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Date: 22/3/2004
Source: Newsarama

by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean

note: pencil sketches are preliminary art by Jacobsen and are not official art for the series

With a wave of returning titles and characters (and costumes), the quick and easy is to say that the ‘90s are back in fashion again in comics. With Marvel in June, you’ve got to go 50 or so years earlier to find the inspiration for a new look at a classic team: The Invaders.

Created by then Editor in Chief (and Golden Age uberfan) Roy Thomas in the mid ‘70s, the team was retrofitted into Marvel WWII era continuity as an invading force, leading the charge into Europe and other wartime theaters. Originally, the team was made up of Captain America, the original Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner. During the book’s 41 issue (and one Giant Sized special) run, Thomas brought back Golden Age Timely characters to fill the team’s ranks, created a few new, such as Union Jack and Spitfire.

While the team is remembered fondly by its original readers (several of whom are now 30-somehting creators themselves), it’s also a concept that Marvel has, over the years, sought to bring back, keeping the team alive in guest appearances over the years, as well as a 1993 miniseries.

In June, the team gets an update and a go at it on its own, courtesy of writer Allan Jacobsen and former Stormwatch: Team Achilles artist C.P. Smith. The series kicks off with a #0 in June, and the ongoing series begins in July. Prior to that, current Uncanny X-Men and upcoming X-Men writer Chuck Austen brings the team back in his “Once an Invader” arc that runs through May’s Avengers #82 & #83, June’s #84 and concludes in Invaders #0, co-written by Austen and Jacobsen.

Newsarama got in touch with Jacobsen for a look at the new Invaders.

Newsarama: Considering the fact that this is a modernized version, what is the high pitch for this new team and series?
Allan Jacobsen: Here's the core concept: The Invaders: Soldiers, Super-Heroes, Sentinels of Liberty since the Second World War. Beyond borders, beneath the seas, behind enemy lines, they hunt the hidden terrors that threaten civilization.

NRAMA: The old Invaders used to fight the Axis forces, and took the fight to the enemy. Why is it called the “Invaders” this time around?
AJ: The team exists to battle threats that are virtually impossible for other super-humans to battle. Not to suggest that our team is "better" than any other, but the Invaders unit are privy to some information that most of the world's superhuman population is unaware of. Basically, this is a story about a group of Idealists who are willing to go beyond borders to do what they believe is right. That being said, I want to be clear that this isn't a book about hate, and it isn't about disrespecting any real-world culture. It's about breaking down barriers the barriers that we've built between ourselves and inspiring disparate cultures to unite against a common threat. The premise is that the Invaders have been reformed to combat a specific threat - although that might not be clear to the reader at first glance. It will all be revealed within the first arc, issues #1-3. I'm not a fan of dragging out the set-up - I want to make it clear up front why this is an important team, and why it's a cool book. If you have a cool idea, why be coy and take twelve issues to set it up? Man, I get bored to tears. It's okay for a movie. That takes two hours. In a comic book it takes a year!

NRAMA: The Invaders had appeared and starred in their own comics in the past, and the team has seen action in the ‘90s. What makes this relaunch different from those that have come before?
AJ: I didn't get to write any of those other stories! The new series has a different focus. There is a common enemy/threat that holds the new series together---an extension of what the Invaders battled in the original series, but more universal. I have a healthy respect for the material that has preceded us. I really loved Marvel Universe in particular. We're building on the past. We're an extension of it, but at the same time, the new book stands on its own. You don't need to own any of the old material to understand what's going on. Maybe the biggest difference between the new and old Invaders is the visuals. We're pushing the military aspect this time around. It was always there in prior incarnations, but we're trying hard to strike a balance between "Soldiers" and "Super-Heroes".

