Jan 10, 2011

Still Only 25¢: The Invaders #6

Disclaimer: Part of an on-going series of blog posts about comic-books, the mid-70's and a wee boy named Earl. Or not really. You know my name isn't really Earl, right? - Earl
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Right around the time I started reading comic-books as a child, Marvel realized that they could double-up or triple-up on the titles they were producing starring some of their more popular characters.  That was the idea behind Marvel Two-In-One or Marvel Team-Ups.  Another idea they had was to take some of their popular characters that were introduced in the Golden Age of Comic-Books and create new stories for them set during the WWII era.  That was the idea behind The Invaders, the greatest superheroes of World War Two!

The core team, Captain America, Namor the Sub-Mariner and The Human Torch, were all characters introduced back in the 1940's.  And they had plenty of experience fighting against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  All the Axis, in fact.  Some of the greatest propaganda that was produced during the war came from some of those comic-books.  The very fist issue of Captain America, published almost a year before the United States joined the war effort, depicted Cap punching Hitler right in the kisser.  And it was a trend that continued with the Marvel/Timely publications for the next half-decade.  Readers loved to see their heroes kick some Nazi or Japanese ass on full-color magazine pulp.

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The Invaders #6, and pretty much the entire run through the mid-to-late-70's, are absolutely burned into my memory.  When I was browsing through Cover Browser (the reference site I use for the images for this post series) the other day and saw some of these covers, well...it brought me right back to a place and time when things were simpler.  Especially me.  That was probably the non-monetary idea behind the title anyway.  Although most folks consider comic-books to be an outlet for children or young teens, the publishers often targeted older readers and collectors.  And putting some of the more popular current characters into a setting that some older readers remembered from their own early years was one way to do that.  It was also a way for Marvel to either bring back and ret-con characters that hadn't seen the light of day for decades, or to create new heroes or villains that wouldn't make sense in the Nixon/Ford/Carter era, but would fit right in fighting against the Nazis.

The Liberty Legion, actually introduced in The Invaders #5, were one of the examples of the former.  Timely Comics characters from the 1940's that were re-introduced, ret-conned and assembled into a new super-group.  With characters like Whizzer (not for peeing), Miss America, The Patriot and Jack Frost.  All characters with back-stories and abilities that mirrored other heroes that were being published at the time, or they were predecessor for characters that Marvel would develop during the Silver Age in the 1960's.  Captain America's sidekick, Bucky, was also a a member of this super-team.  Actually the leader of the team, as he was the one to assemble the squad.

But the reason why this particular book stays with me is a character called Blue Diamond who had, er, diamond-hard impenetrable skin and superhuman strength.  Thanks to a, er. blue diamond that he found on an expedition to Antarctica whose shards were embedded into his skin when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat.  Back around 1990, when I began to read and collect comic-books once again, I had the hardest time trying to remember which book featured this character that I remembered so vividly.  I knew his back-story.  I knew his powers.  I knew that it somehow involved World War II.  But I just couldn't find those old issues that I remembered and loved so much.

And it was all because I had somehow combined his back-story and abilities with another character from the Liberty Legion...Jack Frost.  Not that he would turn to solid ice, but I thought he turned into a solid diamond at will.  And whenever I tried to explain it to my fellow comic-book geeks, I started with "this WWII hero who was made of diamonds!".  Some even pointed me toward The Invaders and the Liberty Legion, but when they showed me what Blue Diamond looked like I was positive that they were wrong and I was thinking of someone else.

Turns out that I wasn't.  It's just that my pre-teen memory combined different characters from the same book into one mish-mash of the two.  Or so it would seem.  But here's the thing...I'm not 100% sure that I did combine the two characters.  A part of my brain STILL thinks that there was a character like the one I remember.  And I even think that I finally found that character back when the Internet came around.  And it wasn't a recurring character.  Just someone who appeared in one or two issues of something.  Maybe as a "comic-within-a-comic" or something.  Or in an ad that appeared in the 70's in a comic-book.  THAT sounds about right.  (UPDATE: Something like this)

But now I can't find it again.

And it's killing me.

7 comments:

badgerdaddy said...

If Blue Diamond became a superhero that way, does that mean he was vulnerable to being hit by German torpedoes? After all, if the original diamond made shards in the explosion... Ah, I'm reaching.

RW said...

I wonder what it would be like to have calves so big that if you stood at attention you could pass a softball between your knees...

sybil law said...

I hate when memories are not what you thought... or whatever...

B.E. Earl said...

badger - No...it's a valid question. I don't think he was invulnerable. He just had really hard skin and super strength. Diamonds are among the harder substances known, outside of my pants of course. But they aren't indestructible. Did I go to far there?

RW - It's a burden, man. A real bother at times.

Sybil - Oh, I've written about it before. I think. Wait...I can't remember. Fuck.

Slyde said...

the invaders is one of those books that i never had any interest in.

im pretty sure i have 1 issue, maybe the invaders annual. I'll sell it to you, cheap.

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - I don't the Hulk ever appeared in its pages, so I can understand why you never picked it up. But Baron Blood was cool.

Lotus07 said...

So you have a bunch of guys in tights and/or speedos, wearing masks, one throwing 'great balls of fire', and a large phallic sysmbol in the background.....now I am not drawing any conclusions here.....just sayin....

During this same time frame, I was checking out Playboy down in the basement by flashlight.