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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I've always said that The Thin Man is a typical early '30s talkie, stilted dialogue, stiff (over)acting and weird expressions and movements except for the performances of William Powell and Myrna Loy which is why the film and the characters resonate to this day!

It also had a young Maureen O'Sullivan and Cesar Romero!

Good description.  I'm VERY good when it comes to following complex murder mysteries.  But when I finally got around to seeing THE THIN MAN, uncut, uninterrupted, good print, on TCM...  I couldn't make heads or tails of the plot AT ALL!!! A total mess!!! Except, of course, it's so much fun to watch Nick & Nora.

It just occurs to me, the same sort of thinking probably led to the revised version of THE BIG SLEEP with Bogart & Bacall.  EVEN klnowing the plot, EVEN having read the book, the film is still ALMOST impossible to follow, the first 5 or 6 times you watch it. (heehee) 

Ironically, my introduction to Raymond Chandler, Philip Marlowe & Robert Mitchum was the remake of THE BIG SLEEP.  And I followed the plot from start to finish, with NO problem at all!  So, having seen that, and STILL not being able to follow the Bogart version, you know there was a problem...

I have often wondered why all (especially now Bucky's back now!) the original Invaders were brought back - and Byrne had to work hard in the case of Spitfire...but the second Union Jack (long serving team member) who had been the lauded Mighty Destroyer before that... Was allowed to stay dead.!!




Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Sadly yes.

Henry R. Kujawa said:

Sure seems like these guys spent an awful lot of energy KILLING OFF old heroes, doesn't it?

 

Invaders #5 – “Red Skull In The Sunset!”

writer/editor Roy Thomas, Rick Buckler & Dick Ayres – art, Jim Mooney – embellisher.


The action starts in a defence plant in Midwest America – being destroyed by traitorous Captain America, Sub-Mariner and both Torches!
It is revealed that not only are these the real deal Invaders but they are now working for the major Nazi villain – the Red Skull – and appear to be happy to do so!
Of course we then get a flashback explanation set a few days before – including the Invaders discussing propaganda comics heroes and other heroes out in the field doing their bit for the war effort. (A harmless down-time aside by our heroes….or a sneaky plot point slipped in almost unnoticed.?)
We move on to a War Bonds parade celebrating the Invaders team – ambushed by gunmen and – in a strange and unexplained wormhole portal – the Red Skull who easily defeats and abducts the entire team…except for Bucky who he labels …”merely a mascot—a camp-follower – and I’ve no use for you” and leaves him behind…”like I was an ant, not even worth stepping on!”.
The issue rounds off with Bucky being similarly dismissed by the President and things appearing bleak.


…To Be Continued in Marvel Premiere #29!

There are some interesting points regarding this issue. This is the first issue where internal art is not handled by Frank Robbins – and although Buckler, Ayres and Mooney do a perfectly serviceable job here – the ‘heart’ of the Invaders series is missing. The fact that our heroes are acting out of character at the opening of this tale is actually difficult to notice initially– as they just seemed wrong anyway!


Even the evil monocled gun-toting nazi didn’t look right. (Or is that that he didn’t look ‘wrong-enough’ – where were the goggle-eyes?)

 

The comic-book heroes importance here is classic Roy Thomas – even referencing the Fin who I’m sure is one of the ‘imaginary heroes’ conjured up by Rick Jones in the Avengers Kree-Skrull War.

 

The appearance of the Red Skull and his wormhole is confusing and vague. Where did he get such power ? With such power to transport our heroes away as he does – why does he not just transport away places like the defence plant rather than set brainwashed heroes at it?

 

I remember the ‘leave the powerless hero behind at your peril’ plot device was not that well used in the days this was published (which actually came first? This – or the similar tale with Swordsman and Kang in the Avengers?)
I remember even then though, finding it hard to swallow. Cap himself was hardly a ‘powerhouse’ and it was clear that Bucky was going to drag the good guys up from the doldrums and take the fight to the Skull – even to the young me reading in the day!

 

I believe I first read this in the British Marvel black and white reprints and so the significance of being continued, not in the next issues of the Invaders series but in those of ‘Marvel Premiere’ was lost on me. It was of course, even then, clear that certainly with the next chapters of this arc this was to be a pitch at a new spin-off title – as most of Marvel Premiere was planned to be….

 

Which is where I’ll pick this thread back up soon…

The Skull made the standard supervillain mistake: he ignored the sidekick.

...and not only ignored him but pretty much called him naval lint! 

No wonder that about 70 years later, Marvel time, Bucky (as Winter Soldier) assassinated the Skull!

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

The Skull made the standard supervillain mistake: he ignored the sidekick.

Anyway, liked the issue. Liked the art. Thinking about it just now, though, the Red Skull was thought dead but I don't remember seeing a footnote to a previous Red Skull appearance. Was this a published story that Thomas was referring or one of those yet-to-be published adventures?

Everything is kind of vague but you just know they're going to come back and explain everything!

