Invaders Annual #1

Invaders Annual #1

There was a time when Roy Thomas could write scripts fully indulging his love of comics history, and I think comics were better for it. Here Thomas offers up a high concept for his World War 2-era super team book — an “anthology-style” annual, told in three parts, featuring the work of three different Golden Age comics artists, with a small bit of comics continuity patch-work thrown in for free. As a story told in threes, the tale required three bad guys, and Thomas gives us some real weirdos in The Hyena, Agent Axis, and the Shark. The Human Torch takes out the Hyena (guilty of blowing up army trucks, and bad fashion sense); Cap takes on Axis Agent, who is this weird amalgam of a German, Japanese, and Italian agent spliced together by a thunderbolt; and Sub-Mariner battles the Shark (of course), a goofball who wants to steal Subby’s underwear so that “… such water-proof and pressure-resisting materials” might be studied to equip an “… army of Nazi frogmen” (!)

Then it all wraps up with a fight between the Invaders and the Avengers, circa 1969, because of course and why not and because that dangling bit of continuity, originally written by Roy himself during his classic Avengers run, was catnip to Thomas. It’s an answer for questions no one ever asked but I love this stuff. The squirrelly Golden Age art bothered my eyes in 1977 but it is all just nostalgia now.

  • Script: Roy Thomas
  • Pencils: Frank Robbins
  • Inks: Frank Springer
  • Art: Alex Schomburg
  • Art: Don Rico
  • Pencils: Lee Elias

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published every now and then at!

Posted on April 9, 2018, in Marvel 1977 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Fun read! Keep ’em coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Robbins and Lee elias are great artists both but, judging from the cover, might not be so fond of the golden age parts.
    This comics being published in july 1977, should I understand you won’t be doing this in chronological order?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Call it “quasi-chronological.” I’m doing the issues as they are sorted on Marvel’s Unlimited digital service, “oldest first.” But because MU’s metadata generally stinks, I shouldn’t be surprised if the Annuals, especially, are listed out of order. (The first several weeks of this project are all Annuals).

      I also plan to jump the line with a few books when events warrant. For example, my review of Star Wars #1 will come out “early” for when the Solo movie is in theaters, and I’m also loading October with monster titles.

      So I guess … it will be kind of like the European reprint distribution you used to get, with the books arriving in all sorts of weird orders. It’s 1977 all over again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My 1977 makes me feel like a time traveller!
        On july, I got 2 mags: Strange #91 and Titans #9.
        Each mag would feature 4 Marvel series.

        STRANGE 91 (Monthly):

        The Eternals #2 (August 1976)
        Daredevil #93 (November 1972)
        Iron Man #89 (August 1976)
        The Amazing Spider-man #94 (March 1971)


      • Titans 9 (Bimonthly):

        The Champions #6 (june 1976)
        Doc Savage #6 (August 1973)
        Skull the Slayer #5 (May 1976)
        Marvel Presents #6 (August 1976)


        • That’s a pretty weird grab-bag of stories, Krackles. Outside of the Champions, I guess they are all kind of pulp-style. But still.

          Looks like you got original covers for each collection, at least.

          My favorite European localization of Marvel books has got to be Apeslayer — Killraven revised as Planet of the Apes. So strange.


          • Weird?… That’s insane twisted perversion!

            Thankfully, outside the mind boggling publishing lags between series, we had nothing so extreme. The original material was more or less respected but, way too often, heavily retouched because of censorship.

            We also had another publisher, Artima, that was printing a lot of US material on a black & white pocket form factor that required a lot of panels rearrangement and retouches.


            • Marvel published paperback-sized digests of color books with one or two panels per page back here in the States, too. I used to have quite a few of them — they were the best reprints you could get of Barry Windsor-Smith era Conan for awhile.

              There’s probably a (very dull) story to be told about all the different formats, markets, and branding of Marvel reprint material in the 1970s. I’d still read it.


              • Apeslayer?! – Now you’re talking Paul. I’m still waiting for a conclusion by Don McGregor and Craig Russell.
                Apparently the long gestating history of Marvel UK From Cents to Pence* is still in the works if you’re that interested – (*The currency, not the vice-president)
                Been busy, so belated congrats on rising from your Odinslumber (damn, I missed March Madness)


                • Your vote might have tipped the balance in that critical Fantastic Four/X-Men round!

                  (We are probably doing monsters in October).

                  Hadn’t heard of that book, the outline looks tasty. I love all that old newsstand distribution stuff. (I know, I know, I need a hobby).


  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Subby story exists just to explain why his swimsuit was black in the comics around this time in the 1940s? If so, THAT is serious dedication to continuity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think that is called out in this issue, but it sounds like exactly the kind of thing Roy Thomas would have done. Usually he’d footnote his continuity stunts on the letters page, listing the original Golden Age issues he used for inspiration, but in this particular annual, the only notes included with the digital edition is a text piece explaining how the collaboration with the original artists came together.

      But you are right — no way is something this goofy not have a connection to the Golden Age somewhere. I bet you’re right!


  4. I really enjoyed Roy Thomas’s work on The Invaders. Frank Robbins’s art, not so much. Like you, it hurt my eyes, though since I didn’t collect the Invaders back in the day (the run was ending just as I started getting serious about collecting comics, and for whatever reason when I did discover back issues at my LCS, it wasn’t a must have for me).

    By the way, if you enjoy Roy Thomas fully indulging his love of comics history(and history history) then you should check out the All-Star Squadron, if you haven’t already. It’s even better than the Invaders. And you’re right, comics are better for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aClockworkGeek

    The style back then was so gritty and filled with so much heart! There were some truly beautiful books in those days

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I like Roy Thomas’ work on The Invaders a lot… but this annual always leaves me a bit bemused. Thomas goes to soooooo much trouble just to explain why Namor was wearing a different pair of swim trunks when the Invaders made that appearance via time travel back in Avengers #71.

    Oh, well, I will always appreciate this annual, and Roy, for giving us some brand new artwork by Golden Age artists Alex Schomburg, Don Rico and Lee Elias.

    By the way, the Hyena and the Shark were both villains from actual 1940s comic book stories. And, yeah, they are sort of underwhelming. With the notable exception of the Red Skull, there really weren’t any cool bad guys in the old Timely / Marvel stories of the Golden Age. It’s no wonder that Lee & Kirby, when they were co-creating the Marvel Universe in the 1960s, retconned in such new villains as Zemo and Baron Strucker as supposedly old enemies of Captain America and Nick Fury from World War II, and why Thomas continued the practice, devising such Axis adversaries as Master Man, U-Man, Baron Blood and Warrior Woman.


    • Hey, Ben!

      I figured those were original Golden Age villians … Roy loved to research and write about comics history in Alter Ego, and it is only natural he mined that stuff for books like Invaders and All-Star. I also recall reading somewhere that Thomas didn’t want to create original characters only to surrender their rights to Marvel, which inspired him to dig deep and find old Golden Age characters which he could reintroduce. (Pretty sure the Vision came about this very way).

      Liked by 1 person

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