Monday

OMU: Golden Age -- Part One

Although my timeline for the Original Marvel Universe works forward from the Fantastic Four’s debut in 1961, this is not meant to imply that that is the beginning of the story. In fact, there is a rich history of events leading up to that point, with numerous stories that have never been accurately portrayed. Just as the Silver Age comics are often unreliable sources for what “actually” happened in the Marvel Universe, the body of works published by Marvel’s predecessors, Timely and Atlas, only give the roughest of sketches as to the adventures of the so-called “Golden Age,” which centers on World War II. Some of these events were depicted in The Invaders, a series published in the 1970s but set in 1942. Others were revealed or clarified in flashbacks seen in a wide variety of Marvel’s titles, right up to the cessation of OMU stories in the early 1990s.

The following is a guide to the major heroes of the OMU’s “Golden Age,” based on the chronological analysis of the later stories. In order to fit these events into the pre-established timeline, occasional revisions were necessary. Also, some plausible speculations were suggested, either by the stories or connections between the stories, as to the “behind-the-scenes” activities or motivations of the characters. These speculations are included when relevant, since the Original Marvel Universe is now a closed system. Also, it is important to note that the Original Marvel Universe excludes stories published after the early 1990s, including series such as Thunderbolts and Citizen V and the V-Battalion. Events and revelations from these stories were considered non-canonical. See previous posts for a full explanation of my rationale.


Major Heroes and Sidekicks of the OMU Golden Age


Captain America

First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Years Active: 1941–1945, 1962 to the present

Steve Rogers was a very frail young man from New York City who was outraged by the spread of fascism in Europe, and in early 1941 he attempted to enlist in the Army. Rejected due to his poor health, Rogers pleaded for a chance to serve his country, and was introduced to General Chester Phillips, who recruited Rogers for an experimental procedure code-named Operation: Rebirth. Rogers was taken to a top-secret facility in Washington, DC, where he met the renowned scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine, and learned of Erskine’s development of the super-soldier serum, a chemical cocktail that could make Rogers into the ultimate human fighting machine—the first of many, if the experiment was a success. After weeks of tests to determine his suitability, Rogers received the serum and underwent a treatment of “vita-rays” to stabilize the serum’s effects on his body. The experiment worked, and Rogers emerged from the procedure transformed into the pinnacle of human strength and fitness.

Unfortunately, a Nazi spy had infiltrated the project and, horrified, immediately pulled out a gun and tried to kill Rogers and Erskine. Rogers defeated the spy, who was accidentally electrocuted, but it was too late for Dr. Erskine. His gunshot wounds proved fatal, and since he had never committed the full formula to paper, the secrets of the super-soldier serum were lost. In the wake of this set-back, the government redirected the super-soldier program into maximizing the potential effectiveness of Steve Rogers. Inspired by the exploits of the British World War I hero Union Jack, the government designed a red, white, and blue stars-and-stripes costume for Rogers, who would use the codename “Captain America.” It was hoped that Captain America would be both a champion of liberty and a counterpart to the mysterious Nazi agent known only as the Red Skull.

Rogers was assigned to Camp Lehigh to serve as a cover for his activities as Captain America. There, he met the camp’s “mascot,” the teen-aged orphan James Buchanan Barnes, nicknamed “Bucky.” After Barnes stumbled upon Rogers’ secret identity, he was also given a costume and permitted to act as Cap’s sidekick. Soon, Captain America and Bucky took the public’s imagination by storm, and countered numerous threats to America’s security. Shortly afterwards, Rogers was presented with a unique discus-shaped shield made of a virtually-indestructible metal alloy that had been created in an industrial accident. Late in the year, Captain America and Bucky joined with other costumed heroes in forming the Invaders, and spent most of the rest of the war fighting the Axis powers directly.

In March 1945, Captain America and Bucky attempted to prevent the Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo from launching a bomb-laden drone plane. Too late to stop the take-off, the heroes leapt aboard the plane and tried to sabotage it. The plane exploded, killing Bucky instantly. Captain America was thrown clear, but landed in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. There, unknown to all, the super-soldier serum prevented Rogers from freezing to death, enabling him to enter a state of suspended animation. Thus, Rogers slowly drifted to the Arctic, his body entombed in a cocoon of ice.

