Over the past few years I’ve become a big fan of Captain America, thanks to Ed Brubaker’s epic run with the character. That series not only made me a fan of Steve Rogers but Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier. While I am now a fan of those two characters I still have found it hard to go back to read the original Invaders comics, likely because I read them too late into my comic book reading life. I have also never been a big fan of Namor’s character outside of a few appearances he has had in Fantastic Four. So I don’t have a strong connection to the Invaders outside of Captain America and Winter Soldier. Still, I am willing to give the new Invaders comic a shot because it is being written by Chip Zdarsky, who had a very good runs on Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Two-And-One. Given his recent I have high expectations for what Zdarsky can do with the Invaders. Now let’s find out how things begin with Invaders #1.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno and Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Guimaraes
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Some time ago Namor helps soldiers in the middle of a battlefield. Due to being out of water for so long Namor’s powers begin to weaken and he ends up falling when trying to fly to save a soldier from the enemy. An explosion sends Namor flying and kills several soldiers.
Eventually Captain America and Bucky Barnes find Namor, who is very weak, after winning the latest battle.
In the present Namor is woken up by one of his servants, Machan, who heard him screaming as he was dreaming. Namor says he was just dreaming of the World War because he fears a new war is coming. Machan says he believes that Namor is the best equip to handle whatever is coming.
Over at Avengers Mountain while doing a training session Captain America talks to Jim Hammond (the original Human Torch) about a story from the war. Jim mentions he is gathering stories to write with his new publisher. Captain America says he is happy to help how he can as he thinks the world needs to know what happened during the war.
Captain America says he is surprised Jim has forgotten these stories. Jim reveals that the man who created him (Professor Horton) made him with the ability to forget in order to be as close to human as possible, which is why he wants to write about the Invaders. Captain America mentions remembering Bucky and Namor, who they fought alongside, is a good thing.
Jim brings up the recent incident with Namor. Captain America says Namor killed those Roxxon people in cold blood. Jim thinks that Namor has never been able to escape the rules from the war. He goes on to say he wants to interview Namor as he was their friend because Namor did end up roaming the Earth as an amnesiac for a time and that may have affected him. Jim asks Captain America to help him help Namor.
Back in the past Steve is having a hard time dealing with how many they’ve lost in the war. Jim reminds Steve of the good they have done. Steve asks how Namor is doing. Jim mentions that they haven’t seen him since Tommy died and don’t expect him to be at the burial.
A little later Steve finds Namor partying and hitting on a woman. Steve confronts Namor for how he is acting after the recent loss of troops that included Namor’s friend. Namor states he is powerful enough to crush everyone there and is only participating in the war to stop the Nazis before they reach his seas. Namor then goes to the bar asking for more water.
Steve tells Namor that while this war has taken his friend it won’t take Namor’s memory of him and he must honor Tommy’s name by paying respect to him and the other troops. Steve spots Bucky in the bar and tells him the same thing.
Back in the present, Machan questions Namor on meeting Vodani without the Defenders of the Deep after what happened recently. Namor says that the only way for the Vodani to rejoin them is for him to meet them alone to show everyone, including the Sea Blades, they all fall under his rule.
Namor then meets with the Karris. Namor states that the Sea Blades need to rejoin Atlantis for the final battle that is to come. Karris wonders what Namor could even offer them to in return. Namor states his offer is simple: join him or die. Karris and the Sea Blades don’t take kindly to this and threaten to kill Namor.
Suddenly Namor splits the sea, causing Karris and the others unable to breath the air. Namor once again asks Karris to accept his offer. Karris, while losing his breath, agrees to Namor’s offer.
Namor returns the sea to its previous state. He then tells Karris that he and the Sea Blades now serve him as their king and that they all now know how powerful he is.
Back in the past Namor attends the funeral for Tommy and the other troops that recently died.
In the present Namor uses these memories to remember of the lives he has seen lost in battle and promises to not let that happen again.
Somewhere in Main, Jim thanks a guy named Randall for connecting him with Steve again. Randall says that he is happy to help since the Invaders team helped him survive, with Namor saving his life twice.
Randall’s daughter, Namor (Nay for short) Peterson, walks in stating she wished Captain America saved Randall instead. Randall hands Jim a photo album with pictures from the war. Nay asks Jim for a moment of his time alone.
Nay asks Jim to leave the photo album with her as they are precious family heirloom. Jim understands and hands over the photo album. A picture falls out. Jim picks it up and sees that it is a picture of Namor from when he was an amnesiac with Charles Xavier.
