The Invaders were a classic group of Marvel heroes from back in the day. I believe that a retcon turned some of their adventures into Earth II romps, but many fans remember them from back in the day. I also could be thinking of DC as retcons affected their old issues a lot more than Marvel’s. These issues helped people vent out their frustrations as the heroes took the Nazi’s down a few pegs and helped the US look quite good. It’s always a blast to see them winning battles and these retro comics never get old. There were more super threats here than I would have expected like the tricky Master Man.
There are quite a few issues are you would expect from such a large collection. For the most part, the issues are all stand alones and while there is certainly a continuity present, you don’t need to worry about it all that much. Some stories do go on for a little while though like Toro being shot, which pushed the Human Torch over the edge for a little while. The villains went too far that time and they certainly ended up regretting it. Another story arc, which actually lasted the longest involves Union Jack as he decided to come out of retirement to help the heroes.
His daughter was distraught about this as her father was quite old and would almost certainly perish in these battles. She wasn’t wrong as he was crippled very quickly and then she decided to fight with the heroes as Spitfire, after a blood transfusion from the Human Torch gave her the ability of super speed. Union Jack couldn’t fight anymore, but he gave his costume to his son who ended up inheriting it. Considering how old some of these comics are (Not as old as you would expect though as the issues actually came out in the 1970’s, but are made to feel like the 1940’s.) the story lines can be quite deep and intense. For the most part though, you’re just here to see the heroes beating the Nazi’s and you don’t need much of a plot beyond that right?
Another really fun pair of issues was when the mind controlled Invader’s had to fight the classic heroes like the Whizzer, Guardian, and a few others. It was like watching old heroes fight ancient ones and while the Invader’s had the massive advantage in skill, the old timers put up a good fight and showed that they can still fight. While the Whizzer and one of the other members were constantly bickering, they still had powers for the most part so they were useful in the fights. Team against team battles are always a blast.
The heroes are all fairly likable. The Human Torch is my second favorite hero and he nearly passed Captain America for me, but the drama with Spitfire hurt his case a little. He was actually active as a hero long before Captain America joined the crew so he has the most experience and he’s certainly not afraid of fighting with Namor. He relishes the challenge and Human Torch will do whatever’s necessary to protect the US. It’s cool to see him from these days as he finally became a major player in the modern FF comics from not too long ago.
Captain America is true to character and essentially identical to his modern incarnation except that he’s far more heroic. He doesn’t need to make any of the tough calls here as he just fights for what’s right and makes sure that everyone else is in line. At one point, Bucky is kidnapped so Captain America declares that if he has been harmed, he shall commit cold blooded murder for the first time! The characters like to make very grand and bold gestures like this one and it shows that they’re finally getting serious. The heroes are all tempted to destroy Hitler at one point, but they decide not too. It’s all about showing that they will stick to their morals through thick and thin. Despite Captain America’s words, he didn’t actually destroy everyone, but Bucky was safe. If he hadn’t been, you could tell that Captain America meant business. Did this all sound contradictory? Good.
Namor is an interesting case as he is technically the strongest member of the group and makes sure to mention this as much as possible. He fought off the other Invaders when things got personal as one of his underwater troops decided to join the Nazi’s. He’s typically useful even though he threatens the rest of the surface dwellers a lot and aims to defect once the war is over. His true allegience is to the sea after all and the other members are aware of this. That being said, his weakness to any form of humidity is a big one and it takes him out of action very quickly at times. I don’t mind him disliking the humans, but Namor can be a little annoying at times.
Spitfire joined the group in the second half of the collection and her talents certainly come in handy. I could have done without the drama between her, Human Torch, and Captain America, (To his credit, he is basically oblivious to the whole thing) but her super speed instantly makes Spitfire one of the strongest members of the team. Who knows, maybe you could make a case for her being the most powerful individual on the team. It was cool that she got to help keep the family name going since her father retired. I liked the original Union Jack a lot so I was worry to see him go. The british catchphrases were a lot of fun, but the new Destroyer fellow should do a good job of keeping up the mantle. I was worried that the original Union Jack would be jealous for a while, but it only took him an issue to get over this ordeal.
Bucky is sort of like Robin from these days. He was really vocal when talking about how cool Captain America is and he never let anyone insult him, which made for a few fights between him and Toro. Bucky definitely has the edge in hand to hand combat, although Toro would wreck him in an all out fight. Bucky means well and was likable for the most part, but he did look bad in the comic where he assembled some heroes to beat the brainwashed Invaders. (Unlike the JSA, who never helped the Nazi’s, the Invaders were forced too) Instead of telling the other heroes about his plan or just waiting the extra 5 minutes to discuss it with the government, he decided to fight the Guardian on National Television and act like the bad guy. There was no reason for this and he comes off as a little insane to the viewers. What if the heroes had decided that he wasn’t good enough to lead them or that it was some kind of joke?