Fearful of the effects on Allied morale of the loss of Captain America and Bucky at this critical stage in the war, the government soon decided to secretly replace Rogers and Barnes with William Nasland and Fred Davis. Barnes’s remains were eventually identified, but Rogers was officially listed as “missing in action.”

Steve Rogers was revived about 18 years later after his former teammate, the Sub-Mariner, discovered the ice cocoon being worshipped as an idol by an Arctic tribe and hurled it out to sea. It drifted south, the ice slowly breaking away in the warmer waters, until Rogers was discovered by the recently-formed superhero group the Avengers, who successfully brought him out of suspended animation. Rogers had not aged in the meantime, nor suffered any worse after-effects than partial memory loss, and immediately resumed his career as Captain America, though the world had changed dramatically in the intervening decades.


The Spirit of ‘76

First Appearance: Invaders #14 (March 1977)
Years Active: 1942–1946

William Nasland became the costumed adventurer known as the Spirit of ‘76 when he was duped by a Nazi agent into joining a team called the Crusaders, which was meant to attack and defeat the Invaders. Nasland was given a patriotic costume with a special bulletproof, fireproof cape. Other members of the Crusaders received other pieces of Nazi technology that enabled them to become Captain Wings, Dyna-Mite, Ghost Girl, Thunderfist, and Tommy Lightning. However, after the Invaders exposed the Nazi agent’s duplicity, only Nasland elected to continue using his costumed identity. The Spirit of ‘76 was active throughout the war in supporting the Allied forces both at home and abroad.

In May of 1945, as the war in Europe was winding down, Nasland met with President Harry S. Truman, who asked him to replace the original Captain America, who was thought to have been killed in action. Honored, Nasland agreed and was given a Captain America costume and a facsimile of Cap’s shield, although it was not indestructible. Nasland was partnered with Fred Davis, the new Bucky, and they immediately went into action against Japanese forces in the Pacific.

After the end of the war, Nasland continued as Captain America, and became a founding member of the All-Winners Squad, the peacetime counterpart to the Invaders. Unfortunately, in 1946, Nasland was killed by the evil android Adam-II while protecting the up-and-coming politician John F. Kennedy.


The Patriot

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #21 (July 1941)
Years Active: 1941–1950

Jeffrey Mace was a columnist for the New York City newspaper The Daily Bugle, and, inspired by the exploits of Captain America, decided he could do his part to protect America from Nazi agents, as well as common criminals. He created the costumed identity of the Patriot.

As the Patriot, Mace developed a working relationship with Bugle reporter Mary Morgan, who assisted him on numerous cases, although she was unaware of his true identity. In 1942, Mace responded to a call for help from Captain America’s sidekick Bucky to rescue the Invaders from the clutches of the Red Skull. Mace teamed up with several other costumed heroes, and after a successful first mission, they decided to remain a team to serve as a domestic counterpart to the Invaders. Called the Liberty Legion, the team remained active throughout the rest of the war.

The Liberty Legion disbanded in the summer of 1945, but Mace continued to fight crime as the Patriot. By this time, Mary Morgan had developed a romantic attachment to the Patriot, and assisted him primarily in the hopes of proving to him she would make the perfect wife. However, their relationship changed in 1946, when, while helping the All-Winners Squad battle an evil android called Adam-II, Mace took on the identity of Captain America when the previous Cap was killed. Honored to serve as America’s premiere champion of liberty, Mace decided to continue to act as Captain America, immediately joining the All-Winners Squad, and so the Patriot identity was retired.

In 1949, Fred Davis, who had served Mace as Captain America’s sidekick Bucky, was crippled as a result of a gunshot wound sustained while fighting gangsters. Mace then found himself a new sidekick in the person of Women’s Army Corps officer Betsy Ross, who had served as Captain America’s liaison with the authorities since 1941. Ross adopted a golden costume and the codename Golden Girl. Around that same time, the Human Torch was believed killed and Toro disappeared, so the All-Winners Squad was officially disbanded.

