Thursday, July 30, 2015
Eventually it seems every Invader has returned from the four-colored recesses of the past and has again taken up arms. This Invaders story labeled Invaders Now! was conceived by Alex Ross and writer Christos Gage.
With typically whopping great covers by Ross the interior artwork Caio Reis is somewhat less splendid but perfectly adequate. It's somewhat better than what I expect from new comics, but not much.
The story begins when a berserker attacks an emergency room in the Netherlands and before being killed by police spreads a contagion which turns others into similar monstrous creatures who have no conscious thought, but only the instinct to kill bonded with a limited capacity for pain. The Vision (Aarkus) gathers the former Invaders who immediately recognize the malady and to the shock of Joey Chapman who has taken on the role of Union Jack and is the only Invader who is not an original who fought during World War II, admit that the Invaders killed an entire town of over one hundred people in 1945.
We learn that Hitler's henchman Arnim Zola (still fully human though not for long) developed the deadly virus using magically enhanced minerals found only near a small town in the Netherlands and he had infected the entire population. The Invaders attack the Super-Axis (Master Man, Warrior Woman, U-Man, Baron Blood, and Iron Cross) who hold the town, but are unable to reverse the effects of the highly contagious disease. Only the Union Jack cannot follow through on the desperate plan the Invaders concoct which means the destruction of the town, its populace (save for a few survivors not completely mutated by the disease). They burn the town to the ground, euthanize the insane victims and drown the site under the released water from the destruction of a local dam.
When the reconstituted modern-day Invaders return to the site they find it drained and reassembling itself and inhabited by more mutated madmen eager to spread their contagion. The Invaders must first defeat the new Super-Axis (Warrior Woman, U-Man, a new Master Man and new Iron Cross plus two identical swastika-wearing twins I do not know but are called part of the "Master Race") and only then do they learn the new threat is the result of the magical schemes of a young survivor grown to bitter manhood who wishes to get his family back. With access to the minerals returned, Arnim Zola also has returned to the scene of his earlier crimes.
The Invaders volunteer to give up their own lives in exchange for twenty-four hours to save the people. The madman who created the new threat agrees and the team then access the scientists and magicians they can locate to create a cure. They succeed but remain willing to follow through on their bargain, but the magical force behind the threat reveals itself and they combine forces to battle Shuma-Gorath. (I have to admit it was the cover by Ross showcasing the awe-inspiring weirdness of Shuma-Gorath that pushed me over the edge to pick this up.)
The battle rages and they defeat Zola, the new Axis and the even Shuma-Gorath itself, but not without a deadly cost. As the story ends this new-old team of Invaders disbands to return to their new lives but pledge to fight together again should the need arise.
The story was perfectly entertaining though I didn't find myself swept up in it particularly. The moral dilemma about the nature of killing during wartime was touched on but not really developed, instead being replaced by melodramatic dialogue from the ghosts of those who had been killed. It all seemed a bit too pat given the extreme nature of the theme.
Loved seeing the Invaders battling the Super-Axis again, some of the most colorful and woeful baddies in all the Marvel canon. They are lethal and unapologetic and supremely worthy of a the punishment they receive. Not all the Invaders was given enough space to develop their character as much as I'd have liked in a five-issue series. We get a little from Toro and Bucky at the beginning and some from Spitfire and Union Jack, but the big three remain relatively untouched.