Invaders Annual, The #1: Review

Jul 1977
Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins

Story Name:

Okay, Axis—Here We Come!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Invaders Annual, The #1 Review by (March 2, 2011)
Review: Roy Thomas does a nice job recreating the feel of the Golden Age with the absurd villains and all. Too bad the promising story takes a turn into the ridiculous—Sub-Mariner’s super-trunks? Really?—and never recovers. Thomas also indulges his love for continuity in part V to present the other side of a brief incident from an old AVENGERS issue (#71) but when he goes to unnecessary lengths to give Cap back his triangular shield and change the look of Subby’s pants to match 1941 he goes a bit too far. Couldn't he just have had the 1941 Invaders involved?

Comments: The story takes place between issues #15 and 16 of THE INVADERS. Chapters II-IV are drawn by veteran artists who worked on the characters in the 1940s. Chapter V gives the events of AVENGERS #71 from the Invaders’ point of view. First appearance of Agent Axis. The Hyena first appeared in HUMAN TORCH COMICS #30 (1948) and the Shark in SUB-MARINER #23 (1947). Issue includes a text article by Roy Thomas explaining how the issue was created.

Invaders Annual, The #1 Review by (November 2, 2011)
The section of this tale involving the Avengers is a retelling of Av#71 from the Invaders' POV. But to do this Roy has to resolve some problems. At the time of the original story the Invaders hadn't been invented. The story said it was set in 1941, early in Cap's career when he still had his triangular shield. The Invaders series established that the team was formed in response to Pearl Harbor, long after Cap had switched to his round shield. Timely history and Marvel history might disagree about how often Cap had met the other 2 before the end of 1941, but both would concur that they weren't a team before then. Yet in Av#71 they acted like a team, and even had the battle cry that Roy has given to the Invaders. Now Roy wants to make the event an Invaders story, so it can't be 1941, and Cap can't still be using his old shield. So Roy invents the scheme to steal the round shield as an excuse to shoehorn the triangular one in. And he says that the story happens in 1942, but the Avengers assumed it was 1941 because of the triangular shield. A less obvious problem is that Sub-Mariner was wearing black trunks in Av#71 rather than the green ones seen in Invaders and his modern appearances. In Timely comics he did wear black ones. But now Roy claims that Timely comics got it wrong. However at this point Namor's green trunks get stolen and he has to make do with some ordinary black ones. At the time of Av#71 we didn't know that Vision's body used to be the WWII Torch, as revealed in Av#135. Vision's meeting with the Torch thus now has a special resonance. Cap and Namor don't remember this story, or anything about the Invaders, when they are revived in modern Marvel. This general problem is explained by faulty memories. Cap suffered memory loss due to his suspended animation in the ice before he was found in in Av#4. Sub-Mariner was wandering for years (or decades) with amnesia after events described in SM#1.

When Captain America, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner are told about the team-up of Agent Axis, Hyena and Shark they claim to have fought them individually before, but those stories have been kept secret until after the war. In the case of Shark and Hyena, I would think Roy Thomas had in mind the only Timely stories they appear in, in Sub-Mariner Comics #23 Summer 1947 and Human Torch #30 May 1948. He probably meant that these stories happened before this issue. However the Marvel Mystery Handbook has Torch's meeting with Hyena in its late position, and the Marvel Chronology Project has both Timely stories later than this issue. They presumably suggest that any prior meetings were unrecorded. But on the other hand the Sub-Mariner bibliography from one of the Official Handbook editions (and now online in Marvel Universe) moves the Shark tale in SMC#23 to before this Invaders Annual. Whatever the resolution of this dichotomy, Shark makes no more appearances in the Marvel universe. But Hyena will return to harass the revived Torch in Avengers West Coast #83. And that issue suggests that HT only fought Hyena twice in the past, this Annual followed by HT#30. Agent Axis is a whole different story. He was never a Timely character, and was an invention of modern Marvel, but not for this story. He was 1st mentioned as a character imitated by the Adaptoid in Tales of Suspense #82. Roy Thomas picked up on that and used him in this Annual. He will feature in Invaders #26-28, and crop up in Cap's memories in Captain America #162 and #253. He will be killed as an old man by Thin Man in Marvel Comics Presents #34, but resurrected again (sort of) in New Invaders #3 and #7.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invaders Annual, The #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
The Invaders race through the streets of war-torn London on their way to a meeting in a secret room at the top of Big Ben. There they meet their new military liaisons, Major Rawlings (Britain) and Colonel Farrow (USA). The officers outline the hero team’s new mission: three enemy spies/saboteurs whom the heroes have previously encountered singly—the Hyena, Agent Axis, and the Shark—have appeared on the East Coast of the United States and the Invaders are asked to capture them. Bucky and Toro are asked to remain in London to provide an Invaders presence for morale purposes, and the three adult heroes head off to their individual assignments….

