What a cruel mistress The Mighty World of Marvel could be. Much as I loved it, there were times when it could inflict horror unimaginable upon a reader.
One such occasion was when it decided to run reprints of Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos for what seemed like an eternity. I really did try to read those stories but must confess that after a while I simply gave up and habitually left that section of the comic unread. How I celebrated when they were dropped from the mag, to be replaced by some other strip or other.
The other nightmare was when the comic started running reprints of The Invaders.
At this point, I have to come clean. As a kid, I hated war comics - all that, "Achtung!" and, "Donner und blitzen!" Even as a young child, it all seemed horribly stereotyped and juvenile. The truth is that the main reason I read Marvel Comics in the first place was because they bore no resemblance to the war comics that British publishers routinely inflicted on us.
The only exception to this antipathy was Weird War Tales - but that was only because it was full of ghosts and great artwork.
Sadly, The Invaders possessed neither, being straightforward super-hero fare and drawn by Frank Robbins. I don't like to be harsh on Frank Robbins but if he wasn't drawing The Shadow, I couldn't cope with his weirdly distorted characters who fought in strange balletic poses, with proportions that suggested they 'd been through some sort of mangling machine.
Well, the first time they made their appearance was in Giant-Size Invaders #1. How will that comic fare, upon me re-reading it for the first time since the late 1970s?
After bashing up some Nazis, Captain America learns that one of the scientists who helped create him has been taken to hospital after a run-in with yet more Nazis. There, he discovers the Germans have created their own super soldier known as The Master Man who's out to attack a British battleship headed for America.
Cap, Bucky, the Human Torch and Toro head off to stop him - and discover the Sub-Mariner's already on the boat. Our heroes then proceed to hit the Axis Antagonist from all sides.
When The Master Man's finally dispatched, it turns out his target on the boat was Winston Churchill who tells them to stay teamed-up in order to thwart the Germans, at which point our heroes go all gung ho and tell the Nazis (who aren't there) that they're going to smash their faces in, or words to that effect.
It'd be nice to say my adult self was won over by all this in a way my youthful incarnation never was but I still didn't like it. Roy Thomas' script is full of caricatured Germans being beastly and having silly accents (I'm sorry, I should have said, "Haffink der silly accents, schweinhund!") and it has to be said The Invaders are strangely inept and ineffectual. The only reason they beat The Master Man is because he loses his powers at an inconvenient moment, otherwise they'd have failed completely in their mission and Britain would have been looking for a new Prime Minister.
On top of that is the same old complaint that Frank Robbins' art just isn't suited to super-heroes. He was suited to the 1940s - just not men in tights in the 1940s.
There's also the problem that Namor talks like he did way back in the Golden Age. Granted, this makes some sort of sense, bearing in mind that the story's set in that era but, for a reader used to the more haughty Silver and Bronze Age Sub-Mariner, it really is jarring to see him rattling on about, "Ratzis," and slanging it up big-time. You also have to feel sorry for him not having a youthful sidekick like the other two adult members do. Could Marvel not have let him abduct Aqualad or something?
So, there you have it. I remain unconvinced that I was ever wrong about the strip. Still, at least it's not Nick Fury and His Howling Commandos.
Now that really would be a terrible thing to be.
PS. You can never say this blog isn't educational. Apparently, the phrase, "OMG," was first used in a letter sent to Winston Churchill way back in 1917.
I have no info on whether his diary entry for June 6th 1944 read, "Just invaded France. lol."
Keep Those Things Away From Me - Novel
1 year ago