Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Freedom Fighters vs. The Invaders

The Freedom Fighters vs. The Invaders! 

The Freedom Fighters' appearance fighting Nazis in the pages of Justice League of America #s107-108 inspired Roy Thomas to create The Invaders, his World War II era Nazi-fighting super-group for Marvel. 

Please, let me present my case....

The Facts: 
The Freedom Fighters made their debut in Justice League of America #s107-108, which was on sale in the summer of 1973. They were a group of DC's Golden Age super-heroes fighting Nazis. 

The Invaders
made their debut in Giant-Sized Invaders #1, which went on sale in March 1975. They were a group of Marvel's Golden Age super-heroes fighting Nazis. The publication date means that they would have to have been working on this story in late 1974 and/or very early 1975. 

Len Wein wrote JLA #s 107-108. He moved from DC to Marvel in late 1974, where he served as Marvel's Editor-In-Chief until 1975. He was Marvel's Editor-In-Chief when The Invaders got its go-ahead and when they made their debut. 

The covers of JLA #107 and Giant-Sized Invaders #1 share an image of heroes charging forward, as if on a large globe of the Earth, while others watch them. 

A group of characters closely resembling the Freedom Fighters guest-star in The Invaders #s 14-15

The six Marvel Crusaders are Captain Wing, Dyna-Mite, Ghost Girl, the Spirit of '76, Thunder Fist, and Tommy Lighting. The Spirit of '76 is the Uncle Sam copy, and the only American on the team. The rest are from England, Scotland, and Ireland, according to Upper Class English Noblewoman, Jacqueline Farnsworth, aka Spitfire. Here are their profiles from The Invaders #15

A group of characters closely resembling the Invaders guest-stars in Freedom Fighters #s 7-9. Roy Thomas and Len Wein themselves make a cameo appearance in Fighters #9 (along with Archie Goodwin and Marv Wolfman.) 

The five DC Crusaders are Americommando, Rusty, Barracuda, Fireball, and Sparky, analogs of Captain America, Bucky, Namor, the Human Torch, and Toro. In Freedom Fighters #8 we learn that the Americommando is actually the Fighters' arch-enemy the Silver Ghost, and in Freedom Fighters #9 we learn that the other Crusaders are comic-book writers who look very much like Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Archie Goodwin. Here is their debut scene from Freedom Fighters #7

Roy Thomas left Marvel in 1981 and began writing a series set in World War 2 for DC called All-Star Squadron. He included an "origin story" of the Freedom Fighters in All-Star Squadron #s 32-35

Circumstantial Evidence: 
The covers of Giant-Sized Invaders #1 and Freedom Fighters #1 share an image of the main heroes being surrounded by armed enemies. 

Likely Conclusion: 
Roy Thomas saw what Len Wein did with the Golden Age "Quality" characters in the JLA stories and liked it. He thought it would be a great idea to do something similar with Captain America and company, and when Len came over to Marvel a few months later, they talked it out and Len gave Roy the go-ahead. 

That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. 

Whether you agree with me or not, please come back next week as we take an in-depth look at Marvel's version of the Freedom Fighters, The Crusaders, in The Invaders #14! 

By the way, I met Roy Thomas at Heroes Con in June 2023 and asked him about the crossover. He told me that it was something that Tony Isabella had recommended. Tony had recently left Marvel for DC and had been the Freedom Fighters editor for several issues. He coordinated with Roy to have this unofficial crossover, and I'm so glad that he did! 

From The Marvel History Year By Year book

The Invaders
assembled by Roy Thomas

1 comment:

  1. This was a great read…I’ve always love those unofficial big two crossovers, even the wink and nod cameo appearances, which I try to collect. Good stuff!