Over in Avengers Mountain Tony Stark tries to convince Steve to let the Avengers go with him in confronting Namor. Steve does not listen to Tony. Instead he calls Bucky to tell him about what is going on with Namor and how this is Invaders business. During the call Steve tells Bucky that there is something wrong with Namor and they have to reason with Namor so this isn’t the end of him
Underwater Karris speaks with one of the Sea Blades about how differently Namor is acting. The Sea Blade looks at Namor and wonders how mad their king is. End of issue.
The Good: With Invaders #1 Chip Zdarsky is able to turn in an issue that does not shy away from the characters past. Instead of just starting off fresh Zdarsky uses everything that has been established, specifically in the pages of Avengers, to make sure Invaders is a series that hits the ground running. In the process he is still able to present a comic book that feels welcoming to new readers that aren’t familiar with the Invaders.
The greatest strength that Invaders #1 has is that it does not turn away any type of reader. You don’t need to be know who with the Invaders, recent events in their respective lives or events that have happened in other comics to get what is going on in Invaders. Zdarsky is able to present all the necessary information to the reader in a way that enhances the story for each of the Invaders, specifically Namor, Captain America and the original Human Torch.
In doing so Zdarsky is able to portray an intriguing story around Namor where the character is position as both the protagonist and villain of this first story arc. It’s a very delicate balance that Zdarsky runs but he does it successfully. A major factor for this success comes from how he uses the flashbacks to WWII in conjunction with what is going in the present. The cuts between the flashbacks and present day scenes are done in a way that does not distract from their role in the story. Instead they are used together by Zdarsky to enhance the overall story that he is trying to tell.
Having that balance was especially important given how Zdarsky is going about portraying Namor. The flashback scenes serve as a gate into the complex nature of Namor’s character. He isn’t a guy that is trying to just enforce his rule on everyone. Namor is a deeply conflicted individual whose experiences throughout his long life have shaped him to be who he is today. Portraying that key part of the character is what as a reader I was compelled from, even as many of Namor’s actions were things I disagree with.
In creating that connection Zdarsky creates a bigger questions around Namor’s journey either being that of hero or villain. Is the character going to continue falling down the path of darkness that he is setting himself up for? Or can he be set on a path were he can finally be redeemed as a hero?
These questions are given even greater importance due to how this is how characters from all sides of this story are reacting to Namor’s actions. It helps safely position Namor into both the series’ protagonist and villain for the first story arc. This will be all about helping figure out what is wrong with Namor and how his past has led up to the events of the war he is about to begin with the surface.
In making this about Namor it allows characters like Captain America and the Winter Soldier, who are leads in their own books, not forced to dominate the issue to get the story over. The set-up for Captain America in particular was well handled as Zdarsky is able to paint him as a leader who is needed to get through to Namor. With what has recently happened to Captain America it is understandable that he would take it on himself to get through Namor without the Avengers help. Because he knows that if he brought the other Avengers with him it would only be a declaration they are ready for a war. At least with only Winter Soldier with him there is a chance that Captain America can talk to Namor as people who were previously allies.
Having Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, be the one to push Captain America to reason with Namor was a good way to present the character to the reader. While he is the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond is a character that hasn’t been a constant presence in the Marvel Universe. He has only randomly appeared over the years but never in a consistent role. Because of that it was important to give us information on where Jim is now and what he is doing.
Zdarsky does just that with Invaders #1 as we get to spend time getting to know Jim. It is done in a way that does not dominate the issue, instead it enhance the story being told and helps it move forward. Also, with Jim assembling the stories of the Invaders together into books it positions him to be the heart of this team once he does get in on the action. That will give him a unique role on the team, especially considering he is an android, once he does go back to being the Human Torch and gets in on the action.
Carlos Magno and Butch Guice did a great job delivering strong artwork for Zdarsky’s story in Invaders #1. With how the story is framed they are able to balance out giving the scenes that take place present and past a style that matches the tone of the era. It is one of the times were having two artists working on the issue was appropriate. At the same time they are able to keep key aspects of the character designs consistent in both the present and past to make sure the transitions did not affect the pacing of the story. And while this was a very talking head issue Namor showing how powerful he is when he splits the sea was a good example of what is to come from an action standpoint in Invaders.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Invaders #1 successfully sets the stage for what the first major story arc of this series will be. Chip Zdarsky catches us up with where all the original Invaders are in the present and how important their history with each other from WWII is. Namor taking a key role provided the hook needed as Zdarsky positions him as the protagonist to follow while simultaneously being presented in a villainous role. If your a fan of Captain America, Winter Soldier, Namor or the original Human Torch I recommend checking out Invaders #1.