position and raced towards a thrilling climax…

 

But! How many people were shouting at Byrne here that he didn’t know his Invaders like we did…?

Namora? Aside from being dead in current continuity, she was never a member of the Invaders…oh and Spitfire is an old maid not young and sprightly…what’s Byrne playing at…?

Come back…and see....

(...and see why I really added this story to the 'Invaders' thread!)

 

Next issue:” The INVADERS Fight Again!!”

My recollection is in Invaders #16 Master Man apparently flies (he's able to whip up air currents that snuff out the Torches' flames). In the subsequent issues it's established he can only leap very high. #16 was one of the issues drawn by Jim Mooney instead of Frank Robbins.

I didn't remember that Luke, thanks. I prefer him not to be able ti fly though, it was a super-soldier-lite serum that gave him his powers and Cap who got the afull strength stuff never could fly after all.

Now what about Mr Night, Luke?

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