Jeff Mace and Betsy Ross quickly found their relationship becoming increasingly sexual, and in 1950 they decided to retire from crimefighting and get married. After a successful career as a Boston newspaper reporter, Jeffrey Mace died of cancer in 1972.


Bucky

First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Years Active: 1941–1945

James Buchanan Barnes, an orphan and ward of the state, lived at Camp Lehigh as the unofficial “mascot,” nicknamed “Bucky.” There, in 1941, Barnes befriended Steve Rogers, and soon stumbled on the fact that Rogers was secretly Captain America. Rogers proposed that Barnes serve as Cap’s costumed sidekick, and after receiving approval from the military brass, Barnes received intensive training and a red-and-blue costume. Soon, Captain America and Bucky took the public’s imagination by storm, and fought to protect America from both foreign agents and domestic criminals.

Late in 1941, Captain America and Bucky joined other costumed heroes in forming the Invaders, and spent most of the rest of the war fighting the Axis powers directly across the globe. In 1942, Barnes was instrumental in forming the Liberty Legion, a group of costumed heroes who defended America’s homefront while the Invaders were abroad. Later that same year, he and his teammate Toro, who was the sidekick of the Human Torch, formed a splinter group called the Kid Commandos, after meeting the super-powered teenagers Gwenny Lou Sabuki and David Mitchell (Golden Girl and the Human Top, respectively).

In 1944, after helping Captain America deal a major setback to the German rocket program at Greymoor Castle, Bucky reached his 18th birthday and resigned from the Invaders, gave up his costumed identity, and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a regular soldier. After years living in Cap’s shadow, Barnes was determined to prove himself as a man. He was eventually assigned to a base on the east coast of England where the Army developed experimental aircraft.

In March 1945, Barnes assisted Captain America with a mission to stop the Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo from launching a bomb-laden drone plane. Too late to prevent the launch, the heroes leaped aboard the plane to try to sabotage it. Unfortunately, the craft exploded, and Bucky Barnes was killed instantly.

The American government covered up Bucky’s death, as well as the apparent demise of Captain America, and replaced each of them with new recruits. The truth about the life and death of James Buchanan Barnes would not be revealed for more than a decade.


Bucky (II)

First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #30 (June 1976)
Years Active: 1945–1949

Fred Davis, a former batboy for the New York Yankees, was selected to become the new Bucky after the death of James Buchanan Barnes, and was teamed up with the new Captain America, William Nasland. In 1942, Davis had helped the original Bucky form the Liberty Legion by impersonating the young hero, and it was his physical resemblance to Barnes that inspired the government to choose him to be the new Bucky. After receiving a brief period of intensive training, the pair was sent to battle Japanese forces in the Pacific. After the end of the war, Davis joined Nasland as one of the founding members of the All-Winners Squad, alongside former members of the Invaders.

In 1946, William Nasland was killed while fighting the evil android Adam-II, and Jeffrey Mace, formerly known as the Patriot, took over the role of Captain America. Davis revealed to Mace that he was not the original Bucky, nor had Nasland been the original Captain America, a fact unknown to the public. Davis continued to play Bucky to Mace’s Captain America until being crippled by a gunshot wound in 1949.

Shortly after Davis was forced to retire from crimefighting, his teammate Toro disappeared following the seeming death of the Human Torch, so the All-Winners Squad was officially disbanded.


The Human Torch

First Appearance: Marvel Comics #1 (November 1939)
Years Active: 1939–1949, 1953–1955, 1975 to the present

The Human Torch was an android created in 1939 by Professor Phineas T. Horton. Due to a flaw in his chemical composition, the android burst into flames when he came in contact with air, and so, believing his creation to be a danger to the public, Horton sealed the android in an airtight tomb and buried him deep in the ground. However, the android escaped and was dubbed “the Human Torch” by the news media. The Torch sought only to be of help to humanity and to make a place for himself in society. Distancing himself from Horton, he created a civilian identity under the name “Jim Hammond” and used his fantastic powers to fight crime.

