The first three of these four issues tie up the storyline from the last post, with the fourth exploring the origin of Toro (with minimal Cap content). The most interesting part may the return of a former Invader, as seen on the cover to issue #20 above… but did Lord Fallsworth get better, or is this someone new?
Most of the content in this post comes from issue #19, as Cap and the Destroyer—the Golden Age Timely Comics hero age reintroduced in the last issue, but with a mysterious new identity—attempt to rescue the rest of the Invaders, who have been taken from Hitler’s fortress to Berlin for execution. Although the others are somewhat defeated, Bucky retains his fighting spirit, if only for the sake of Cap (whom they believe is dead).
Like the last issue, the Destroyer is once again in the position of having to calm down Cap, who is a vengeful mood since he learned of his colleagues’ fate (especially Bucky’s).
Even though Bucky still has a lot of fight left in him, as we see above, Cap grows impatient and rushes in, with some clever quips about the Nazi flag.
(If that line was in a comic book before, I don’t know of it—anyone else remember it?)
While Namor watches Cap fight, he has some uncharacteristically sincere and generous words for Cap (even if he keeps them to himself).
The Destroyer joins the fight just in time for a Nazi to threaten Bucky, which forces Cap to surrender… but doesn’t have the same effect on everyone.
Was the Destroyer more willing to risk Bucky’s life because he was less attached to him, or did he simply see a way to defeat the Nazis without risking the boy’s life (because the Nazis were focused on Cap and not him)? We’ll never know… and it may not matter after another Nazi throws a grenade in the Destroyer’s direction and it explodes, causing Cap to ponder the nature of war and its effect on the virtue of its combatants.
(For more on the morality of war and just war theory, see this entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)
Nonetheless, Cap remains surrendered, and the Nazis take him, his shield, and the rest of the Invaders away, in preparation for their execution the next day… but Cap remains defiant, even as he’s dragged on the ground behind the truck carrying the rest.
Meanwhile, Spitfire, Dyna-Mite, and Lord Fallsworth also try to rescue the Invaders, and in the process Dyna-Mite remembers more about his past, including his friend Brian Fallsworth (son of Lord Fallsworth and brother of Spitfire), who became none other than the Mighty Destroyer (who apparently just died).
After that discovery, they are captured by the Nazis as well, and Spitfire is taken to die with the Invaders. (What about Dyna-Mite? Maybe they missed him? Hmm…) And oh yeah, Hitler ordered Warrior Woman to marry Master Man to create the ultimate Aryan spawn. (Eww…)
As Hitler prepares to give the command to his firing squad, a grenade falls from above, and a hero follows it.
In issue #20, we find out who this Union Jack is… and it’s a surprise in more ways than one.
This issue and the next are short, half of each issue taken up by Golden Age Namor reprints. Issue #20 is mostly the fight between the Invaders and Union Jack and the Nazis (including Master Man and Warrior Woman), in which Toro gets shot and Hitler flees in a plane… but with a hidden stowaway in the form of Dyna-Mite, and piloted by none than Lord Fallsworth and a German ally. In issue #21, the three of them take over the plane, but Hitler parachutes away, and the fight on the ground continues, with Cap and Union Jack acting like long-lost brothers.
When our heroes realize Hitler managed to launch an air attack again them, Cap dutifully takes up the artillery, although the exposition below makes clear how much he detests it.
The group reaches the English channel, at which point, in issue #22, their attention turns to saving Toro while revealing his true origin (as a mutant). But first, Cap has to acknowledge the speed of the British Navy…
..while ribbing Union Jack and implying that the Daily Mail has always been disreputable. (Some things never change!)
During the Human Torch’s recounting of Toro’s origin, he touches on his first meeting with Namor in Marvel Mystery Comics #8 (June 1940), which was also the first meeting between characters from two different features (discussed at more length here). This was almost a year before Cap debuted in March 1941, which is why he remembers that this happened while he was still scrawny Steve Rogers, 4-F.
Captain America #215, as it happens, came out the same month as Invaders #22. (Now that’s good editorial coordination!)
Collected in: Invaders Classic: The Complete Collection Volume 1.
LAST ISSUES: Invaders #16-18 (May-July 1977)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #212 (August 1977), Avengers #162 (August 1977), What If? #4 (August 1977), Captain America #213-214 (September-October 1977), Avengers #164-165 and Super-Villain Team-Up #14 (October-November 1977), Captain America #215 (November 1977)