Monday, July 27, 2015

The Invaders - Eve Of Destruction!

Carlos Pacheco
Marvel Universe was one of the best ideas Roger Stern ever had. The book only lasted for a few story arcs, was to be an anthology of sorts which didn't focus on any one hero but rather used the whole splendid canvas of the Marvel timeline for source material. Roger Stern with outstanding artwork by Steve Epting and Al Williamson for the first three issues gives us a humdinger of an Invaders story.


What this story is really is one more installment of the secret history of Hydra, the secret organization which was sparked by Baron Wolfgang Strucker out of the ashes of the Nazi cause which he saw as doomed to failure. One of the greatest yarns ever spun at Marvel focused on Hydra's World War II roots and ran in the first four issues of the largely forgotten Captain Savage and the Leatherneck Raiders way back in 1968. This newer Stern story uses that nigh-forgotten classic as a launching point for getting the Invaders involved.


Also Stern reaches back to the Golden Age of comics, specifically those of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby when he plunders the third issue of Captain America Comics for the enormous and deadly Dragon submarine used by the Japanese. This mammoth undersea device serves well as the over-the-top spectacle a good superhero story requires.

John Byrne
The story begins with intros to our heroes the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Captain America. The sidekicks have been...ahem...kicked to the curb for this particular storyline.  We get some fairly clever reprises of the origins of these classic heroes as the U.S. government conducts some security checks and we find a man named Bob Frank acting as a liason.

Dave Gibbons - Alternate Cover
We learn that Baron Strucker sees the end coming for the Nazis and has taken measures to see that the dream of world conquest does not die with Hitler, seen by Strucker as an imperfect leader at best. To that end he's funded the secret organization called Hydra who are seeking one of the war's biggest secrets, the atomic bomb. He operates with knowledge of the future stolen when he observed and followed a mysterious man who turned out to be Doctor Doom, and made use of his time machine. This is a great little call back to a vintage Invaders story and answers some curious questions that story created in the Marvel timeline.

Paul Smith
The Invaders are called upon with the assistance of The Whizzer (Bob Frank of course) to keep the atomic secrets from falling into Strucker's vile mitts. They succeed, no secret, but the getting there is a whiz-bang frolic and highly enjoyable super heroic action romp.

Roger Stern is writing on all cylinders here, creating a story which balances the nostalgia with then-modern comic styling very effectively. Steve Epting is a fantastic artistic storyteller with a handsome classic style, and having a supreme pro like Al Williamson on the inks only adds a luster to the proceedings.

This is a damned fine Invaders story, one of the best I've ever read and highly recommended. For the record the next storyline in Marvel Universe was a four-part story about a group called the "Monster Hunters" and it was a ton of fun too, though not quite as stellar as the Invaders trilogy. Marvel Universe did not find sales success and ended after only seven issues, a pity and a shame.

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2 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this series, but you've won me over (as usual). Thank you for the review and for your enthusiasm for these books!

    Doug

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    Replies
    1. Glad to shine the light on one of the best series of the 90's which had a lot of low points. This is a highlight for sure.

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