I got this issue of INVADERS at the same time as the other two, from the drug store’s big bin of slightly-older comics. It’s got the best cover of the three for sure (though Tommy Lightning and Spitfire seem like giants in the background there.) And because I bought them both at the same time, there wasn’t any delay in reading the story–so I experienced this two-parter back-to-back.
This issue continued the two-issue stealth crossover with DC’s FREEDOM FIGHTERS, it also being about a team of super heroes from World War II (those published by the Quality Comics Group, in fact.) As the story opens, the assembled Invaders are back at base, and very unhappy about the tun of events that has seen them removed from King George’s security detail in favor of the newcomer British super-team, the Crusaders. This gives author Roy Thomas the opportunity to run down just who the Crusaders are one more time, for the benefit of anybody who missed issue #14.
It’s Spitfire who argues down her fellow Invaders on behalf of her countrymen, herself being British and so sympathetic to the Crusaders. In the end, begrudgingly, the Invaders concede that they should be given the opportunity to fulfill the assignment. Elsewhere, however, the Crusaders themselves are ambivalent, and we learn that while they’ve all been granted extraordinary powers in the form of technology, they don’t really understand how any of it works. Their reverie is interrupted by their handler and liaison with the Government: Alfie, the cab driver from last issue. Alfie’s not taking any guff from the Crusaders–he’s the one that gave them their powers, and he can remove them at the touch of a switch. What’s more, without those powers, the Crusaders, who had each been passed over for service due to some failing, would be unable to contribute to the war effort.
What’s more, Alfie produces pictures proving that the Invaders are Nazi collaborators. These are all based on panels from previous issues, including #3 where Namor ran wild, so that reference I got. Alfie leaves, to report back to the Admiralty–but in fact, he withdraws a secret radio and contacts his Nazi superiors, as he’s the double agent! But the diminutive Dyna-Mite has trailed Alfie, not satisfied with the older man’s story or the fact that his small stature doesn’t seem to be able to be switched off like the powers of the others. Unfortunately, Alfie clobbers him before taking off, but the mighty mite struggles to his feet and hitches a ride on a passing lorry to seek out help.
And the only place that he can find help is of course the manor of Lord Falsworth, patron of the Invaders. Struggling to its door, he downloads the Invaders on everything that he as learned, principally that King George must not christen that ship today. The Invaders make a beeline for the ceremony, where the Crusaders stand on guard–and of course, this being a Marvel comic, there isn’t any time to talk through the obvious misunderstanding. So, with both teams believing themselves to be in the right and fighting for King and country, the battle is joined.
It’s a typically fun and chaotic throwdown, with neither group getting the upper hand. As a fireball almost singes his hair, a defiant King George determines to do what he came here to do, and hurls the christening bottle of champagne at the ship. But Toro is able to snatch it out of the air and pass it to the Sub-Mariner, who hurls it far out to sea–where it explodes most violently. Seeing this, the Crusaders realize that they’ve been duped by Alfie, and were meant to die along with the King and his retinue.
With the Crusaders’ gear now suddenly non-functional, it’s up to the Invaders to bring the fleeing Alfie to heel, which they do. And there are no hard feelings with the Crusaders–after all, they just wanted to serve the Allied cause as well! Sadly, apart from the Spirit of ’76, this is the last we’d ever see of the Crusaders, which is a shame–I thought they were a fun bunch of characters, derivative or not. Anyway, returning to Falsworth manor to see if Dyna-Mite had both recovered and regained his full stature, the Invaders are surprised to learn that Lord Falsworth, Spitfire and Dyna-Mite had taken off, and left orders that the Invaders not come after them upon pain of death! What’s all this about? To Be Continued, that’s what!
The letters page this time out includes two communications of note. The first is from TOMB OF DRACULA writer Marv Wolfman, whom Roy has brought in as an expert on vampirism to support a plot point that was in dispute in previous issues of the series relating to Baron Blood and whether he would have been crippled by the cross on Union Jack’s uniform. (Marv’s analysis: not really.) It also includes a note from Murray Ward, who would go on to be one of the key researchers of the Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe several years hence.