NRAMA: So who are the soldiers and superheroes that make up the team?
AJ: There's a core unit of about five members, but there's a larger supporting cast that features a number of familiar faces. The original lineup was composed of Golden Age Marvel's Big Guns: Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Jim Hammond, the original Torch. All of these characters will appear. It wouldn't be Invaders without them. That being said, not all three appear in Chuck Austen's initial Invaders guest stint in Avengers. In the Avengers issues, a female "Human Torch" makes her debut. I don't want to say too much about her at this point since her background and history are an important subplot in the on-going series. Captain America will be on hand as well, but not everyone is happy about that. Including Captain America. I don't want to give anything away from Chuck's story, so I'm going to stick with what's going on in the Invaders ongoing.

Our main cast will be:
Captain America – Well - "a" Captain America. Wait and see. This character was part of the Invaders project before I came along. I admit I was hesitant at first about precisely how he fit in. After writing Invaders #1, he has quickly become one of my favorites. This is a man passionate about his commitment to his personal beliefs. Fiercely pro-soldier, though not necessarily pro-war. He's complex and extremely compelling to write. Longtime fans, take a deep breath, and repeat to yourselves and keep this in mind: “Allan loves these characters and respects their history." Trust me. It's all good! New fans hold on. Invaders #1 hits the ground at break neck speed, and this Captain America is going to be a big part of it.
Sub-Mariner - Namor will be appearing in the regular series until Marvel wrenches him from my cold dead hands. We need him. He's the power and nobility of the Invaders. He's an Atlantean Monarch---an outsider with an outsider's view of air-breather politics. In fact, the Atlantean Nation plays a tremendous role in the series. In the past, when Atlantean Soldiers turn up, they're usually antagonists led by Attuma or something. They're with the good guys here.
Jim Hammond - Come on! This guy is Marvel's original super-hero! He's on the cover to Marvel Comics #1. He's been killed off, resurrected, replaced, stripped of his powers, and kicked around for sixty years. With Invaders, we are raising the Torch! This guy is an A-list player, and it's about time he got some serious attention! No more standing in the Fantastic Four's shadow for this Torch! He's gone through a lot, and we're going out of our way to provide a visually distinctive and interesting character. During the conceptual stage, my original working title for the series was "Liberty's Torch". Expect big things from Hammond!
The female Human Torch from Chuck's stories will be present as well. I really wanted Hammond in the series. For me it was essential, and at first this other Torch seemed like a redundancy, but she's not. She's cool. Wait and see.
Union Jack - The good one! Joseph Chapman is an everyman hero hailing from Great Britain. He's the successor to the Union Jack mantle, a traditional identity established during World War I. Union Jack is one of my absolute favorite characters, and I'm thrilled to be able to work with him. Everyone seems to love his costume. It's a classic, and he's got a built in rogues gallery that dates back to the original Union Jack's World War II adversary, Baron Blood. Amongst this incredibly powerful cast of characters, Jack provides a breath of fresh air. Before becoming a Super-Hero this guy was an art student. Before that he was a street tough. He's the kind of guy that's the first to start swinging in a bar fight, and the first to buy you a beer after he cleans your clock.
Spitfire - Lady Jacqueline Falsworth is a speedster, a World War II era heroine restored to the fullness of her youth. Union Jack and Spitfire have a complicated history, and an even more complicated relationship. She's the mother of his best friend, and he is the successor of an identity begun by her father. That and the fact that she's gorgeous. It makes me think of the Fountains of Wayne song, "Stacy's Mom.” Spitfire is the ultimate hot mom---an older English noblewoman in the body of a twenty-five year-old.
Blazing Skull - A mystically empowered powerhouse who was briefly a member of the Invaders during the 1990's revival. Chuck brought him back and dusted him off. His backstory is that he's a pacifist, chosen as the ambassador of a bizarre Tibetan cult who have replaced their faces with blazing skulls to remind them not to judge others on appearance! When he shows up in Avengers, the former pacifist is suddenly a sadistic loon with powers we've never known him to have and a penchant for spouting one-liners. Believe it or not, he's the same guy! You'll see. The poor guy has been through a lot.
The Thin Man - Oh yeah. Laugh it up. This guy has an edge. Literally. He can flatten himself to a nearly two-dimensional state, making his entire body a lethal, razor-edged weapon. He can appear and disappear at will by warping his body through sub-dimensional space. He comes from a technically advanced society of other-dimensional explorers that were wiped out by the
Nazis. The Thin Man has been hunting war criminals and perfecting his superhuman abilities for sixty years, and he's not in a good mood.
There are others. The day-to-day operations of the Invaders headquarters is managed by Admiral Peter Noble, a swashbuckling WW II hero with an enchanted sword. It's a great cast!

