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Freedom Fighters Pt. 12: The Invaders #14

First of all, who are the Invaders? In general, Marvel Comics claims they are “the greatest superheroes of World War Two!” Specifically:

Captain America & Bucky! The Sub-Mariner! The Original Human Torch & Toro! During the darkest hours of World War Two, these five heroes have banded together as The Invaders - to battle the Axis Powers to the death, in the name of freedom!

More importantly, why in the world am I writing about them on a blog devoted to DC Comics?!?

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If you recall, the last two issues of DC's Freedom Fighters featured a rival team of superheroes called, “The Crusaders.” Well, issues 14 and 15 of Marvel's The Invaders, hitting the newsstand about the same time as Freedom Fighters #8 and #9, also featured a rival team of superheroes called… “The Crusaders.” What's going on here… would you believe an unofficial crossover between the two competing publishers?

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In an interview with CBR (Comic Book Resources), Freedom Fighters writer, Bob Rozakis stated:

As I recall it, I had come up with the idea of using the Crusaders in Freedom Fighters and joked with then-editor Tony Isabella that it would be really funny if Roy Thomas used a version of the FFers in Invaders and called them the Crusaders as well. I believe it was actually Tony who spoke with Roy and suggested the unofficial crossover… but neither Roy nor I got to see these alternate-reality versions of our teams until the books were published.

This week, we’ll look at DC’s version of The Crusaders (aka The Invaders) and next week, we’ll look at Marvel’s version of The Crusaders (aka Freedom Fighters.)

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The names of DC’s Crusaders were taken from actual Golden Age superheroes, albeit ones that were obscure. Roll call:

  • Americommando (counterpart of Captain America)

  • Rusty (counterpart of Bucky)

  • Barracuda (counterpart of Namor, the Sub-Mariner)

  • Fireball (counterpart of Human Torch)

  • Sparky (counterpart of Toro)

Here’s where it gets really fun. In Freedom Fighters #9, we learned that The Crusaders were born when the Silver Ghost, masquerading as Americommando, somehow transformed four comic book fans at a convention into superheroes. Their civilian names were based on Marvel creators:

  • Marvin (named after Marv Wolfman)

  • Lennie (named after Len Wein)

  • Arch (named after Archie Goodwin)

  • Roy (named after Roy Thomas)

While we’re here, we may as well take a look at The Invaders #14…

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...as they find themselves in the midst of the tail-end of a heated dogfight: British Spitfires against Nazi Junkers with their cargo of death--!

After crash landing, the battle continues on the ground when suddenly…

Amid all the punches, the team members introduce themselves as:

  • Dyna-mite (“only a dozen centimeters or so -- but strong as a full-grown man”)

  • Ghost Girl (“I possess the power to refract light -- mike it bend around my body so I can seem to be a full metre away from where I truly am”)

  • Spirit of ‘76; or, “Six” for short (“I don’t need anything but my good American fists!”)

These three depart, but then…

  • Thunder-Fist is a massively-built titan who wears a glove that causes thunderous impact.

  • Electricity flows through Tommy Lightnin’s power-charged body.

  • Captain Wings glides through the air.

When Captain America begins to ask questions, these three Crusaders depart as quickly as the first three.

Racing to prevent a bomb from exploding at Buckingham Palace, the Invaders learn they aren’t needed…

A taxi driver laughs maniacally as he hears a report on the radio…

...his majesty’s guard of honor at tomorrow’s dedication of the battleship Horn-Blower will not be the originally-scheduled American heroes… but an equally powerful new group of British stalwarts… the Crusaders!

Something seems suspicious to me! Come back next week to see if I’m right.

Title: The Invaders

Issue #: 14

Cover Date: March. 1977

On Sale Date: Nov. 30, 1976

Writer: Roy Thomas

Penciller: Frank Robbins

Inker: Jack Springer

Editor: Roy Thomas


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