I picked up this new issue of INVADERS during the same weekly run to the local 7-11, so at this point, I was buying titles from both of the major companies indiscriminately. While I had made the leap to trying out and enjoying several Marvel books, this hadn’t led to me leaving my DC titles behind as it did for so many others–a common story on the playgrounds of my youth. I still liked them both.
After an issue off for an emergency reprint, we were back to the story of the Invaders’ battle with the newly-created Scarlet Scarab (himself a riff on the early 1960s Blue Beetle.) Artwork was provided as usual by the idiosyncratic Frank Robbins, truly an acquired taste. He was a great artist in the Milton Caniff school, but super heroes weren’t his forte, and so his characters in action often looked awkward, as though they were floating. But on Invaders, his odd style seemed to fit somehow. That said, he did one of the strangest versions of the Sub-Mariner ever put to paper, with huge pointed ears and the flattest of heads.
Events pick up from where the last issue left off: the Human Torch and Namor are in pitched combat with the Scarlet Scarab while, some miles away, their allies Captain America, Spitfire and Union Jack are at the front lines where the British are awaiting an attack by a vastly superior tank force. Cap tries to call in aid from the Torch and Namor, but they’ve got their hands too full to respond to him–so, tired of waiting for the inevitable end, Spitfire and Union Jack decide to mount a counter-offensive against the incoming Nazis, despite the fact that they’re completely overwhelmed and outgunned.
And wouldn’t you know it? The counter-attack works, as the Nazi forces pull back expecting that their British foes would only be rushing them if they had air support inbound. The battle over for the moment, Cap and his friends are astonished to see the Scarlet Scarab fly overhead on his way to the Nazi lines. They backtrack tot eh pyramid where they had left Namor and the Torch and find their fellow Invaders strewn in the rubble but still alive.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Scarab has reached the mobile headquarters of Rommel, and offered his services to the General. Rommel considers the non-Aryan Scarab inferior, but he’s not above using him to help his side take control of Egypt. Te Scarab agrees to lead their forces to victory in liberating his homeland–and so the battle is joined once again, with the Invaders appearing to confront their new flying foe. But the Scarab’ amulet allows him to equal the power thrown against him, so the Invaders don’t have the muscle to put him down.
In particular, the Sub-Mariner is faring badly as the heat the Scarab is radiating continues to dry him out, reducing his awesome strength. But he tells the Scarab that the Nazis are just using him, and te Scarab is conflicted. He decides to withdraw, taking Namor back to Rommel as a prisoner, until he can ascertain the truth. As fate and comic books would have it, at just that moment Rommel’s forces have come upon an elderly man and his daughter, and intend to shoot the old man when he complains that they’ve destroyed his home. Nazis–what’re you going to do, right? The Scarab isn’t having any of this, and he drops Namor and hurls himself into battle with the Nazis.
It’s a rout, as the Invaders and the Scarlet Scarab kick tail, making a hash of the Nazi war machine. But the Scarab isn’t the Invaders’ ally, as he makes clear–he fights only in the service of his country, Egypt, and he still wants the British out of his homeland. So the Invaders leave uneasily, knowing that they may have to face the Scarab’s power again in the future. Meanwhile, the issue wraps up by cutting away to the subplot, where Bucky has been racing to the United States to find the one surgeon who can save the wounded Toro’s life. Unfortunately, that surgeon, Sam Sabuki, is of Japanese descent, and so he was rounded up and sent off to a U.S. internment camp like so many others. With Toro’s life hanging in the balance, Bucky vows to find him and liberate him. To Be Continued!