Early on, the Torch met a young circus performer named Thomas “Toro” Raymond, who had a natural immunity to fire. In truth, Toro was a mutant, and meeting the blazing android activated his latent powers. Toro could then “flame on” as well, fly, and project the blazing plasma that surrounded his body. He joined the Torch as his sidekick and shared his adventures. In late 1941, the Human Torch and Toro joined the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, and Bucky to rescue British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from a Nazi assassination attempt. Churchill convinced the heroes to work as a team against the Axis powers and dubbed them “the Invaders.”

The Human Torch and Toro served as members of the Invaders throughout the war. In 1945, as the Axis powers were collapsing, the pair tracked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to his underground bunker in Berlin and incinerated him. Later, when the war was over, the Torch and Toro joined the other members of the Invaders in forming the All-Winners Squad, dedicated to fighting domestic crime rather than engaging in military operations. Then, in 1949, a gang of criminals managed to douse both the Torch and Toro with a chemical that neutralized their powers. Being an android, the Torch was rendered inert, and, thinking the hero was dead, the criminals buried him in the Nevada desert.

Some four years later, the Human Torch was reactivated by an atomic bomb test. He burst from his grave, his powers fully restored, and was soon reunited with Toro, whom he rescued from the Soviets. They resumed their crimefighting crusade, but by 1955, the Torch realized that the radiation he had been exposed to was causing him to lose control of his powers. He returned to the desert and attempted to destroy himself by going super-nova. However, he was merely once more rendered inert. The Torch remained in this deactivated state, lost in the desert, for nearly eight years, until he was discovered by the criminal mastermind known as the Mad Thinker. An expert in robots and androids, the Thinker repaired the Torch in order to use him against the Fantastic Four. Thus, the Torch battled Johnny Storm, a blazing superhero who had named himself the Human Torch in honor of the original. Deactivated again at the end of the battle, the Torch would be given a new lease on life a decade later when he was found by the Avengers.


Toro

First Appearance: Human Torch #2 (Fall 1940)
Years Active: 1940–1955

Thomas Raymond, nicknamed “Toro,” was an orphan who worked as a circus performer, due to a mysterious natural immunity to flame. In truth, Raymond was a mutant with latent pyrotechnic abilities. These powers manifested themselves when he came into contact with the android crimefighter the Human Torch. Since his parents had been killed by one of the Torch’s enemies, the Asbestos Lady, Raymond joined the Torch on his crusade against crime, learning to use and control his mutant abilities.

In late 1941, Toro joined the Human Torch when they teamed up with the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, and Bucky to save British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from a Nazi assassin. Churchill convinced the heroes to work as a team against the Axis powers and dubbed them “the Invaders.” Toro served as member of the Invaders throughout the war, also joining Bucky in a splinter group called the Kid Commandos when they met the super-powered teenagers Gwenny Lou Sabuki and David Mitchell, who acted as the Golden Girl and the Human Top, respectively. In the spring of 1945, Toro helped the Human Torch track Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to his underground bunker in Berlin, where the Torch incinerated him.

After the war, Toro joined the other members of the Invaders in forming the All-Winners Squad, in order to fight crime rather than enemy agents, as well as continuing as the Human Torch’s junior partner. He took a brief leave of absence to care for his dying foster mother, and in 1949, soon after he returned to action, he and the Torch encountered a gang of criminals who doused them with a special chemical that neutralized their powers and paralyzed them. The criminals buried the Torch, believing him dead, and turned Toro over to Soviet agents, who took him behind the Iron Curtain and brainwashed him. With the disappearance of the Torch and Toro, the All-Winners Squad officially disbanded. For four years, Toro faithfully served his communist masters.

In mid-1953, the Human Torch returned and rescued Toro from the Soviets. They resumed their crimefighting crusade for about two years, until the Torch realized that he was losing control of his flame and becoming a danger to the public. After the Human Torch left for good, Thomas Raymond retired permanently and foreswore ever using his powers again. Eventually, he married a woman named Anne and lived a normal life.

About a decade later, the Human Torch was discovered by the criminal mastermind known as the Mad Thinker, who tried to use the former hero as a pawn in his schemes. The Torch was seemingly killed again, and this time was treated to a proper funeral, which Thomas Raymond attended. However, he was kidnapped by the Mad Thinker, who forced him to attack his former teammate, the Sub-Mariner. Once freed from the Thinker’s brainwashing, Toro led the Sub-Mariner back to the villain’s headquarters, but was killed in the ensuing battle.


