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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AVENGERS (v3)  #82 (07/04)
“Once An INVADER Part 1”


Writer – Chuck Austin Pencil Art – Scott Kolins

Also known as Avengers ~.#497


The title only appears on the cover.


The cover is glorious – by Jim Cheung beautiful versions of all the cover stars…but gives no indication at all of what goes on inside!

 

The Avengers, of whose title we are reading this time, only actually feature in 10 of the 22 pages of the issue – and I cannot find any connection between them and the storyline that really interests us in this threat – the New Invaders.

 

Anyway, the Avengers have a bit of a service for fallen comrade Jack of Hearts in their garden, he died in the last trade I think, along with some female civilian called Kelsey Leigh.


New female Captain Britain gets in a strop over the futility of it all which doesn’t remotely smokescreen the fact that clearly she’s really Kelsey…isn’t she…?


Captain America, Iron Man and Goliath have a chat over tea in the mansion while ….

Oh dear…here we go…..stand back…….ready…? …

Hawkeye and the wasp get amorous and kiss….yes…each other…!!

 

The main body of the storyline opens with the freeing of longtime middle-eastern prisoner Mark Todd by John Walker – who we know better a the US Agent (Although back to calling himself Captain America for some strange reason) and we quickly learn that Todd is effectively immortal …and quite mad as he reveals himself to be the Blazing Skull.
Introducing himself to the Blazing Skull as the successor of the Union Jack the Skull fought with in WWII Joey Chapman – the ‘new’ Union Jack arrives, with Spitfire as back-up.

 

Walker dons his Cap mask and announces the;’end of the Avengers’ due to the ‘re-formation of the INVADERS”

Pretty thin turnout for the death of Jack of Hearts eh?


New female Captain Britain - really??    Why what on earth was wrong with the original one…?

 

I present the Hawkeye and Wasp relationship tongue in cheek above because I am very aware that it caused some outrage in its day.!

Indeed it was because of this outrage that I avoided this storyline for nearly a decade despite my interest in the Invaders history here.

It’s a sideline to that Invaders story so I will try not to dwell on it but I can say that when I did force myself to read it I was …not appalled.


Both characters are shown as flawed and lost in their own history and misery reaching out to old but close friends and taking the opportunity to let go, accept a release and enjoy themselves and what they can get from what is left to them in this life.


I didn’t read this as anything other than a mutually accepted mistake, spur of the moment doomed to cause misery, fling.

In that way it is not a bad story plot point and had there have been longer to dwell on reactions to it and rebuilding from it there may not have been the ferocity to the criticism there has been.


I hated the idea, but I was okay with the execution.

 

US Agent/ Captain America announcing the reformation of the INVADERS at the end of this issue is a good beat in the story – but the line about this being the ‘End of the Avengers’ is utter rubbish and has no basis in the story at all – cliffhanger for the sake of it!.


Blazing Skull was around in the Invaders volume 2 four-issue mini-series that we did discuss above – but he was never written as completely unhinged like this – where did that character trait come from? – or is this the first anyone ever sees of it – due to his long incarceration perhaps?


Mad-cap gung-ho heroes are ten-a-penny these days, everyone comes over as ‘Deadpool-lite’ and it spills into ‘silliness’ too easily for me I’m afraid.
He’s clearly being set up as the ‘New Invaders’ loose cannon/comic relief but it feels forced.


Union Jack’s costume, is much more practical/military than the original look – and it’s so much better that he’s gone back to his ‘non-super’ look than his bulked-up last appearance.


Spitfire we see in one frame and BOY she’s changed, still young and vital but all spiky hair, sunglasses/visor and upturned collar – it’s a ‘bad-ass’ look that I’m not quite sure fitted Jacqueline…..


As above, no connection between the ‘New Invaders’ team members beginning to collect together and the Avengers story and so clearly this was just a springboard for the new Invaders title coming soon – maybe they should have just gone straight into that series though.?


Kolins art is unique and expressive and full of beautiful details, but some of his proportions are way out and too many of his men’s faces seem alike here. I much preferred his ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ series.


So, No Original Human Torch here, not even Namor, but Union Jack III and Spitfire and two Captain Americas…they’re trying to get the gang back together…


Come back…we're running out of Avengrs issues....!

Kang snubbed the Swordsman in Avengers #129, vol. 1, dated November 1974; Invaders #5 was dated March 1976. Roy, btw, was editor of that earlier Avengers story.


 
Richard Mantle said:

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…

From the admittedly few Golden Age comics I've read, outside of Batman, interesting and recurring super-villains were pretty rare.  The Red Skull may have been Captain America's only recurring super-villain in comics published in the 1940s and of his other baddies the only other one of significance I'm aware of is the Ringmaster, in one of the early Simon & Kirby issues, who was such a deadringer for the Ringmaster who first appeared in one of the very early Lee & Kirby issues of the Hulk that it was (much later) established that Cap's old foe was the father of the later Ringmaster who while a D-lister in the supervillain set has shown up in at least a dozen other Marvel titles and had perhaps his most humiliating defeat at the feathered fists of Howard the Duck.

