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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WHAT IF? #4 (8/77)

What If The INVADERS Had Stayed Together AFTER World War Two?
Writer – Roy Thomas Art – Frank Robbins & Frank Springer


This story begins with a fascinating other link to Avengers #4 and #56 in Captain America and Bucky’s final battle against Baron Zemo – and his android henchman. (No meglamaniac is complete without one!).

This leads to our heroes strapped to a missile that blows up apparently killing both of them.

The ‘swipe ‘from Cap’s shield is a clever detail from #56 (Sept 68) that solidified its part in Cap’s continuity…I wonder who wrote that one…?

 

Miss America and the Whizzer graduate from the Liberty Legion into the team, cementing the idea of the post-war ‘All-Winners Squad’.

 

Now, in reality we all now know that Cap was sent into decades of suspended animation in an ice pack and Bucky was truly dead….no…he too survived but remained hidden for much longer and was used by the Soviets as the Winter Soldier every now and then for more decades…

 

The Invaders begin this double-sized issuer much as they were in ‘reality’ including the new Union Jack who was brand new at the time of publication.


Spitfire and Union Jack stay at home as the rest of the team go to the USA to be told that Cap and Bucky are dead!


The ‘idea’ of Captain America is too powerful to be allowed to die however, so replacement s are brought in for the Star Spangled hero and his young partner, in the guise of Fred Davis a young man who once stood in for Bucky in the vs Red Skull Liberty Legion days and William Naslund – who until that point had been his own patriotic hero – the Spirit of 76 – previously a ‘Crusader' and another bit player in the great Invaders history..

 

Much as they try, they never quite live up to the originals and indeed Naslund eventually dies in battle with an android by the name of ‘Adam 2’ who was another spare part Human Torch.

We get Professor Horton and even an early appearance of JFK!

 

Next to step up to the ‘I’m Captain America’ plate then is a man who until that point had led the Liberty Legion as the Patriot!
He takes the identity through the rest of the war alongside that 2nd Bucky.

 

What If ? as a concept was in its earliest incarnation and led to some fascinating early issues, with such amazingly off the wall concepts as the Marvel Bullpen as the Fantastic four, Flash Thompson as a spider-themed hero and other such wacky ideas….!


Later What If’s always seemed to end with many heroic deaths and global destruction but these early stories were intelligent possibilities...indeed this one was the perfect example of a sensible ‘possibility’ it became accepted as ‘true’ continuity.

 

This reunites the Invaders dream team of Robbins and Springer on artwork and it actually came out at the same time as Invaders #19 which was probably the peak of the Invaders success all round.


This was probably the reason why Roy Thomas appeared to run out of ideas or passion for the team from about #19 onwards too.


It was clearly important to Thomas to ‘explain’ how pre-Marvel adventures could be made to fit Marvel continuity and this was an excellent way of explaining how Cap and Bucky were published throughout the entire war but in modern Marvel Cap was –on ice- for the latter part.

 

The thing is – it was probably ONLY Thomas that was particularly bothered by it and how the personalities fitted into there make up of the, actually seldom published ‘All-Winners Squad’.

 

He clearly relished the opportunity to make it all make sense and under the – new- guise of the ‘What If? Concept he explored his pitch that the actual ‘deaths’ of Cap and Bucky had been kept secret from the public and the heroes replaced in a propaganda war against the Nazis.


The fact that ‘Captain America’ had had to be replaced TWICE is I’m sure another example of how literally Thomas was taking those early stories but it strikes many as unnecessarily complicated but actually adds to the myth that ‘no-one can truly replace Steve Rogers’.


Union Jack and Spitfire are marginalised very quickly – even though they didn’t feature in the ‘All-Winners Squad’ that Thomas was so hung up on – it does surprise that Thomas introduced these two characters only to effectively leave them out of his writing afterwards, why did he utilise them if he really wanted Miss America and the Whizzer in the first place …they were available.

 

Using two heroes that emulated Captain America is a solid idea, although why the Spirit of 76 gives up his bullet-proof cloak I’ll never understand! – But. Where do they get the idea of who’ll be Bucky from…? The-boy-who stood-in –once. But didn’t fight gets to be Bucky for the rest of the war…? With no super-powers …?

(He has to wait many decades to really get his moment in the spotlight too!)


This one issue then led to the last half of the Invaders series, a homage to Naslund story arc in Captain America many years later…and a Patriot series we’ll be getting to very soon!

