Old Invaders Toro and the Human Torch partake in some long overdue catching up in “All-New Invaders” #14 by James Robinson and Steve Pugh, where Robinson ekes out a clever way light a fire under the Torch’s nearly forgotten former sidekick. Marvel’s “Inhumanity” event might have ended last year, but Robinson blows some of the still-lingering fallout over into his own title and uses it to rejuvenate not only a rarely used character, but one that has barely changed in seventy five years of existence.
It’s not yet fully clear what these exact changes are, as they are only demonstrated briefly, but Pugh and colorist Guru-eFX give the transformed Toro a significantly altered appearance that gives him a long overdue differentiation from the Human Torch, while also harkening back to the original look of the Torch in his earliest Golden Age stories. The character has been one that few writers have deemed worthy of usage in the Modern Age, and none have ever really tried to reinvent him beyond initially resurrecting the character several years ago. Robinson clearly sees potential, though, and his attempted refresh is welcome, as it plays nicely with the balance he struck with the title over its first year by combining the original concept of the team with modern tweaks while still paying homage to the era they originally come from.
Case in point: knowing that Nazis made great villains for the original team back in the 40s, Robinson finds a reason — albeit a little contrived here — to bring in some all-new Nazis for the All-New Invaders to bash. Pugh’s neo-Nazis straddle the fence between eras like many other elements in the title, sporting the typical skinhead look but with decidedly modern-looking and ornately-designed facial tattoos. Guru-eFX contrasts this group’s black and grey garb with the brightly colored interior backdrop of a church’s stained glassed windows, disturbingly detailed with Nazi symbols.
The artists deliver a strong set of pages when the punches start flying but, prior to the fisticuffs, Pugh and Guru-eFX aren’t really given all that much to illustrate. Robinson spends the early half of the issue focusing on the reunion between Toro and the Human Torch, and it’s a nicely dialogued sequence that establishes a new bond between the two. Pugh’s layouts pace the scene nicely, but there’s really nothing to see here, beyond two guys walking through a lab where not much else is happening, as Robinson’s words are the spotlight here.
“All-New Invaders” #14 is a nicely balanced story between past and present, action and reflection and a solid bridge between the time-spanning events of the last arc and another follow-up to “Inhumanity.”