NRAMA: What about Citizen V? And the V-Battallion? Do you have plans for him/them, given their connections?
AJ: The V-Battalion figures in as backstory, if nothing else. Hammond led them. Namor hated them. Spitfire was once a member. Given time the V-Battalion will certainly appear in one form or another.

NRAMA: So how are the ties between the Invaders and Avengers established in May and June’s Avengers issues?
AJ: Well, Chuck's initial line-up will appear in the ongoing series, for one thing. There're some character bits and motivations that he's introduced that will need to be dealt with in the main series. But seriously, if you pick up Invaders #1, it will all be clear. I prefer modular storytelling. If you have one part, it's a good read. If you have all the parts, you see a bigger picture. When I was a kid, I didn't have any idea there were comic shops. If I missed an issue it was lost to me, so my favorite comics were the ones that started with Daredevil standing in an alleyway looking like something the cat dragged in and swearing revenge on a villain I'd never seen. I didn't need the previous part; I just knew this guy in the red suit was brassed off about something. And then the story would move on---

NRAMA: Fair enough. And then, June's #0 is the conclusion to the “Once an Invader” storyline and that you’re co-writing it with Chuck, and sets things up for your run, right?
AJ: Right. It's a bridge between the Avengers issues and the new series. I enjoyed it a lot. The artist complained that there're too many damn characters to draw because the Avengers make an appearance. There's a lot to draw. It's easier to write it. I work in animation, so usually I'm the guy going "You want me to draw whaaaaat?", and cursing the idiot writer. And now---I have become that idiot writer!!

NRAMA: A quick glimpse into the crystal ball here... can you tease out the first arc a little?
AJ: Aw, man! You're making this tough! The “first” arc for the team is actually written by Chuck in the pages of Avengers. That's mostly about the initial formation of the new unit. They have a mission, but you won't know the big picture until the first arc of the ongoing series. The first arc of the new series deals with the repercussions of what the Invaders have done in the pages of Avengers - although it is a modular storyline---you don't need the Avengers issues, it just enriches the overall story. An old enemy returns with a brand new face, and a new agenda, and only the Invaders have the ability to stop 'em. Metaphorically, the villains are cockroaches and the Invaders are guys wearing combat boots. Squish!

NRAMA: Who's the main adversary in the first arc?
AJ: The cockroaches.

AJ: Not really. The main adversary is an old, old, old time Invaders nemesis. Unless you've never read Invaders in the past. Then, the main adversary is a brand spankin' new threat. It really is new reader friendly. The villains in the first arc look really cool, and there's something particularly chilling about them. This is a comic book first, so while there is a good deal of war violence, you probably won't be running into threats like this in the real world. At least I hope not.

NRAMA: Both you and Chuck have worked to establish this team in modern continuity, but obviously, there are significant ties with earlier history of the Marvel Universe. Are there plans to revisit the WWII era at all?
AJ: The series functions on an enormous timeline. I hope to do stories stretching from WW II to the present.

