BHOC: INVADERS #14

I didn’t know when I pulled up this issue of INVADERS from the big box of slightly-older comic books at my local drug store that the new characters depicted on it, the Crusaders, were meant to be analogues for the Freedom Fighters, characters published in the 1940s by Quality Publications and eventually purchased by DC. I was also unaware that it was a part of an unofficial crossover with two issues of the FREEDOM FIGHTERS series, in which the Fighters were forced to contend with their own bunch of Crusaders, who were analogues for the Invaders. I just knew that I found the characters cool.

The issue opens with the Invaders returning to London after the previous issue’s adventure, and flying smack-dab into an air raid in progress! Rather than take any action, the super heroes watch as the R.A.F. shoots down a German bomber, but the bomber’s pilot is able to affect a safe crash landing on the outskirts of the city. The downed German airmen, fearful of the rumors they’ve heard about what had happened to their fellows who were captured on British shores, attack the first soldiers who approach their position.

But before Namor and the Torches can get involved, the firefight is broken up by the arrival of a trio of newcomers: the six-inch Dyna-Mite, the Spirit of ‘76 (who owed as much to the golden age hero the Fighting Yank as he did the Freedom Fighters’ Uncle Sam) and Ghost Girl. They tell the Invaders that they make up a portion of a super-team: the Crusaders.

Elsewhere, Captain America, Bucky and Spitfire are witnesses to another trio of costumed heroes who assist in putting out fires and rescuing civilians. This group includes the explosive Thunderfist, the electrical Tommy Lightning, and the airborne Captain Wings. And like their three fellows, these Crusaders take off as soon as the job is done, leaving the Invaders stunned in their wake.

The Invaders return to headquarters, where Lord Falsworth, formerly the hero Union Jack from World War One, is waiting for them. This was his daughter Spitfire’s first foray as a super hero, and she is formally inducted into the Invaders with the uttering of their battle cry, “Okay, Axis, here we come!” The Torch fills Lord Falsworth in on the Invaders’ encounter with the Crusaders, and something in the android’s description of Dyna-Mite strikes a chord in the old man–but he remains silent about it.

That afternoon, on their way to a mission guarding King George, the Invaders are diverted by an explosion below them, and a nearby cabbie who tells them that the bomber fled off into the nearby park. As the invaders give pursuit, elsewhere King George’s limousine is accosted by the would-be gunman–but his attack is foiled by the intervention of Dyna-Mite.

Figuring out that they’ve been duped, the Invaders race to the palace, where the triumphant Crusaders are already in place to shield King George. The Crusaders are hoping to take in the Invaders’ mission of functioning as the King’s Guard of Honor at the christening of a new battleship–and it seems that this is the way things are going to go, much to the delight of the cabbie from earlier, who laughs with sinister intent. (And nobody else could draw such a thing the way Frank Robbins did.) To Be Continued!

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