 

Next – a closer look at the Captain America replaced team in the All-Winner’s 70th Anniversary Special!

My recollection is the letters page of What If? #6 had a note by Thomas saying that he agreed with responses that the story could've been set in 'real" continuity and was declaring it so. The sequence where the Torch kills Hitler was after a one-panel scene in Young Men #24 (in a story reprinted in the 90s in the first Golden Age of Marvel trade) that Thomas wrote he'd always wanted to introduce into the Marvel Universe. The original panel was presumably inspired by the historical burning of Hitler's body after his death.

In Giant-Size Avengers #1 where Roy Thomas reintroduced the All Winners Squad, he says that the Captain America and Bucky there was the 1950's versions from Captain America #153-156 and that the team never knew that they were replacements.

As I've stated before, the events of Avengers #4 just don't jibe with these retcons. When Cap's frozen body was found, the implication was that he was missing publicly since 1945 which wasn't the case retroactively. The Avengers were shocked by the discovery even though "Cap" was last seen nine years ago.

No one seemed curious of the fact that Cap said he took the plunge in 1945 yet kept having adventures until 1955. Heck in Strange Tales #114, "Cap" was advertised to show up at an auto show and no one was overly shocked by that. Yet in Avengers #4, Steve Rogers returns to New York City and it's like the Second Coming!

Having three different men assume the role of Cap made sense from the government's standpoint as well as being kept from the public. But Iron Man, Giant Man and Nick Fury had to know that there was something odd about Cap's revival as the dates and facts didn't add up! Meta-fictionally, of course! Back then they were "just" comics!

Richard Mantle said:

Union Jack and Spitfire are marginalised very quickly – even though they didn’t feature in the ‘All-Winners Squad’ that Thomas was so hung up on – it does surprise that Thomas introduced these two characters only to effectively leave them out of his writing afterwards, why did he utilise them if he really wanted Miss America and the Whizzer in the first place …they were available.

We know Roy was in love with the 40s heroes,which he apparently enjoyed as a young boy. I think Roy wanted to give the Timely heroes the exposure that the JSA had received at DC.

Giant-Size Avengers #1 went on sale in August 1974. It established the later refuted idea that the Whizzer and Miss America were the parents of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Giant-Size Invaders #1 went on sale in June 1975, preceding Invaders #1 by two months. Is it possible the Whizzer and Miss America were initially excluded from the Invaders because their involvement in the Invaders stories would be too complicating for Avengers writer Steve Englehart, who was using them in Avengers stories, including flashbacks, at the time?

Steve Englehart ignored the events of Giant Size Avengers #1 completely to the point of not having the Whizzer appear at either Quicksilver and Crystal's wedding or the Scarlet Witch and the Vision's. It wasn't until Englehart left The Avengers that the Whizzer would reappear in #153. He would show up semi-regularly until the Count Nefaria story.

I remember that comic. One of my mom's friend gave it to me sometime in the 80s.

Philip Portelli said:

Steve Englehart ignored the events of Giant Size Avengers #1 completely to the point of not having the Whizzer appear at either Quicksilver and Crystal's wedding or the Scarlet Witch and the Vision's. It wasn't until Englehart left The Avengers that the Whizzer would reappear in #153. He would show up semi-regularly until the Count Nefaria story.

I always loved the issue where Stan and the rest became the Fantastic Four. I never liked the Whizzer and Miss America not being Wanda and Peitro's parents, particularly since it made complete sense given Peitro's powers. Didn't like the way that Miss America was just consigned to die as a plot point. Then again given how they've written Pietro since it's probably better that he isn't the son of a hero.

There was a what if that dealt with the idea that Cap was never revived and that the Cap from the 1950's took over and ushered in a dictatorship, I also remember a storyline set in Cap's own book that showed the Patriot and Cap traveling to an alternate world where Adam 2 had succeeded. Then later on he died of cancer.

The original Invaders line-up reflected the fact that Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner were Golden Age Marvel's big three. It also likely reflected the covers from wartime issues of All-Winners Comics and All Select Comics that had images of Cap, the Torch and Namor, sometimes with Bucky and Toro, fighting Nazis or Japanese together.(1)

Thomas also initially put the Whizzer and Miss America into the Liberty Legion, which he hoped would get its own feature.(2) Union Jack and Spitfire were probably created to be British, as Philip suggested here.