Mark, there was the discussion between the President and his aide...
"The Red Skull!? But our best sources assured me that nazi devil drowned months ago in combat with Captain America!"
"And before that the story was that he'd been blown up ---- and before that, that he'd fallen off a cliff."

I think Thomas was trying to cover the fact that the Skull's continuity was a bit too vague for footnote references to actual appearences.




Mark Stanislawski said:

Anyway, liked the issue. Liked the art. Thinking about it just now, though, the Red Skull was thought dead but I don't remember seeing a footnote to a previous Red Skull appearance. Was this a published story that Thomas was referring or one of those yet-to-be published adventures?

Everything is kind of vague but you just know they're going to come back and explain everything!

You're right!! Nice one, Rich.

Marvel Premiere #29 – “Lo, The Liberty Legion”
Writer/editor- Roy Thomas, Don Heck artist

Bucky bursts into a radio broadcast with some deep determination, interrupting hero the Patriot and indeed fighting him for the microphone, calling him a ‘second string Captain America’.


Bucky calms a little and explains that as his teammates in the Invaders had all been brainwashed into working for the Red Skull, he wanted to reassure the country there were still some patriotic heroes left. Oddly enough the Patriot was trying to be just as, urm, patriotic.

 

So, differences aside they begin to broadcast appeals for other mystery heroes to come forward and help the war effort and as they consult file pages of different heroes origins we get to see snippets of the actual heroes in the field.


Red Raven (adopted by a race of bird-men, looking like the hawkman out of Flash Gordon) gets attacked as he finds a plane of nazi-spies.


The Thin Man ( explorer who located a hidden paradise and given the secret power of becoming ultra-thin ) who intervenes against the same plane and frees the Red Raven.


The Whizzer (bitten in Africa by a deadly cobra, his father died while giving him a life-saving blood transfusion from a mongoose, and yet he never called himself ‘Mongoose-Man’) – saves a train from being blown up by, yep, them nasty Nazis again.


Whizzer meets and is helped by Miss America (whose ‘feminine curiosity’ meant she was in the wrong place in an electrical storm and recovered to become the female hero)


The Blue Diamond (Antartic explorer discovered a blue diamond, got torpedoed on the way home but when shards of the diamond embedded themselves in him he became – well, as strong as a diamond.) breaks up a nazi attack on a lecture he’s giving.


Eventually, these five heroes, having heard Bucky and the Patriot’s appeals arrive at the radio station where another nazi agent threatened to set off a bomb, killing them all, until a final mystery man , calling himself Jack Frost (no origin shown) and referring to the others as ‘mortals’ arrives and saves the day – just in time for a rallying cry, a team name and a crossover with the next issue of the Invaders!

 

The writing is fair enough, lots of story/back-stories here and the art, by Don Heck is almost a deliberate hybrid of his own style AND that of the Invaders regular Frank Robbins. The figures seem a bit more kinetic that Heck usually goes for, and the villains are that bit more evil/ugly/boggle-eyed .(– is it just my imagination ?)

 

Thomas’s text piece introducing the new guys and gal is fascinating – even down to explaining that he went for the Thin Man being coloured green as there was too much blue in all the other teammembers. He wanted seven members on the team and his choices are detailed .

 

The ‘file pages’ helping explain the origins of the team was a new feature to me at that time and very memorable, commonly used since, they make for a good introduction when interpersed with mini-chapters of the actual heroes in action.

 

I do wonder if her had always intended the Invaders to gain a female member soon, or if it was the choice of putting Miss America in the Liberty legion that showed him what the Invaders were missing – and with Frank Robbins’ ability to draw blonde females…?

 

As an issue of Marvel Premiere this is a perfect ‘premiere’ of a new team/group/title, there’s a reason for the team getting together, a lot of history and a good amount of current characterisation, - what the Liberty Legion never got, though, was it’s own title.
This is screaming “spin-off”, so, why didn’t it fly?
Maybe it was too early, maybe they were just too similar to our Invaders – who had the big draws of the big-guns in it already, I’m not sure, but it really never felt likely the Liberty Legion would flourish at all.

Oh, and I loved the iconic cover too!

 

Next – back to the Invaders regular title – “And Let The Battle Begin!”!!

Roy Thomas wanted seven members for the Liberty Legion because the Justice Society had seven members in the stories he read as a child.

You already had

Red Raven = Hawkman

The Whizzer = the Flash

Miss America =  Wonder Woman

The Patriot was "every" non-powered hero.

Blue Diamond was the group's strongman. Every super team had one.

Jack Frost was a reverse Human Torch and an early Stan Lee character.

The Thin Man could be a serious Plastic Man but Roy loved the name!

But why then, Philip, did he not make the Invaders  his Justice Society in the first place?

The 'All-Winners Squad' later suposedly featured Whizzer and Miss America, why didn't he put them in the Invaders from the get go? That would have been 7 members.?

Philip Portelli said:

Roy Thomas wanted seven members for the Liberty Legion because the Justice Society had seven members in the stories he read as a child.

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