Story #2

Chapter II: The Human Torch

Writer: Roy Thomas. Penciler: Alex Schomburg. Inker: Alex Schomburg. Colorist: Sam Kato.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The Human Torch flies to a military hospital in upstate New York where he interviews an injured soldier. Private Pierce relates how he and another soldier were driving a medical supply truck through the hills when they ran off the road to a fiery crash. The road had been rerouted by the laughing villain, the Hyena, who left Pierce alive to deliver the message to the authorities. The Torch announces his plans to get a good night’s sleep before tackling the mission. A spy in the hospital sends word to the Hyena who targets another supply truck. His forces ambush the truck by threatening to push boulders down into the road. To his surprise, the Torch is hiding in this one (it was a trick all along) and the hero melts the falling rocks. He defeats the gang and ppursues the fleeing Hyena into a barn—and lands in a tank of water, extinguishing his flames. He wakes up a prisoner, with the Hyena drawing a sample of his blood for Nazi scientists to try to duplicate his powers. With his real objective attained, the villain fires a shot at the helpless hero—but the Torch suddenly fades away before his eyes….

Story #3

Chapter III: Captain America

Writer: Roy Thomas. Penciler: Don Rico. Inker: Don Rico. Colorist: Sam Kato.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America meets his contact at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The strangely-acting FBI man tells Cap of the menace of Agent Axis, three enemy spies—one German, one Italian, one Japanese—who were fused into one man by a freak lightning bolt, which gave him triple the intelligence and strength of a normal human. This enemy is so creepy that even Hitler fears him and so the Fuehrer dispatched him to America, not caring whether he succeeds or fails. Cap’s contact collapses suddenly, and Agent Axis steps out, revealing the FBI man was under his control. The enemy spy is holding Cap’s original triangular shield (which he stole) and offers to trade it for the improved circular one. Cap refuses and the two men fight. Agent Axis flees to the Statue’s torch where he awaits an autogiro coming to pick him up. Cap hurls his shield at the villain and, to his horror, the shield is caught by a magnet and drawn to the aircraft. His objective achieved, Agent Axis escapes in the gyro. Cap vows to recover his property and suddenly finds himself fading away…then falling through limbo with the Human Torch….

Story #4

Chapter IV: Sub-Mariner

Writer: Roy Thomas. Penciler: Lee Elias. Inker: Lee Elias. Colorist: Sam Kato.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Namor, the Sub-Mariner, flies his flagship to find the British freighter, the enemy saboteur the Shark has vowed to destroy. Leaving his craft on autopilot he dives into the sea and boards the craft. As he ponders the mystery of why a top saboteur would target such an ordinary ship, he spots a torpedo racing toward the craft—one shaped like a giant shark. He heads out to intercept the weapon but as soon as he touches it he is electrocuted into unconsciousness. Namor awakens in chains aboard the Shark’s ship, where he learns the villain has stolen his swim trunks (and provided him with replacements resembling those in the comics). The entire plot was a scheme to gain the trunks which will be analyzed by Nazi scientists to learn their properties for improving Nazi underwater gear. Shark also reveals how Namor’s partners were lured into similar traps to gain Cap’s shield and the Torch’s blood. And now Namor has been dried out, weakening him for the kill. Subby goads a janitor into throwing a bucket of water at him; he regains his strength and beats up the Nazi agents. Before he can deal with the Shark, however, he fades into the air. The Sub-Mariner finds himself falling through limbo with Captain America and the Human Torch and they materialize in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1941. They face a trio of costumed figures they assume to be fascist super-heroes….

Story #5

Chapter V: Endgame, Part II

Writer: Roy Thomas. Writer: Sam Kato. Penciler: Frank Robbins. Inker: Frank Springer.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

…but the Invaders’ opponents are not Nazis, they are three members of the AvengersBlack Panther, Yellowjacket, and the Vision—who have been hurled back in time by the machinations of their archenemy Kang the Conqueror. The two trios of heroes fight to a draw until the Vision is able to pass through the Invaders’ bodies in semi-solid form, weakening them. With the Wartime heroes unable to fight, the Avengers take the time to explain how they are from the future, being used as pawns in a game between Kang and the Grandmaster, who is using the Invaders similarly without their knowledge. When Cap asks them to reveal his future, they decline…and are suddenly swept away by Kang for their next challenge. A squad of Nazis shows up to investigate so the heroes respond to this more familiar situation, with their fists. The Grandmaster draws them out of this time, and, as a reward for their performance, sets them back in their own year.

The three Axis spies are in Shark’s speedboat, heading for a rendezvous with a U-boat to take them to Germany when the three heroes suddenly descend on them and beat their enemies. Namor’s trunks and Cap’s shield are recovered and the vial of the Torch’s blood is lost overboard. Namor tows the sinking boat to shore while the Human Torch signals a US Navy destroyer to pursue the U-boat. As they stand on the shore, Cap ponders the news that there will be a team of superheroes called the Avengers in the future—and wonder if they would accept an old guy like Cap….

Frank Robbins
Frank Springer
Sam Kato
Alex Schomburg (Cover Penciler)
Alex Schomburg (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

(Thomas Raymond)

Plus: Agent Axis.

> Invaders Annual, The: Book info and issue index

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