Another older issue of INVADERS that turned up in the drug store’s big in of slightly-older comics. I was able to find a few of these over the next couple of weeks as the bin would get restocked–and inevitably, most of them tended to be older the longer this went on, as though the supplier was digging down into a stack of returns from newest to oldest, which very well may have been exactly what was going on. In any event, it was a real treasure trove for somebody just starting out to read these titles.
Much the same as GIANT-SIZE X-MEN, INVADERS had been conceived as a quarterly Giant-Size title, so when the decision was made to phase out that format, the next story up had to be broken in half and expanded slightly into two regular issues. It’s a very Roy Thomas comic book, with references not only to Roy’s beloved WWII era but also the Ring of the Nibelung operas. Say what you will about Roy, he was always very direct and unashamed about the things he loved.
The Invaders are on the hunt for a Nazi operative called Brain Drain. Along the way in their search, they rescued an amnesiac young woman who possessed a strange ring. But then, Namor’s flagship was knocked out of the sky by a thrown axe and the Invaders found themselves in battle with three would-be Teutonic Gods: Donar, Loga and Froh.
Meanwhile, Captain America and the lady Hilda seek shelter in a nearby cave, unaware (in the tradition of countless Joe Kubert war covers–Roy even makes an editorial joke about it) that there is a battalion of enemy soldiers already in that position. Cap and Hilda are taken prisoner and marched into a secret base within the mountain, the lair of Brain Drain.
Cap takes a swing at Brain Drain, revealing that he’s a cyborg, literally a brain in a jar with eyes. Subduing Cap with his mental might, Brain Drain reveals his origin. he was on the site of a crashing spaceship, which devastated his body. The aliens put him back together as best they could. but Brain Drain seized the ring that was the power source of their ship and used it to brainwash the four aliens into believing that they were Teutonic Gods come to help the Axis cause. But Brunnhilde was stronger of will and she escaped with the ring, albeit with no knowledge of her true self.
But despite his makeshift cyborg form, Brain Drain has the hots for Brunnhilde–and now that she’s regained her memory, he intends to finish off both Captain America and her three alien companions, so that she will have no choice but to look upon him with favor. From afar, he drains their energy, and one by one they weaken while fighting the other Invaders. But before anybody can be killed, Brunnhilde strikes, grabbing the ring and throwing it into a vat of acid, destroying it.
What’s more, Brunnhilde has decided that there’s no place in this world for her or her brethren, so she summons them back and all four of them dive into the destroying liquid. Brain Drain follows, drawn by his desire for Brunnhilde. The Invaders make a hasty escape before the base explodes. Brain Drain would somehow survive this explosion, and eventually be put to much better use as an existential would-be hero in the pages of THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL a good forty years later. And I can’t say that I had any great love for this issue–there wasn’t anything in this story for me to hook in on. So I’m clearly a very different cat than Roy.