The Sub-Mariner

First Appearance: Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 (1939)
Years Active: 1939–1950, 1962 to the present

Namor was born both a hybrid and mutant, the son of Princess Fen of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis and surface-dwelling ship captain Leonard McKenzie. Raised in Atlantis, Prince Namor held a grudge against the surface people for the perpetual havoc they seemed to wreak on the oceans in general and Atlantis in particular. When he reached manhood, he attacked New York City for the first time, and though he called himself Prince Namor, the Avenging Son, he was dubbed “the Sub-Mariner” by the press. After meeting the New York policewoman Betty Dean, Namor developed an uneasy accord with the surface world, though he would occasionally engage in spectacular battles with the android hero the Human Torch. After Namor decided to oppose the Axis powers in the Second World War, he was cheered as a hero in Allied countries, even in New York, which had tasted his wrath in the past.

In late 1941, Namor joined his former sparring partner, the Human Torch, along with Captain America and the sidekicks Bucky and Toro, in saving British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from a Nazi assassin. Churchill convinced the heroes to work together as a team to fight for the Allied cause and dubbed them “the Invaders.” The Sub-Mariner served as a member of the Invaders for the duration of the war. When the Axis powers were defeated in 1945, Namor returned to Atlantis, but his relationship with Betty Dean caused him to remain involved in the affairs of the surface world. Two years later, Namor met another hybrid between Homo sapiens and Homo mermanus, his cousin Aquaria Nautica Neptunia, who soon adopted the identity of Namora, “the avenging daughter,” and had numerous adventures both above and below the surface of the oceans.

Then, in 1950, the Sub-Mariner and the Atlanteans were attacked by the villain Paul Destine, who wielded the power of the Serpent Crown and called himself Destiny. Unable to withstand Destine’s superhuman powers, Namor’s mother and grandfather, Emperor Thakorr, were killed and the Atlantean people were scattered to the seven seas. Namor was stripped of his memory and sent to live as a bum in New York, the city he had often tried to conquer. He lived as a drunken derelict for twelve years until having his memory partially restored by the Fantastic Four. Namor then resumed his tempestuous relationship with the surface world while trying to fulfill his birthright as the ruler of Atlantis.


Namora

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #82 (May 1947)
Years Active: 1947–1950

Aquaria Nautica Neptunia of the undersea city of Maritanis, was, like her cousin Prince Namor of Atlantis, a mutant hybrid between Homo sapiens and Homo mermanus, her water-breathing father having fallen in love with a surface-dwelling woman. When her hometown was destroyed in 1947 by a gang of criminals using the nuclear torpedoes from a stolen submarine, she adopted the name “Namora,” meaning “the avenging daughter,” and sought vengeance, aided by her cousin, Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

Subsequently, Namora had numerous adventures, both above and below the surface of the oceans, sometimes working with the Sub-Mariner and sometimes working alone. At some point, she married an Atlantean named Talan and the couple immigrated to the city of Lemuria in the Pacific Ocean. Eventually abandoning her adventures to devote herself to her life with her husband, Namora discovered she was unable to get pregnant, which caused a great strain on their relationship. Shortly after the devastation of Atlantis in 1950, she sought out the Atlantean geneticist Vyrra and convinced him to clone her. The resulting baby girl was named Namorita, and was passed off as the natural daughter of Namora and Talan. Sometime later, Namora was murdered by the wicked Lemurian princess Llyra, who wanted Talan for herself.


The Whizzer

First Appearance: USA Comics #1 (August 1941)
Years Active: 1941–1948, 1967–1971

Robert Frank was the son of research scientist Dr. Emil Frank, who was working deep in the jungles of Africa. When young Bob was bitten by a venomous cobra, Dr. Frank watched in horror as the cobra was suddenly killed by a mongoose, which itself was fatally injured in the fray. Desperate, Dr. Frank recalled an old wives’ tale about mongoose blood and injected his dying son with a generous amount. Somehow, the mongoose blood activated Bob’s latent mutant powers, the resultant physiological changes burning the cobra venom out of his system and granting him superhuman speed. Unfortunately, Dr. Frank’s heart was too weak to withstand the stress, and he died of a massive heart attack.