NRAMA: Way out of order here, but let’s talk about you. Initially, how did you get involved in the Invaders series?
AJ: I had been pitching things to Marvel. I was in the process of developing a pitch for a Golden Age series that featured the Invaders, and I mentioned it to Chuck Austen during a lunch conversation. He was like "Oh, weird. They want me to put a new Invaders group into the Avengers." I was a bit bummed out. Always a bridesmaid--- A few weeks later, I asked Chuck if he would mind if I submitted my pitch for an ongoing series. He gave me his blessing, and the rest is history--- Wait. It's not history yet is it? It will be history soon. Trust me.

NRAMA: As you said, you had lunch with Chuck, and you’ve said previously that you’ve worked with him in the past. So where do you come from?
AJ: I'm a Director for Fox's King of the Hill. I've been with the show since 1996. I also storyboarded a bit on the Simpsons and did a bunch of things for Disney television animation. I recently wrote a Spider-Man story that I'm very proud of. I'm not sure when it will be released. I've developed about a hundred billion projects for Marvel that never quite happened. A hundred billion is a whole bunch. Let's see---what else? Does exotic dance count as entertainment?

NRAMA: Well, that depends…
AJ: Yeah, I suppose you'd have to see me dance to answer that properly.

NRAMA: … Moving along then, and back to comics, it’s a safe bet that you’re a big fan of the Golden Age?
AJ: Oh, absolutely! I adore that stuff! My first exposure to comics came when I was very young. My mentally challenged Uncle had a copy of Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Super Heroes which was filled with reprints of the Golden Age material. That's the stuff I fell in love with as a boy. My friends who read comics always preferred the newer characters. I wanted to be the Flash with that goofy hat, or the original Green Lantern in his got-dressed-in-the-dark-and color-blind costume. Yeah, I'm a big fan of the old stuff. It's primal, and imperfect and wonderful. This is my favorite material. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to share my passion with an audience that isn't duct-taped to a chair.

NRAMA: Art-wise, how’s the fit between you and C.P Smith?
AJ: He’s the perfect choice. I'm an artist myself, and I recently told C.P. that it's the fault of guys like him that I don't draw. He's positively brilliant. His attention to detail is incredible, and he's a wonderful story-teller. Since we both have experience a story-board artists we're speaking the same language. It's a terrific pairing. Thanks to Tom Brevoort fro assembling the team! C.P. and I first collaborated on an upcoming Spider-Man story - also edited by Tom. When C.P emailed the pages I was positively blown away! He followed that up with an amazing poster shot of Union Jack that blew away the Spider-Man stuff---and he drew the Union Jack one "for fun." I couldn't ask for a better artist. Keep your eye on this guy; he's going to be a star.

NRAMA: Obviously, you’re coming into the market where there’s another modern-day version of a Golden Age team, namely DC’s JSA. Are you a fan of the title, given your Golden Age roots?
AJ: It’s a wonderful book. It's not really what we're going for in Invaders though, but I love JSA. Except for that weird Mr. Terrific costume. Yow! He looks like a gym teacher. I want to do a cross-over!

NRAMA: An Invaders/JSA crossover? Well, looking at the success of JLA/Avengers, this would be the next logical move, no?
AJ: I'll say! Sign me up! I met [JSA writer] Geoff Johns at a party a couple of years ago at Chuck's house. He's a terrific guy. One of the few people I feel like I'm currently a fan of. When Chuck introduced me to him, I pulled my wife aside like a goober, "Did he say 'Geoff Johns'? Geoff Johns is the name of that guy I've been telling you about---the comics writer. That can't be him, can it?" Yeah, I'm a loser. But still, I demand a JSA/Invaders crossover! Please?

NRAMA: With the “beyond borders” approach of the team, there will be comparisons between Invaders and Wildstorm's Authority. Is Invaders Marvel’s answer to the somewhat totalitarian approach to super-heroics as seen in The Authority?
AJ: I thought that as the Ultimates! There are some obvious similarities, now that I think about it. Mostly because we're both super-hero books functioning on a global scale. Heck, who isn't these days? But I'm usually more concerned that we'll be accused of being Marvel's JSA. To be honest, I don't know if Invaders is Marvel's answer for anything. Maybe it is. I've heard Joe Q has a soft spot for the Invaders, but really, who knows? What matters to me is how I feel about it. This is a pet project for me - I already have a "real" job. Writing comics is the fun stuff for me, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to start-off with such an incredible series! As far as I'm concerned this project is all about my love these characters. I think the Authority is a good deal more Fascist than our guys. We have a bunch of old-school, heroic characters with high ideals. They just happen to be fighting a war.