As for the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner, I don't think either one of them had any recurring costumed super-villains in the 1940s.  Before Marvel Comics really got going circa 1963, seems to me very few super-heroes had an interesting rogues gallery, Batman and the Barry Allen Flash standing out among those that did.
 
Philip Portelli said:

See if you notice anything a bit....familiar about many of Roy's Nazi villains, Richard.

  I thought that the Ringmaster was always a throwback villain with un-used potential.  He once had She-Hulk easily defeated for a while and the Howard the Duck episode showed a very sad side of the life that he was leading.

Yeah, Gerber gave the Ringmaster more depth in that HTD tale than he'd ever previously received.  He was still a louse but I could almost feel some sympathy for him.
 
Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  I thought that the Ringmaster was always a throwback villain with un-used potential.  He once had She-Hulk easily defeated for a while and the Howard the Duck episode showed a very sad side of the life that he was leading.

Colan and Buscema did some excellent work on Subby, but Marie Severin's work on the series had a unique look that really fit the title.  Some of her best dramatic comics art; of course, she also did some great humorous art.
 
Captain Comics said:

Wow, Henry, I agree completely.

Henry R. Kujawa said:

To me, Sal Buscema was a major step DOWN from Marie Severin, who I feel was a better match for Namor than Gene Colan or John Buscema.

Oddly enough, I thought Ross Andru was a much better match with Namor than he ever was with Spider-Man... but unfortunately, he only drew 3 issues, each one finished by a different inker.

  There was a lot in that issue, from the female guest star to the whole circus being fleshed out.  One of the reasons I really loved that time in the HTD series.

Fred W. Hill said:

Yeah, Gerber gave the Ringmaster more depth in that HTD tale than he'd ever previously received.  He was still a louse but I could almost feel some sympathy for him.
 
Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  I thought that the Ringmaster was always a throwback villain with un-used potential.  He once had She-Hulk easily defeated for a while and the Howard the Duck episode showed a very sad side of the life that he was leading.

Fred W. Hill said:

.....the only other one of significance I'm aware of is the Ringmaster, in one of the early Simon & Kirby issues, who was such a deadringer for the Ringmaster who first appeared in one of the very early Lee & Kirby issues of the Hulk....

I never knew that the Ringmaster had a Golden Age version, and had forgotten he first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #3 (SEP62). I always thought of him as a Spider-Man rogue.

I think the further that you get from the original author and era that the characters were introduced in the less you have of the characters. It's like washing a bright colored shirt and having the colors fade over time.

Richard Mantle said:

AVENGERS (v3)  #82 (07/04)
“Once An INVADER Part 1”
Writer – Chuck Austin Pencil Art – Scott Kolins

Also known as Avengers ~.#497


The title only appears on the cover.
The cover is glorious – by Jim Cheung beautiful versions of all the cover stars…but gives no indication at all of what goes on inside!

 

The Avengers, of whose title we are reading this time, only actually feature in 10 of the 22 pages of the issue – and I cannot find any connection between them and the storyline that really interests us in this threat – the New Invaders.

 

Anyway, the Avengers have a bit of a service for fallen comrade Jack of Hearts in their garden, he died in the last trade I think, along with some female civilian called Kelsey Leigh.
New female Captain Britain gets in a strop over the futility of it all which doesn’t remotely smokescreen the fact that clearly she’s really Kelsey…isn’t she…?
Captain America, Iron Man and Goliath have a chat over tea in the mansion while ….

Oh dear…here we go…..stand back…….ready…? …

Hawkeye and the wasp get amorous and kiss….yes…each other…!!

 

The main body of the storyline opens with the freeing of longtime middle-eastern prisoner Mark Todd by John Walker – who we know better a the US Agent (Although back to calling himself Captain America for some strange reason) and we quickly learn that Todd is effectively immortal …and quite mad as he reveals himself to be the Blazing Skull.
Introducing himself to the Blazing Skull as the successor of the Union Jack the Skull fought with in WWII Joey Chapman – the ‘new’ Union Jack arrives, with Spitfire as back-up.

 

Walker dons his Cap mask and announces the;’end of the Avengers’ due to the ‘re-formation of the INVADERS”

Pretty thin turnout for the death of Jack of Hearts eh?
New female Captain Britain - really??    Why what on earth was wrong with the original one…?

 

I present the Hawkeye and Wasp relationship tongue in cheek above because I am very aware that it caused some outrage in its day.!

Indeed it was because of this outrage that I avoided this storyline for nearly a decade despite my interest in the Invaders history here.

It’s a sideline to that Invaders story so I will try not to dwell on it but I can say that when I did force myself to read it I was …not appalled.
Both characters are shown as flawed and lost in their own history and misery reaching out to old but close friends and taking the opportunity to let go, accept a release and enjoy themselves and what they can get from what is left to them in this life.
I didn’t read this as anything other than a mutually accepted mistake, spur of the moment doomed to cause misery, fling.

