Sunday, July 26, 2015
The Invaders - Battle-Axis!
The 90's were a raucous time in comic books. After nearly passing into the mists of time alongside the pulps of the 30's and the paperbacks of the 50's, the lowly comic book was given a reprieve when suddenly they became very very "hot". On the back of wild speculation, comics became highly collectible and suddenly everyone wanted a taste. This led to some really woeful comics, but also to some real surprises. Chief among the latter was the 1993 revival of The Invaders by Roy Thomas, this this time with artist Dave Hoover.
To his credit Roy picks up The Invaders saga soon after it had been left, only a few weeks have passed in the comic though it had been nearly fifteen years in the real world. The Invaders are back in the United States on a mission when they find themselves suddenly fighting a bunch of very colorful super-villains working for the Nazis. The tragic part being that these villains seemed to be all Americans who had axes to grind with their homeland and so had turned traitor.
Not wanting to use vintage Timely Golden Age heroes as Nazi turncoats, Roy trawled the vast sea of public domain heroes and found quite a colorful cache of potential agents to serve as his "Battle-Axis".
Strongman is a vain playboy willing to sacrifice an already meager intellect for physical strength.
Doctor Nemesis (renamed "Doctor Death" for the Invaders stories) is the nominal leader of the team and who has connections to the Human Torch.
Volton is the electrical villain with a deadly secret which even he does not know.
Spider-Woman is a villainous wench with a hate on for the Soviets who she regards as a more deadly threat than even Hitler's hordes.
And finally Duke O'Dowd, The Human Meteor, bears a grudge against the British because of his Irish heritage.
The story itself is pretty simple. The Battle-Axis as they dubbed themselves are making for a location called the "Mojave Project" where it seems the Nazis have established a pretty elaborate subterranean base of operations. The idea is to attack the United States west coast with deadly gas and make it look like a natural disaster.
With the assistance of The Whizzer, Miss America along with new-to-the-series Golden Age heroes like Blazing Skull and Silver Scorpion and the mysterious Vision who is more enigmatic than helpful, the Invaders are able to repel the threat. But you knew that already. The Golem shows up too as well as the villainous Sky Shark.
The best thing about this four-parter is the seamless way it picks up the storytelling from the end of the original series. I've never before read it just after completing the original run and it is very impressive. The writing was very much in keeping with what had come before. The artwork by Dave Hoover is perfectly adequate, but despite his many skills, I've always been cold to his work which does show clear connections to classic talents, but given that we were in the 90's was also forced to showcase many of the hyperbolic deficiencies of that era.