Monday, March 5, 2018

Longbox Junk - Invaders Now!

Let's take a look at the 5 issue mini that answers a question I never asked:  What if Marvel superheroes were combined with Cthulu?  But it's okay, because nobody ever asked for this review either.  Let's do this!

The Invaders confused me a bit.  I thought that they were an actual Golden Age team, but I was a bit surprised to find out that they were actually created in the 60's and retconned into the WWII era.  I wonder if this might be one of the earliest examples of this being done.

I'm also not sure why this mini was noted as a crossover between Dynamite and Marvel, maybe some licensing issues with some of the Golden Age characters?  From the little information I can find, it looks like Alex Ross had a lot to do with it as some sort of pet project to bring The Invaders back into the public eye.

I don't think he really succeeded because there was just this, another Avengers/Invader crossover mini and a (original WWII) Human Torch mini before The Invaders sort of vanished again.



Marvel/Dynamite (2010 - 2011)
SCRIPTS: Christos Gage & Alex Ross
PENCILS: Caio Reiss
COVERS: Alex Ross


This first issue was mostly a "Let's get the band back together" affair, with the Golden Age Vision bringing together the original members of the Invaders (plus the modern Union Jack) after becoming aware of a magical disturbance related to one of the team's more disastrous missions during WWII.

All in all, a nice introduction. The art is clean and sharp, but a bit dodgy in places, especially in faces (which all sort of look alike) and body proportions here and there.


This issue is mostly a flashback to WWII and a battle between the Invaders and Hitler's Uberkommando Super-Axis (Nazi Invaders) trying to stop Arnim Zola (who is "killed" during the battle on his last day as a human) from releasing a deadly plague on Europe.

Afterwards, the Invaders have to make the decision to stop the plague by completely wiping out a town of infected innocents. In the present, the reformed Invaders travel back to the destroyed town and are greeted by the ALSO reformed Super-Axis.

The story here was pretty good, even though this is the second straight issue of setup. The art remains hit and miss. . .generally good with some moments of being great, but also borderline bad in spots. I wish Alex Ross would have been on interiors instead of just providing script assistance and covers.  That alone probably would have elevated this series in a big way.


So now we're (mostly) out of exposition mode and the action heats up. Most of the issue is a battle between the Invaders and Super-Axis, but Union Jack and Spitfire break off and confront the heart of the matter as the destroyed village rebuilds itself.

In the church is a man who survived the destruction of the village in WWII who has summoned a  Cthulu-like space God (Shuma-Gorath) that has enabled him to draw the Invaders back so he can have his revenge.

Once the battle with Super-Axis is done with, Super Soldier (Steve Rogers during one of his "I'm not Captain America now" phases) makes a deal with the old man: Give the Invaders a chance to cure the plague and undo what was done long ago and they will sacrifice themselves willingly if they fail.

So. . .a pretty busy issue. The writer manages to keep things interesting, but the art drops the ball a bit, taking an obvious downward dip, especially in faces. What SHOULD be a couple of epic moments aren't nearly as good as they should be because of weird facial expressions.


Things get a little confusing in the lead-up to the final issue.

The old man summoning Cthulu . . .er. . .Shuma-Gorath gives the Invaders 24 hours to cure the plague Zola created back in WWII. They succeed by combining science and magical artifacts (along with some nice Marvel cameos) Yay! Day saved!

But THEN the old man has a vision of his family telling him he's doing the wrong thing and he decides to reverse the spell, only for Zola to step in with Super-Axis (now nice and refreshed after getting their asses handed to them by the Invaders shortly before) to kill the old man. DOUBLE PAGE SPLASH! Shuma-Gorath arrives on Earth!

This issue was 50/50 like/not like for me. There seemed to be quite a bit of ex machina going on, but the search for the cure was pretty interesting. The art was better than last issue, but the final double page scene of Shuma-Gorath bursting into our dimension looked sketchy and unfinished when it should have been awesome.  Where's Alex Ross when you need him?


First off. . .fantastic Alex Ross cover!
They were all good, but this one is the best of the bunch. Definitely poster-worthy.

And so we come to the big finish. . .The Invaders vs. Arnim Zola, the Super Axis Uberkommando, and MOTHER FU**ING CHTULHU! Er. . .Shuma-Gorath, that is.

As you might guess, the story is pretty much done with and this issue is a straight up fight from page 1 almost to the end. There's a quiet scene to finish things off, where the heroes agree that if anyone needs them, they'll always come back together no matter what else they have going on. But other than THAT. . .it's all punching, all the time.

The heroes eventually prevail against the extremely uneven odds, thanks to the timely ex machina assistance of an entire village of ghosts. Because. . .comic books, okay?

It was basically "Solve The Problem By Punching it", but it was still fun and brought the story to a close in a satisfying way.


This mini was enjoyable in a "Read it and forget it" sort of way.

I liked that it was set in a sort of strange time for Captain America, where Steve Rogers was Super Soldier and Bucky Barnes was Captain America.  I think (from the few bits of info that I've found) that this was one of Steve Rogers' first post-return from "death" appearances in the Captain America uniform.

But that aside, this was a very quick read with a decent story (even if it mostly served as an excuse to get the Invaders back together).  The art swerved back and forth unpredictably between very good, almost great, to pretty bad. . .but generally was pretty good.

Overall, I found this mini to be good. . .not great, and not particularly memorable, but good. The writing was decent and the art was here and there, but also decent. It was all just good Silver Age-Style throwback comic book fun. What more could you ask for?

Up next. . .

It's another one of those mini's that's actually a collection of one shots.
Dynamite's 4 issue Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Be there or be square!

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