Robert Frank returned to the United States and at first planned to follow in his father’s footsteps as a research scientist. However, as he gained mastery over his super-speed, he decided instead to join the growing crop of costumed adventurers. He fashioned a simple yellow and blue outfit, named himself “the Whizzer,” and sped off to fight crime and injustice. Able to cover a wide territory by dint of his speed, the Whizzer found himself often dealing with situations in ghetto neighborhoods, where other heroes rarely ventured.

In 1942, after America’s entrance into the Second World War, the Whizzer met the caped heroine known as Miss America when they both went after the same group of Nazi saboteurs. Together, they responded to a call for help from Captain America’s sidekick Bucky, who was assembling a team of superheroes to rescue the Invaders, who had been captured by the Red Skull. This team, dubbed the Liberty Legion, decided to remain together after their initial success, in order to protect the American homefront while the Invaders battled the Axis powers abroad. Several months later, however, both the Whizzer and Miss America were invited to join the Invaders, and they served as members of that team until the end of the war.

Following the Allied victory, the Whizzer joined his fellow Invaders in becoming a founding member of the All-Winners Squad, the premiere postwar superhero team. By this point, he and Miss America, a.k.a. Madeline Joyce, had revealed their true identities to each other and begun a romantic relationship. In 1948, Miss America got pregnant, and so she and the Whizzer retired their costumed identities and were married. In order to make ends meet, they took jobs guarding a nuclear research station, where an accident irradiated Madeline and her unborn child. When the baby was born months later, he proved to be a dangerously radioactive mutant, and was taken by the government to be placed in suspended animation until a treatment could be devised. Robert and Madeline Frank were distraught.

Taking a generous government pension, the Franks set off to travel the world, hoping to distract themselves from their grief about their son, Robert Junior. In the summer of 1949, Madeline became pregnant again, and soon began to experience serious complications. The following March, as Madeline’s pregnancy came to term, the couple sought help at the mysterious citadel of advanced science located on Wundagore Mountain in the tiny Balkan nation of Transia. They met the man known as the High Evolutionary, who agreed to do what he could to help them. Sadly, Madeline died in childbirth. The midwife, a super-evolved cow-woman named Bova, presented Robert Frank with infant twins, born and abandoned days earlier, but overcome with grief, he fled Wundagore as fast as his superhuman speed could take him. Unable to cope with so much personal tragedy, Frank became a derelict and aimless drifter for the next 17 years.

Eventually, Frank read reports of the young mutant superheroes Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, and convinced himself that they were his children. He sought them out and told them his story. Uncertain of their own origins, the pair accepted Frank as their long-lost father. Subsequently, he associated with the Avengers while trying to regain custody of his son from the government. Eventually, Frank learned that the nuclear accident which led to so much tragedy had in fact been intentionally caused by an old enemy from his days in the All-Winners Squad, the would-be world conqueror Isbisa. The Whizzer met Isbisa for a final showdown, and perished in the battle, shortly after learning that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were not his children after all.


Miss America

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (November 1943)
Years Active: 1942–1948

Madeline Joyce was the ward of her uncle, James Bennett, who was financing a study of electrical energy at a converted lighthouse in New England. While visiting the lighthouse, she snuck into the lab one night to satisfy her curiosity. A violent thunderstorm was raging outside, and the laboratory was struck by lightning while Joyce was inside, sending a massive jolt of energy through her body. Upon recovering, she discovered she had gained superhuman powers. Inspired by the recent appearance of Captain America, she decided to use her abilities to protect her home from Nazi spies and saboteurs. She designed a red and blue costume and named herself “Miss America.”

Soon after, Joyce met the super-speedster called the Whizzer when they both went after the same group of Nazi saboteurs. Together, they responded to a call for help from Captain America’s sidekick Bucky, who was assembling a team of superheroes to rescue the Invaders after they had been captured by the Red Skull. This team, dubbed the Liberty Legion, decided to remain together after their initial success, in order to protect the American homefront while the Invaders battled the Axis powers abroad. Several months later, however, both Miss America and the Whizzer were invited to join the Invaders, and they served as members of that team for the duration.

