Another source of comics to me during this period were the 3-Bags sold in chain department stores, supermarkets and toy stores in this era. For those who don’t remember, each clear plastic bag would contain three recent comic books–my studies indicate that they tended to be around nine months old when released–for a single price. The trick was always to be able to stretch the bag enough to see what the book in the center was–and the more unscrupulous would sometimes tear open a bag and just purchase the one book you wanted. (I’ll admit that I’m sure I did this a time or two.) But in a time before I had access to comic book shops, this was one of the few ways I’d be able to find back issues.
Much as with the books I traded for over the years with my buddy Don Sims, it’s impossible after all of these years to determine the contents of each specific 3-Bag I bought, to say nothing of the precise order in which I bought them. While new bags would tend to show up every month, any older bags that went unsold tended to hang around as well–these books were not returnable like newsstand copies (though some savvy outlets cracked the bags open and returned them through Newsstand distribution channels anyway, a problem that led to these books getting the diamond arrangement on their covers where the price went and a disallow line printed through their UPCs. I remember there being a lot of discussion among my small group of comic book readers as to whether these were reprints or counted as new issues. This was of paramount importance to us, because reprints were never going to be worth anything, and so weren’t valuable trading stock.
I know that I got this issue of INVADERS in a 3-Bag, and based on what other books I know that I had which also came out the same month and which I also got from 3-Bags, I’ve at least put together my best guess as to what that bag held. My interest in Marvel at this stage still revolved around the Human Torch, and so issue of INVADERS were prized by me–finding this one would have motivated me to take the plunge on the two other titles, especially since I was starting to expand my Marvel horizons anyway. It’s the second half of a two-part story, and it opens up wit the Invaders having been captured by the disfigured Nazi mastermind called the Face, though he was more often referred to as Half-Face in this story.
Spitfire relates to us in flashback that the Invaders had gone to the Warsaw Ghetto to find the brother of a key scientist that the Allies needed working on weapons for them, and who would not comply unless his brother was rescued. But the brother refused to leave his fellow imprisoned Jews, and the Invaders were forced to surrender when the Nazis threatened to kill the civilians in the Ghetto. Now, Half-Face intends to bring them back to Berlin as captives, were Hitler will parade them through the streets before executing them. Try as they might, the Invaders don’t seem to be able to escape.
Meanwhile, the scientist’s brother, a pacifist, anguished that his inaction caused the Invaders to be captured and marked for death, uses a combination of science and mysticism to create a Golem, a protective figure of Jewish mythology. The Golem comes to life, bursting from the Ghetto to attack the occupying Nazis. After showing his power, he turns in the direction of where the Invaders are being held, clearly on a rescue mission.
The Golem smashes his way into Half-Face’s stronghold and makes a beeline for the retreating Nazi commander. Nothing the Nazis do is able to slow its inexorable progress–and eventually it makes its way into the dungeon in which the Invaders are held. Almost off-handedly, the Golem frees Spitfire, who goes about liberating her fellow Invaders while the Golem returns to his mission of vengeance, saying not a word.
From here, it’s a rout, with each Invader getting a moment to show off their prowess before the Golem catches up to Half-Face, back-handing him into a towering shaft to his death. In the aftermath, the Golem accidentally rubs away the letter E from the word Emeth written upon his forehead, changing it from meaning Truth to meaning Death. And so, the Golem returns to the human form of Jacob Goldstein, the scientist’s brother. But e still refuses to accompany the Invaders back home to London. He insists that he must stay, because when the day comes that his people rise up against the Nazi regime, the Golem’s power may be needed again. And so the Invaders are forced to return home empty-handed.