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Invade! Avenge!

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Who is the man responsible for tomorrow’s Avengers/Invaders #1? Alex Ross? Joe Quesada? I’d guess, technically, you’d be right on both counts. But I’m thinking of someone else.

I’m thinking of Roy Thomas. If it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t be any Invaders for the Avengers to face off against.

Back in Avengers (1st Series) #71, written by Thomas, the Avengers were caught in a battle of cosmic gamesmanship between Kang and the Grandmaster. The Avengers were Kang’s pawns, and the Grandmaster sent three of them (Vision, Yellowjacket and Black Panther) back in time to face his chosen team. His team? Captain America, Sub Mariner, and the Golden Age Human Torch.

Those three weren’t called the Invaders, or even officially a team in the issue. Their appearance in the issue wasn’t some backdoor plot to rouse interest in a potential series for the characters. It was simply Thomas displaying his love for the Golden Age in one of his stories.

Roy Thomas is not only a pivotal creator of Marvel’s Silver Age, but one of the most knowledgeable sources on the Golden Age on the planet. He keeps that era alive today in the pages of Alter Ego magazine. So, while he didn’t intend the Golden Age heroes appearance in that issue to lead to a series of their own, deep down he might have wished Marvel had a Golden Age team to mirror DC’s Justice Society.

Which isn’t to say that Golden Age Marvel (then known as Timely) didn’t collect its heroes into a team. The All-Winners Squad only lasted for two issues in 1946 before they faded into obscurity. Well, obscure to some but probably not to Thomas, who employed almost the same line up nearly 30 years later when the Invaders finally got their own series.

By 1975, Thomas had left his editor-in-chief position and was looking for a writing job outside the everyday workings of the Marvel universe. He came up with the idea, inspired by the All-Winners Squad or not, of joining the Timely heroes of the war era together in a team. He pitched the idea to Stan Lee who agreed with the concept, and The Invaders was born.

The Invaders lasted for 41 issues from 1975 to 1979 and Thomas was joined on art first by Frank Robbins then Alan Kupperberg. The team originally consisted of Sub-Mariner, Captain America and his sidekick, Bucky, and Human Torch and his sidekick, Toro. The team later grew to include Union Jack (the U.K. version of Captain America), Spitfire, a British woman with the power of superspeed, and former All-Winners Squad members the Whizzer (a male, American superspeedster) and Miss America (a superstrong American woman with the power of flight). They faced off against such Axis related villains as the vampiric British Nazi sympathizer, Baron Blood, Nazi super soldiers Master Man and Warrior Woman, and the Axis’ Atlantean ally, U-Man.

While the Invaders have not enjoyed the stature or longevity of DC’s Justice Society, they have made their mark on comics. Marvel returned to the Invaders concept twice since the original series, once with Roy Thomas (1993’s four-issue Invaders miniseries) and once without (the rather unfortunate 2005 Chuck Austen and Allen Jacobsen version, which also spun off from the Avengers).

But the Invaders are in good hands this time around. Alex Ross, like Thomas, has an affinity for the Golden Age, if his work on Justice Society of America and Project: Superpowers is any indication. And his writing partnership with Jim Krueger led to the epic scope of Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X series for Marvel and Justice over at DC.

But unlike those two series, it appears that Avengers/Invaders will be set in continuity. And, one assumes, that if sales are good, we might be seeing more of the Invaders in the future. And if you are as big a Golden Age fan as I am, that is good news.     

Also out this week:

Action Comics Annual #11:

I know it was a long time ago, but do you remember the Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert run on Action Comics? Remember their “Last Son” arc? Remember that the arc was consistently late? Remember how DC announced that it was giving up on having finished in the monthly title and instead it would be shifted over to an annual? And remember how that Annual was solicited to come out three months ago? Well, guess what? It’s finally coming out this week!

This is simply ridiculous. I don’t know who is to blame for this delay (although rumor points to Kubert), but when the solution to the lateness of the storyline itself is three months late, well, that’s just silly. Being a superstar creator understandably comes with its share of perks, but one of them shouldn’t be lack of professionalism. Deadlines should apply to everyone.

Geoff Johns and Richard Donner (W), Adam Kubert (A), DC Comics, $4.99.   Annual.

Invincible Iron Man #1:

In case you didn’t know, a movie based on Iron Man was released last week. What am I saying! Everybody reading this has probably seen it five times by now. I plan to have seen it at least twice by the time this published. Marvel is hoping that non-fans will be so impressed with the flick that they come into comic shops looking for Iron Man comics.

This is one of Marvel’s efforts to help those potential new fans. This is a brand new ongoing Iron Man title, the idea being that a new series will be most accessible to new readers. It’s written by Matt Fraction, so at least it you know it will be good. Whether or not any new readers pick this one up is anybody’s guess.   

Matt Fraction (W), Salvador Larroca (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1:

And just so Marvel has all their bases covered, they’re starting TWO new Iron Man series this week. Because, you know, new readers might no want the investment of an ongoing series. Or might not be responsive to Fraction’s writing (perish the thought!). Or perhaps they might want a comic done by some one attached to the movie. If that is the case, then this series is for them.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau writes this Marvel Knight series, and is joined by recent Shellhead artist (and consultant on the film) Adi Granov. And it takes place in Las Vegas, a town Favreau has a cinematic tie to. And, to keep the everyday comic fan happy, there will be an appearance by Fin Fang Foom. How can you lose?

Jon Favreau (W), Adi Granov (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseris.

Tor #1:

Comic book history is rich with primitive/savage characters: Tarzan, Ka-Zar, Conan, Anthro, Kamandi, and Claw, just to name a few. Whether they live in the jungle or a mythological realm, the prehistoric past or post-apocalyptic future, something in these character types resonates with fans. But Tor is slight different than the rest.

First, he was created by comic legend Joe Kubert. Second, he was created during the 1950s, a relative dead area for comics, and one not known to be receptive to creating long-lasting new characters. And third, Tor has a philosophical bent to go with the brutal action, as the main character travels the world questioning his very existence. He is a lonely man travelling in a harsh world that he just doesn’t comprehend. Tor is just a little bit deeper than your average barbarian.

Joe Kubert (W/A), DC Comics, $2.99.  Six-Issue Minseries.

X-Factor: Quick and the Dead:

One of my favorite characters from Peter David’s first tenure on X-Factor has to be Quicksilver, and that all comes down to the way David wrote him. He is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, appearing in the Uncanny X-men and Avengers for 20 years before David even got his hands on him. But no one seemed to understand the character as well as Peter David did. Now the writer is handing a one-shot special featuring the character, a special that will have lasting implications on the X-Universe.

Quicksilver is in jail and depowered. He’s been low before, but never this low. Now is the time when he must confront all of his demons and his past mistakes. But does he have what it takes to make it through alive? Judging by the title, the answer might be no.

Peter David (W), Pablo Raimondi (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. One-Shot.

Scud, the Disposable Assassin #24:

How far would you go for the one you love? For Scud, he’s willing to go as far as attacking Heaven itself. That’s the only chance he’s got if he wants to bring his beloved Sussudio back to life. But even with Drywall, Mess, and Hank Gritt on his side, will he stand a chance against the angelic army? Scud makes his last stand, and it’s one he might not survive.

This is it folks, the end of the line. The story fourteen years in the making (four if you don’t count the 10 year hiatus between issue #20 & #21) is finally coming to an end. Could this really be the last Scud story? And if so, how will Scud’s fans react to this final chapter?

Rob Schrab (W), David Hartman (A), Image Comics, $3.50.  Final Issue.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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