All-Winners Comics #19
Issue(s): All-Winners Comics #19
Also, regarding the credits: the above is from the UHMCC. Roy Thomas' afterword in the reprint suggests that Charles Nicholas may also have been involved, and see Mark's comment about Mike Sekowsky as well. It's all a bit lost to time.
The All-Winners comic had been running for a while now, but this was the first time the featured characters were brought together as a team in a single story. DC had already done this six years earlier with their Justice Society of America and it's surpising that Timely hadn't followed suit earlier. It's also interesting to remember that this team had existed in light of the anecdote about the creation of the Fantastic Four, where Martin Goodman ordered Stan Lee to create a team similar to DC's Justice League, considering that instead of reviving this group Stan Lee and Jack Kirby instead created an all new (except the Human Torch, sort of) team.
Anyway, there's no team origin story or anything here. The team is already an active unit at the start of this issue. The All-Winners Squad is summoned to the city museum by the Human Torch's sky-fire writing. There they learn that each exhibit from the Ages of Man - Ice, Stone, Bronze, Iron, and Steel, have been vandalized. The museum curator and his assistant provide the team with a note signed by ISBISA stating that each exhibit contains a clue - part of the Game of the Ages. Miss America goes to powder her nose (sheesh!) and a note falls out of her compact - it's addressed to "romaN" and it seems to be addressed to a traitor within the group.
Wait a minute! "romaN" is "Namor" backwards! ISBISA must have meant to hide the note in Namor's compact! The Torch and the Whizzer immediately assume that Namor is working with the bad guy and Namor, with his bizarrely triangular head which i absolutely love...
...storms off after picking up a clue from the Ice Age exhibit. Surprisingly, Toro is pissed that everyone fell for such a stupid trick, and runs off after Namor, leaving the Human Torch totally bewildered and feeling a little lost. It's actually a pretty good scene.
Conveniently, there are 5 clues and 5 adult super heroes. Each takes a clue and goes off in a different direction. There are then 5 chapters in the comic, each dealing with the adventures of an individual hero (or a hero and an under-aged sidekick). I've read a few early Justice League comics, and they were also like this. I'm not sure why they always did this in team books back then - was the technology not advanced enough to feature multiple super heroes on one page at the same time?
So each character is led by his or her clue to a crime already in progress. All the criminals are following plans given to them by ISBISA, but none are expecting super-heroes (except Namor's group, who is surprised that Namor is accompanied by Toro. Considering the explanation of ISBISA's plot at the end of the book, this would seem to be a mistake but perhaps in this one case the henchmen were warned that some heroes may show up) and their plots are foiled.
Most of the individual scenes are pretty generic, but it's interesting to see the Human Torch rescued by "what you'd call a lady copper... a policewoman!" who knows judo.
It turns out that ISBISA contacted a number of criminals a year ago and gave them each a foolproof plan in return for 25% of the loot. The heroes figure out that the crimes were actually distractions to keep them busy while ISBISA performed some master plan. The Torch apologizes to Namor for falling for the phony note, and Namor (oh my god his head is so weird!) graciously tells him, "Forget it! I'm just a hot-head! ISBISA wanted to split us and put a mental obstacle in our paths!". Then they figure out that ISBISA means Ice, Stone, Bronze, Iron, Steel, and ...?
Did you guess Atomic? (i didn't figure that one out, but i guess in 1946 atomic energy looked a lot more like the future than it does today). Then the team rushes off to the "Atom Smasher Vacuum Tube" (???) to stop the bad guy from stealing the atom bomb. This time they work together and defeat the bad guy, who has no super powers. It turns out to be the museum curator's assistant. He wanted to steal the bomb so he could be the Dictator of the World!
"Dictators!", Captain America exclaims in the last panel. "We've had enough of them! Atomic power must be used for peace, not wars! It must be used to make life better for all people! The coming Atomic Age is not for one man - it is for the common man - for all mankind!"
This was one of two stories (the other was All-Winners #21) that actually were written in the 40s and actually contained a Marvel superhero team. The concept of The Invaders, while based loosely on these two issues, comes entirely from Roy Thomas's series in the 70s.
This isn't terrible - mainly because of the Sub-Mariner who is such a bizarre and interesting character for the Golden Age, but it isn't very good. There's very little characterization and the plot is full of holes not worth going into. But it's still a fun little book.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after WWII - the characters are back in America solving fairly mundane crimes. This was actually published in 1946 - after the war was over - and the Captain America and Bucky that appear in these stories are neither the real ones nor the 1950s commie-smashers. I'd much rather have moved the placement of this story up so that it could be the real Cap as the creators intended, but What If? #4 (which is in-continuity) establishes the Cap here as an intermediate Captain America named William Naslund, who previously had an identity as the ridiculously-named Spirit of '76 (who of course debuted in Roy Thomas' Invaders). (Further trivia/insanity: there was actually one more person who took on the Captain America role before the commie smasher: the Patriot. So there were three Captain Americas total while Steve Rogers was on ice. See What If? #4 for more.)
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Timely Presents: All Winners (Dec 99)
Inbound References (6): show
i've learned that you can pull huge things (like trains) by being so fast that the weight of the object never "catches up" to your body strength.
Toro and the Sub-Mariner clearly share a bond through their love of Speedos.
Posted by: min | January 18, 2007 2:01 PM
Mike Sekowsky probably had a hand in the art; he was THE prime violator in giving Sub-Mariner the pizza-slice head.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 11, 2011 6:39 AM
Since it is Namor, I would assume the "pizza slice" head would remind one of seafood pizza (Groan!). Actually, to me Subby's noggin could also resemble a child's top. Or perhaps the prince was an early test subject for botox gone awry? :-)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | April 6, 2018 11:46 PM
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