Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Classics: Giant-Size Invaders #1

Comics fans owe writer and editor Roy Thomas a huge debt of thanks.

Through his efforts, the Golden Age heroes of two companies - Marvel and DC - were given new life.

His first success was with this issue, printed in 1975 - Giant-Size Invaders, which immediately led to a regular series (they dropped the "Giant-Size" out of the title).

The idea seems obvious in retrospect - building a team out of the top heroes from the 1940s - Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, Bucky and Toro.

Having them work together to take on the ultimate evil - the Axis powers in World War II - made for endless story possibilities, and other heroes and super-teams were added along the way.

Thomas managed to incorporate Timely's continuity with actual historic events - it made for an entertaining series.

The only problem for me at the time was the art. Frank Robbins is acknowledged now as an innovative cartoonist, but his work then didn't seem a good fit for super-hero action. His figures were a bit rubbery and awkward.

They tried to make his work seem more heroic by having Vince Colletta ink it (heavily), but it still didn't feel like Marvel's usual art.

But whatever his failings, Robbins was an excellent storyteller, and his style actually gave the stories a Golden Age feel - so eventually, it worked for me.

Thomas would eventually move over to DC and revive the All-Star Squadron, but this was his first major effort at giving new life to classic heroes - and it was a great success.

Most comics companies seem happy to leave their past buried while they focus on what's new and flashy - but for a while, they celebrated their roots and reminded fans of the reason why these characters were - and still are - classics.

Grade: B+



Glen Davis said...

I always liked the Invaders.

Anonymous said...

Now that I've seen a good amount of Timely Golden Age super-hero stories reprinted in various Marvel Masterworks, I believe that Frank Robbins did a brilliant job mixing the clunky and slapdash original 40's art with the more muscular and frenetic Marvel style of the 60's and 70's. Some of those old reprints don't hold up so well and are tough to get through, but Robbins' storytelling on The Invaders is always compelling...though some inkers do his pencils more justice than others do.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Glen, me too!

Sam, I came to appreciate Robbins' artwork more as the series progressed, but I remember when he first started drawing Captain America and then The Invaders I was not a big fan. Sometimes I'm slow on the uptake.

Dwayne said...

I loved Robbins' work at DC on Batman and the Shadow. I was unaware of his work on the Invaders. I shall investigate further and obtain a collected reprint of his Marvel work! I learn something new every day!