In that way it is not a bad story plot point and had there have been longer to dwell on reactions to it and rebuilding from it there may not have been the ferocity to the criticism there has been.
I hated the idea, but I was okay with the execution.

 

US Agent/ Captain America announcing the reformation of the INVADERS at the end of this issue is a good beat in the story – but the line about this being the ‘End of the Avengers’ is utter rubbish and has no basis in the story at all – cliffhanger for the sake of it!.
Blazing Skull was around in the Invaders volume 2 four-issue mini-series that we did discuss above – but he was never written as completely unhinged like this – where did that character trait come from? – or is this the first anyone ever sees of it – due to his long incarceration perhaps?
Mad-cap gung-ho heroes are ten-a-penny these days, everyone comes over as ‘Deadpool-lite’ and it spills into ‘silliness’ too easily for me I’m afraid.
He’s clearly being set up as the ‘New Invaders’ loose cannon/comic relief but it feels forced.
Union Jack’s costume, is much more practical/military than the original look – and it’s so much better that he’s gone back to his ‘non-super’ look than his bulked-up last appearance.
Spitfire we see in one frame and BOY she’s changed, still young and vital but all spiky hair, sunglasses/visor and upturned collar – it’s a ‘bad-ass’ look that I’m not quite sure fitted Jacqueline…..
As above, no connection between the ‘New Invaders’ team members beginning to collect together and the Avengers story and so clearly this was just a springboard for the new Invaders title coming soon – maybe they should have just gone straight into that series though.?
Kolins art is unique and expressive and full of beautiful details, but some of his proportions are way out and too many of his men’s faces seem alike here. I much preferred his ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ series.
So, No Original Human Torch here, not even Namor, but Union Jack III and Spitfire and two Captain Americas…they’re trying to get the gang back together…
Come back…we're running out of Avengrs issues....!

I like your solution, Captain.  And if the All Winners Squadron were only together briefly within the first year after the war that entirely knocks out the '50s Cap.  Of course, I suppose in modern continuity, the real Cap was on ice for 60 years. But then  that wouldn't jibe with middle-aged guys (as in guys still young enough to be working, rather than over 20 years into their retirement) remembering seeing Cap in action in the Big One in Avengers #4.  Roy would be totally flummoxed if he tried to fix comics continuity of the last 70 years!
 
Captain Comics said:

So what the Whizzer said doesn't agree with me, but it doesn't agree with Marvel's now-official continuity, either. So what he said no longer counts!

Philip Portelli said:

Except that Giant-Size Avengers #1 had the Whizzer say that he thought the Captain America he was in the All Winners Squad with was the original. There it was said to be Cap IV (the 50s Cap) but it was really Cap III (the Patriot).
 

In this story, Johnny is shown reading an old issue of Captain America, and talking about "Steve Rogers" changing into his Captain America costume -- in other words, in the Marvel Universe of this time anyone who read Captain America comics knew he was Steve Rogers!  I'm pretty sure Stan Lee very conveniently forgot that bit after he & Kirby brought the real Cap back.
 
Philip Portelli said:

Strange Tales #114 was cover-dated November 1963 and was also by Lee & Kirby (who had left the Human Torch feature by then, IIRC). I guess Jack wanted to revive Cap himself though Cap looks a little...off.

Anyway four months is a short time to judge readers' reactions for Cap's return. Especially for the purpose of including him in The Avengers whose #1 was out for September 1963.

More likely Stan and Jack wanted to re-familiarize  readers with the character with Johnny pondering what happened to Cap.

Shortly after he was revived, representatives of the Comics Code Authority visited Cap and informed him that if he killed anyone during battle he would be heavily fined and his appearances in the Avengers would be suspended and he would never again appear in a solo series.  Fortunately, after the elder Baran Zemo was killed during battle with Cap, his attorney, Stan Lee, convinced the CCA that the best punishment would be to charge Cap with reforming and training three young, brash former supervillains, two of whom regarded Cap as an overrated old fuddy duddy.  After Cap killed Baron Blood, it took a while but the CCA was really behind forcing Cap to give up his shield and uniform to the government.
 
Dave Elyea said:

This is something that has always puzzled me: while Golden Age Captain America didn't run around racking up a body count like the Punisher, he clearly had no "code against killing", even tho he and Bucky were more likely to be seen using machine guns to mow down a roomful of Nazis on the covers than in the actual stories.  Yet when he was revived in the Silver Age, he seemed to have a fairly strict code against killing in place as soon as he woke up.  Admittedly, back then, even the villains were less likely to use deadly force than any but the least violent heroes of today.  Was there ever a story that explained how or why this happened, especially since, thru the magic of suspended animation, he went directly from "super-soldier at war" mode to "super-hero in peacetime" mode without any period of transition to get used to a new way of doing things?

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