Monday, September 19, 2016
For Marvel, "Invaders" has become something like "Manhunter" has for DC: a name they keep trying to do something with, with varying degrees of traction. For example, I think I was only peripherally aware of this title when it came out: from 2015, All-New Invaders #12, "Martians Attack!" Written by James Robinson, pencils by Barry Kitson and Marc Laming, inks by P. Craig Russell and Laming.
Traditionally, Invaders had been a World War II-set title, featuring Captain America and Bucky, the Sub-Mariner, and the original android Human Torch, among others. This version was the same batch of characters in the modern day, a "band of brothers" as Cap puts it. It was also very tied to the current continuity: The returned Toro now had an origin tied to the Inhumans. Cap was aged into an old man between issues #10 and #11, and was also for most of the issues I've seen, somewhat pissed at "Subby" for his Illuminati crap. For his part, Namor is played more sympathetically here than in other titles; having a good deal of comradery and affection for his teammates, and admitting a lot of his problems are self-inflicted. (Namor is certainly treated more sympathetically here than Robinson would on his next title, Squadron Supreme!)
Somewhat as he did at DC, Robinson plays a lot with legacy here; more than I've seen at Marvel recently. This particular issue features a World War I team, Freedom's Five: the original Union Jack leading the Orson Randall Iron Fist, Phantom Eagle, Crimson Cavalier, and Sir Steel. I think Cavalier and Steel were new: Steel may have been inspired (or derived) from the original Black Knight, while the Cavalier was a relation of Batroc. The Phantom Eagle is also played traditionally here, not the somewhat unsympathetic prat of Garth Ennis's version. While planning an assault on Ursula Frankenstein's castle, the Five are interrupted by a Martian invasion in London. Not the first one, either: some of the team recall hearing about such before, although it had been hushed up by the government. The Martians are defeated again, with the assistance of Eben Stafford and his mysterious "Men on the Wall." (Notably, the Men lose a man who is on a tripod when it disappears...)
Years later, Lord James Falsworth, the retired Union Jack, puts the tale to paper; which is read years later by his daughter Jacqueline, the Invader Spitfire, as they try to figure out why the Martians have appeared again. (Jacqueline is also somewhat distracted by her father's admission of suicidal thoughts.) Spitfire, along with the Mighty Destroyer and the current Union Jack, had fought another tripod that had disappeared; and now Bucky, the Winter Soldier, brings them someone who may have some answers: Jonathan Raven, better known as Killraven.
I completely slept on this title before, but after getting a few issues cheap it's got my interest. Still, there were only three issues left to come, and I'm not sure the Martian plotline was resolved there. Oh, and today's title is from an old song by a somewhat obscure band called Rise Robots Rise.