(1) My recollection is there's a bit on the text page from Invaders Annual #1 where Thomas describes the covers of this kind that Alex Schomburg drew. The description I recall - the big three attacking a castle labelled 'Hitler's Berchtesgaden' or somesuch - corresponds to the cover of All Select Comics #1.

There were also covers with just two of the older heroes: All Select Comics ##6-9 have Cap, the Torch, Bucky and Toro, Daring Comics ##9-12 the Torch, Namor and Toro, and All-Winners Comics ##14-16 have Cap, Namor, and Bucky.

Images with the big three and other heroes were rarer: the first four issues of All-Winners Comics have them, but only on #3 are the heroes going into action together. (Incidentally, I notice Thomas chose not to use the Whizzer's original, caped costume.) Daring Mystery Comics #8 had a line-up cover without any of the big three. The All-Winners Squad stories were cover-featured but didn't appear until after the war, in the final two issues of All-Winners Comics.

Further covers with the Torch and Namor, sometimes with Toro, appeared on Marvel Mystery Comics and The Human Torch. Sometimes they met inside, of course, but not always. Marvel Mystery Comics #15 has a cover that could be an alternative cover for the team-up story in #17 (which the GCD tells me the Torch and Namor stories in #16 set-up).

(2) It's hard to see how he can have thought it might be viable, but to be fair, All-Star Squadron was arguably another go at the same concept: it was mostly set stateside and likewise had lesser-known Golden Age characters as primary cast members. But it also made extensive use of well-known characters, such as the JSAers and such villains as Brain Wave and Degaton.

I don't recall the details about it, but an early-80s CAPTAIN AMERICA Annual, written by Jim Shooter, sort of "teamed up" all the later-40s substitute Caps.

Whatever happened in it may have been surpassed/Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong!'d since, however, of course.

The dominant storyline about the later-40s Cap and Bucky seems to hold that there was only one "fake Bucky" for the whole through-1949 period, or maybe just one other, who served briefly.

I tend to disagree with that, and feel that Marvel should show a few other now-aged Buckys from that period -- even, bluntly, a lying "ex-Bucky" (or, perhaps "exaggerating/playing with the truth") who never was one. Throughout time, haven't ex-warriors, the further they get from their warrior days, expanded upon/exaggerated/flat out lied about their war accomplishments and positions?

Philip Portelli said:

In Giant-Size Avengers #1 where Roy Thomas reintroduced the All Winners Squad, he says that the Captain America and Bucky there was the 1950's versions from Captain America #153-156 and that the team never knew that they were replacements.

As I've stated before, the events of Avengers #4 just don't jibe with these retcons. When Cap's frozen body was found, the implication was that he was missing publicly since 1945 which wasn't the case retroactively. The Avengers were shocked by the discovery even though "Cap" was last seen nine years ago.

No one seemed curious of the fact that Cap said he took the plunge in 1945 yet kept having adventures until 1955. Heck in Strange Tales #114, "Cap" was advertised to show up at an auto show and no one was overly shocked by that. Yet in Avengers #4, Steve Rogers returns to New York City and it's like the Second Coming!

Having three different men assume the role of Cap made sense from the government's standpoint as well as being kept from the public. But Iron Man, Giant Man and Nick Fury had to know that there was something odd about Cap's revival as the dates and facts didn't add up! Meta-fictionally, of course! Back then they were "just" comics!

It was Captain America Annual #6 (N'82) that had all four Captain Americas in the same story. Jeff Mace (the PatriotCap III) is dying of cancer and makes a deal with the Contemplator AKA Mister Buda for another shot at glory; to be THE Captain America. The Four Caps were sent to a parallel Earth to battle the victorious Adam-II.

More importantly this story legitimized the passing down of the Cap identity as a government sanction.

After the war, would the government need to pretend that Cap was the original Cap? They -- or Cap II -- could 'fess up then without hurting the war effort. If that happened, if it became common knowledge that the Captain Americas of 1945 to 1955 were replacements by, say, 1964, then you wouldn't need to change a word of Avengers #4.

The government put the 1950's Cap in suspended animation, that was never widely known was it? I think only Toro of the original Invaders managed to make it through the 1940's-1950's ok.
Namor was mind wiped and walked around New York as a derelict, Torch was exposed to a chemical and died (the first time) in the 1950's, Bucky died (sort of) and Cap got put on ice in 1945.

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