Toro got quite a few plot twists about his backstory which gave him some development. The twists weren’t really needed I suppose, but why not right? It’s better than nothing and makes him a more relevant character when you think about it. He’s no Human Torch, but he helps out in the fight. His bond with the Torch is so strong that when he was shot, the Human Torch instantly incinerated the guy who shot him. That was probably the only death in the comics where we saw the hero do it with the intent to destroy the guy. It was certainly a deep moment even if the comic tried to quickly brush it off.
There are a few named villains scattered throughout the comics, but there were really just two who gave the heroes a run for their money. One was the Master Man, who was essentially a Nazi version of Captain America. His ideals are the opposite of the American hero and he certainly means business in a fight. He can fly and his super strength is greater than Captain America’s. I always found that ironic since everyone wants the super soldier serum even though it has been surpassed so many times. Master Man’s definitely not a likable character, but as a villain he is certainly a threat. He was shown to easily be able to defeat the Invaders and the heroes can never win against him without plot devices. Seriously, you could call the guy overpowered as he just makes the heroes look bad whenever they fought.
Making matters worse for the heroes was the debut of the Warrior Woman. She took her own Super Soldier serum and her abilities were about on par with Cap’s. This meant that she was still a little too tough for most of the Invader’s. Hitler was still obsessed with showing off his power though so he arranged for Warrior Woman to marry Master Man instead of joining in the fight. She didn’t like this, but didn’t do anything about it. That certainly helped make sure that she wouldn’t be a likable character either. At least there were now two villains for the Invaders to fight, even if it meant that they really should not have a ghost of a chance! It was interesting to have two super villains in the WW II days and this certainly spiced up the fight scenes. Namor became the only hero who could fight these two opponents on equal ground.
One of the issues was a lot of fun because the Invaders were warped to the future to fight the Avengers. The story had already happened in the Avengers title so this way we got to see it from the Invader’s point of view. That was definitely a neat experience and it helped to remind the readers that this is still relevant to the rest of the universe. To be honest, I was definitely rooting for the Invader’s this time and while it’s safe to say that they were losing, they put up a good fight. Dealing with foes like Vision and Black Panther can just be a little dicey. I can see Captain America beating the Black Panther, but he had his old shield and was likely tired from his adventure. Yellow Jacket would be doomed against anyone, but Vision’s the true threat. Either way, while it may have been a little out of place in the down to Earth WW II stories, it was a very fun issue.
The art is quite good as you would expect from a retro Marvel comic. All of the character designs are on point and the simplicity of the art allows you to read through the comics very quickly. The fights are also pretty engaging and are actually drawn at length rather than being rushed into a page or two. The colors are not quite vibrant as they’re purposefully pale, but they work in this context.
As always, the writing is one of the strengths of the issues. I particularly like the subtle USA vs Britain debates that the heroes have as Captain America uses his American jokes and Union Jack purposefully uses his Britain slang to get his point across. Cap asks him if he’s half American at times, which Jack always denies very quickly. They’re both proud of their countries and it makes for some nice team ups. I still wince a little when the UK characters call the heroes “Yanks” but I suppose that it was an acceptable nickname at the time. I dunno, it just feels unrefined and I prefer “chap” to be honest. (That used to be the British slang for pal or person anyway)
You can also tell that this is an older comic as all of the heroes bow their heads and pray in the final comic as the original Union Jack says to leave it in the hands of the one who will really decide his fate. You likely won’t see everyone praying like that in a modern comic. It’s really good to see and scenes like this show that despite their super powers, all heroes can still acknowledge God and his sovereignty. Definitely a great way to end the main issues.
Overall, This Invader’s collection was actually a lot of fun. I just eat this stuff up and I’ve always had a soft spot for the old comics. They were just pure popcorn entertainment that you could read at anytime. If only the modern comics would take a few pointers from these issues right? I actually didn’t know that there was a volume 2 for a while as I didn’t notice the large one on the cover, but hopefully the library gets that part soon. Either way, I definitely recommend checking this comic collection out. It may be around 500 pages, but maybe that’s a good thing since this way you get more value for your purchase! There is a lot of commentary from the writers throughout the issues as well, which is definitely a lot of fun! You won’t regret this read.