These two fairly light issues—straddling issue #24, which reprinted a Golden Age tale—involve a sidetrip to Egypt during the ongoing struggle to save young Toro’s life (after his critical injury in issue #21) and sets up the next storyline with tremendous resonance for the World War II era as well as today. (We’ll see a hint of that at the end of this post.)
In issue #23, the rest of the Invaders try to reassure the Human Torch (and Bucky) that Toro’s in good hands, but even Captain America seems shaken (as the exposition eloquently points out).
Namor is… helpful, in his own way, reminiscent of Stoic and Eastern teachings, and when Bucky reasonably objects, the Sub-Mariner shares his own distress, which only serves to humanize him (always a good thing).
After the doctor tells the heroes of another doctor in California who may be able to save Toro, Bucky offers to fly him there in Namor’s flagship, and the rest of the team—including Spitfire and Union Jack—are directed by their military liaisons to Egypt to counter the threat of the Sons of the Scarab, domestic terrorists who want to both restore ancient Egypt and overthrow British occupation, even if it means joining forces with Nazi Germany.
After arriving in Egypt and battling some of the Sons of the Scarab, the team meets their liaison, archeologist Dr. Faoul, and find out where he suspects the Sons are hiding—which draws principled objection from Namor that Cap counters with an argument for minimizing inevitable damage.
Before Namor and the Torch starts their work on the pyramid, the other three Invaders are called to do some morale-building for the troops, who Cap easily acknowledges are the true heroes of this war—an attitude he consistently expresses in the modern day, especially when he meets veterans or their survivors, and it’s gratifying to see it in him this early as well.
Once inside the pyramid, Namor and Torch find a mystical scarab—although a different color from the one Dan Garrett would find—which Faoul grabs and transforms into the
Scarlet Beetle Scarlet Scarab (not to be confused with this member of Infinity Inc., also co-created by Roy Thomas).
(I joke, but Thomas admitted that the Scarlet Scarab was inspired by other insect-based characters, including the Blue Beetle.)
Their inevitable clash continues into issue #25, while the other three Invaders and the British military face a Nazi attack. Ever the cautious one who prefers to deliberate and plan before rushing into battle, Cap tries to get his two English colleagues to keep calm, but they prefer to carry on (fighting).
But even Cap is overtaken by romantic visions of heroic perseverance against overwhelming odds—including against the British themselves at Valley Forge—and decides to join Union Jack and Spitfire.
Noble, perhaps, but a bit too foolhardy to be truly virtuous!
The gambit works, but for a surprising reason: It serves as a successful if unintended bluff.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Scarab has formally allied with the Nazis, but Namor manages to convince him that he’s just being used, so the Scarab takes him to go think about it a bit—which Cap appreciates.
The Scarab does eventually change his mind and joins the Invaders to defeat the Nazis, but then surprises the team when he asserts his ideological devotion, not to the Allies, but to his homeland. Again, Cap appreciates this, perhaps out of a sense of shared patriotism and also out of a more pragmatic interest in appeasing (rather than antagonizing) a potential future ally.
Finally, we get a hint of the next storyline, involving Bucky and the search for the surgeon who can save Toro’s life… a surgeon who happens to have a Japanese name during World War II.
The Invaders encounter the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in the next post… and I don’t think it is spoiling anything to say they will be as repulsed as we are today when remembering this shameful episode in our history.
Collected in: Invaders Classic: The Complete Collection Volume 2.
LAST ISSUES: Invaders #19-22 (August-November 1977)
NEXT ISSUES: Invaders #26-28 (March-May 1978)