NRAMA: What chance would the Avengers have against the Invaders then?
AJ: The Avengers stand no chance against the Invaders. We totally dominate in karaoke.

NRAMA: You're not starting a World War in the Marvel Universe, are you? The Invaders vs. the rest of the Marvel Universe?
AJ: I don't want to do anything radical. We're giving Johnny Storm a sex change. We're killing off Spider-Man. We're replacing the X-Men's costumes with pink leather. We're putting the nipples back on Batman. Yeah. Batman's ours too. Seriously though, there is already a World War going on. It started in 1939 and it never ended. The Invaders don't start trouble. They finish it.

NRAMA: Fair enough. Anything else you want to add?
AJ: We're using well-loved classic characters, and we're doing it with respect and admiration for what has come before. What's not to like? It's a good book. If you enjoy these characters, drop by and find out what they've been up to for all these years. The answers may surprise you.

I am officially intrigued. I've always had a passing interest in the Invaders, but I think that this new book will turn that into an obsession. It sure looks good to me, and I think I may have to check it out.

Here's hoping for a winner!
From what I've heard from people who have read the first few Once an Invader issues, this will definitely not be the Invaders of old.
Well, since I am a wee bit too young to remember the Invaders of old, I am simply hoping for a solid comic book. I think it has the potential to be a great book that could span generations of fans, and bring them together. Basically the same way JSA did over at DC.
I'm definately looking forward to it. I was a kid when the Invaders 70's series was out and I remember walking to the store and picking up the new issue when they got them. It was the first actual series I started to collect in succession. Before that it was mainly one of these, one of those, etc...
I agree Thor, lets hope for a nice solid book!
There's a good chance I'll be having Allan Jacobsen as the guest at the Fear of Writing Chatroom this month. Details forthcoming.

I read the Avengers issues that introduced the new Invaders, and I must be honest, I am less than impressed. I'm not a fan of Scott Kolins artwork, and maybe that had something to do with it, but I found very little about those issues that appealed to me.

Maybe the actual series will be better, but at this point I'm skeptical. Please, let me know if you read the series, and more importantly, if I am wrong in my misgivings.
I would have preferred to see some classic "untold" tales of the Invaders cos let's face it WW2 was a pretty drawn out affair and i'm sure a decent writer could blend a new set of stories into the existing mythology of Cap, Namor etc
After sitting in on an online interview with Allan Jacobsen, I am very hopeful for this series. I don't know if I will be able to afford to pick up this book, but if I read some positive reviews, I will certainly try to grab the TPB when it hits the shelves.

Allan was a very friendly guy who spoke knowledgably about the Invaders and their history. He seemed to have a real passion for the book, and I think that bodes well for the stories. Invaders #0 was co-written by Jacobsen and Chuck Austen, and was heavily influenced by Austen's plot. I heard less than wonderful things about that issue, but since it was a colaboration, I don't think it would be fair to judge the series on that one issue.

If any of you read the first few issues of this title, I would love to hear your thoughts. It seemed like a cool book when it was first announced, and I hope that my initial gut reaction turns out to be correct. Please, share your thoughts.
After six months of the New Invaders and rumors of declining sales I want to make a plea for this book. Allan Jacobsen is writing his heart out and C.P. Smith's art, while simplistic and hard to take at first, has grown on me. This is a good book. Anyone who hasn't been reading, or has dropped it, please take another look. It is one of the better books out there.

Glenn Walker

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