The fighting men and women of the Marvel Universe had an especially tough time during World War II due to the existence of things like super powers, super science and magic, leading to an Axis powers that utilized “super” operatives to commit acts of violence and sabotage. However, in a twist of fate, it was one of those acts that led to the formation of a group that would be instrumental in the Axis’ downfall when the Nazi super soldier known as Master Man tried to kill British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The attempt was foiled by an all star team of superheroes: Captain America, his sidekick Bucky, the original android Human Torch, his sidekick Toro and the Atlantean prince Namor the Sub Mariner. After they saved his life, Churchill suggested that the heroes continue to work together to battle the Nazi’s and their allies. In response, they formed a team called the Invaders, later seeing their ranks grow with the addition of British heroes like Union Jack and Spitfire.
After the war, the Invaders disbanded and tragedy struck many of their former members. Captain America and Bucky disappeared and were believed dead. The Sub-Mariner was struck by “amnesia” and disappeared. Toro later perished as well. Several years ago, the original android Human Torch joined with a new Union Jack and four other heroes to form a new incarnation of the Invaders, but they disbanded after the Torch sacrificed himself to stop a Neo-Nazi menace.
As a team and as individuals the Invaders have endured a number of tragedies but they’ve also experienced numerous “miracles” as well. The Sub-Mariner was cured of his amnesia and became a hero once more in the modern world. Captain America and Bucky were found to be still alive. An aged Spitfire regained both her youth and powers thanks to a blood transfusion from the android Human Torch. All of these events were paving the way for the original Invaders to reunite, and in 2008, Alex Ross and his collaborators kicked off the 12 issue “Avengers/Invaders” miniseries , co-produced by Dynamite Entertaonment, which brought the original team to the present day. In the 2009 miniseries “The Torch,” Ross and his collaborators resurrected the original android Human Torch and Toro. On September 9, Ross, co-writer Christos Gage and artist Caio Reiss kick off the five issue “Invaders Now!” miniseries. CBR News spoke with Gage about the project, which is set in the current Heroic Age of the Marvel Universe and reunites the original Invaders with the newest Union Jack.
CBR News: Christos, the line up for “Invaders Now” includes: Steve Rogers in his super soldier identity, the new Captain America AKA Bucky Barnes, the original Human Torch, Toro, Spitfire and the current Union Jack. You’ve written some of these characters before, and some of them you’re writing for the first time. All of them seem to be in your wheel house as a writer, though. How does it feel to be offered a chance to work with these characters?
Christos Gage: I love it. One of the first comics I ever bought was “Invaders” #5, so they’re near and dear to my heart. And of course the history that surrounds these characters is amazing, both in real life – their publishing history – as well as within the Marvel Universe. I mean, the Human Torch killed Hitler! How cool is that? Just from a story standpoint, there’s so much you can do with the Invaders. It’s also a treat to return to Union Jack, who starred in a miniseries I did with Mike Perkins that was my first long-form Marvel work. Of course, it’s a huge pleasure to collaborate with Alex Ross, whose abiding love for the characters is evident. He’s been building up to bringing the original Invaders back together in the present day, and it’s wonderful to be invited to be a part of that.
Lets talk about some of the team members. It’s interesting to me that Namor and Spitfire are the only original Invaders who have not “died” and come back. How do they feel about that? Are they simply delighted their comrades continue to return or are they sort of uncomfortable and suspicious of all these “resurrections?”
Well, in a sense they both experienced “resurrections” as well, since Spitfire was made decades younger (physically) and Namor spent many years with amnesia before finally regaining his memory. I think they’re all just glad to have their friends back. But it’s interesting you mention the resurrections, because they figure heavily into our story…though I can’t reveal how.
Will this series be the first time Bucky and Toro encounter each other after their apparent deaths and rebirths?
Yes, we do get to see them catching up in issue #1. I enjoyed writing that scene. These two have a lot in common. Like war veterans, they share experiences not many others can.
Steve Rogers has a plan for how super teams will work in the current Heroic Age – does the reemergence of the Invaders fit into his blueprint?
Well, some of them are involved with other teams already. Namor with the X-Men, Bucky Cap and Steve with the Avengers, Spitfire with MI-13. But in this case, a threat arises that demands the Invaders themselves and there’s no one Steve trusts more. As for whether it’s a long-term thing, that’s up to the readers – sales speak loudest!
Now that “The Torch” miniseries is over, how does the original Human Torch feel about being back among the land of the living? How did that series affect him on a personal level?
It restored his personality but left him wondering about where he belongs in the Marvel Universe. We’ll see him discussing this very topic with Namor in issue #1.
In “Invaders Now!,” the current Union jack will be operating alongside some of the most veteran and accomplished heroes of the Marvel Universe, whose ranks include his ex girlfriend, Spitfire. Is he feeling a little out of his element or is he more inspired than ever to be part of this new group of Invaders?
Both. And the fact that he is the only non-original member definitely figures into the story.
When this series begins, have the Invaders already joined together or are the initial issues about the group getting back together? And how would you describe the initial dynamic of the Invaders in this series?
They’re together by the end of issue #1. I wanted to use the first issue to sort of “put the band back together” because I thought it was important to see where the characters are individually. So we see them together in pairs, what they’re doing, how they feel about their current situation. But this isn’t one of those books where the team doesn’t come together until the end. They’re fighting as a unit as of issue #2.
The solicits for issue #2 were recently revealed, and they mention a horrible deed the Invaders committed in the past -will we see that actual event?
Yes, we will. While the story takes place in the present day, issue #2 features a flashback to World War II as we witness what may well be the darkest day in Invaders history…an event that threatens the entire world seven decades later. I don’t want to reveal any more, but I’ll say that this was not a situation where the Invaders were mind controlled or anything like that. It was a circumstance in which there was no good choice to make and they had to do something that still haunts them today. Something they may now have to pay for.
What can you tell us about the obstacles and adversaries and the other supporting players in this series? How big are the threats the Invaders are facing in this series, and will they be able to call on any outside help?
They’ll be facing some of the classic Invaders villains fans will remember – Master Man, Warrior Woman, a new, Alex-Ross designed Iron Cross and their nefarious ilk. Also, Arnim Zola, as we will reveal for the very first time the circumstances which made him move his consciousness into his artificial body during the war years. There is yet another big bad on the horizon – one who operates on a huge power level – but I’ll keep their identity under wraps for now.
As for calling on outside help, that seems natural, given the Invaders’ ties to other teams, but we’ll see why it’s ultimately not feasible…though several brief guest appearances will occur.
What made Caio Reiss the right artist to enlist for this project?
He came to us through Nick Barrucci and Joe Rybandt at Dynamite. Caio has a nice dynamic style we thought fit the series well. A mix of classic superhero action and modern flair. I think readers will really enjoy it.
Finally, it sounds like we’ll get some big action moments worthy of your cast but, but will we also see any big emotional and intimate moments as well?
Yes on both counts. There will be some very personal, emotional moments, but also action on a grand, epic scale. To me, the big flashy stuff only works if the reader is invested in the story and I hope we’ll accomplish that.
This project is a dream come true for me in many ways. I remember being at an Avengers retreat and seeing an Invaders miniseries slotted into the schedule for later in the year. I was jealous of whoever was going to write it…little did I know! The “oh, wow” moments for me are constant on this book, whether it’s Alex Ross asking my opinion on covers (to which I always want to reply, “You do know you’re Alex Ross, right?” But I’m much too cool to do that…) or the amazing lineup of artistic legends editor Bill Rosemann has lined up to do variant covers – Sal Buscema for issue one and John Romita for #2, just to start! Do you know how mind blowing it is to have John freakin’ Romita doing a cover for one of my books? I definitely feel like I have a lot to live up to with this series and I hope I can deliver. If any readers are on the fence about picking this up, I’d urge them to give it a try. Everyone involved is putting a lot of love into this book.