After the war, Miss America became a founding member of the All-Winners Squad, along with her teammates in the Invaders, and turned her attention to fighting crime. By this point, she and the Whizzer, a.k.a. Robert Frank, had revealed their true identities to each other and begun a romantic relationship. In 1948, Joyce got pregnant, so she and the Whizzer retired their costumed identities and were married. In order to make ends meet, they took jobs guarding a nuclear research station, where an accident irradiated Madeline Frank and her unborn child. When the baby was born months later, he proved to be a dangerously radioactive mutant, and was taken by the government to be placed in suspended animation until a treatment could be devised. The Franks were devastated.

Taking a generous government pension, the Franks set off to travel the world, hoping to distract themselves from their grief about their son, Robert Junior. In the summer of 1949, Frank became pregnant again, and soon began to experience serious complications. The following March, as Frank’s pregnancy came to term, the couple sought help at the mysterious citadel of advanced science located on Wundagore Mountain in the tiny Balkan nation of Transia. They met the man known as the High Evolutionary, who agreed to do what he could to help them. A super-evolved cow-woman named Bova served as midwife, and did everything possible to ease Frank’s suffering. Unfortunately, the baby was stillborn, and Madeline Frank died in childbirth.


Union Jack

First Appearance: Invaders #7 (July 1976)
Years Active: 1915–1918

Montgomery Falsworth was a British nobleman, who became Lord Falsworth upon the death of his father. During World War I, stirred by a patriotic fervor, he designed a costume based upon his nation’s flag and became the shadowy government agent Union Jack. His unorthodox tactics scored many victories over the Germans and their allies. His success inspired a few others to follow his example, and they briefly formed a team called Freedom’s Five. His main nemesis during the Great War proved to be his own brother, the vampire known as Baron Blood, who served the German intelligence services for his own purposes. Shortly after the end of the war, Lord Falsworth gave up being the Union Jack and returned to civilian life.

However, during World War II, Lord Falsworth briefly assumed the identity of Union Jack again to aid the Invaders in battling Baron Blood. In the course of the battle, Lord Falsworth was crippled. However, his daughter Jacqueline became the superheroine Spitfire, and his son Brian assumed the identity of Union Jack to carry on in his stead. Lord Falsworth lived to be quite elderly, and died in 1970 while helping Captain America end the threat of Baron Blood once and for all.


Union Jack (II)

First Appearance: Invaders #18 (July 1977)
Years Active: 1942–1945

Brian Falsworth was the son of the English nobleman Montgomery, Lord Falsworth, who had served as the costumed commando Union Jack during World War I. However, in 1939, Falsworth disagreed with his father regarding Britain’s policy towards Nazi Germany, believing Hitler was doing good things for the German people. Falsworth went so far as to travel to Germany with his friend Roger Aubrey, but was shocked to learn the truth about the Third Reich. Still in the country when war was officially declared, the friends were arrested and sent to separate prison camps.

At the concentration camp where he was imprisoned, Falsworth met a German biochemist named Professor Eric Schmitt, who had been jailed for his refusal to cooperate with the Nazi regime. Schmitt had been forced to work on developing his own version of the super-soldier serum, based on notes stolen by Nazi spies from the late Dr. Abraham Erskine. Schmitt had succeeded, but did not want the Nazis to gain the formula. Instead, he administered the serum to Falsworth, who suddenly found his natural abilities enhanced to peak performance. Schmitt was killed, but Falsworth smashed his way out of the camp, adopted a bizarre costume, and attacked the German Army as “the Mighty Destroyer.”

In time, Falsworth met up with the Invaders, one of whom was his younger sister Jacqueline. He abandoned the identity of the Mighty Destroyer when he inherited the mantle of the Union Jack from his father, and served with the Invaders for a brief period. Falsworth remained active as the Union Jack until the end of the war in 1945. Gradually, the effects of Schmitt’s super-soldier serum wore off, and soon after the war, Falsworth’s body had returned to its natural state. Then, in 1953, he was killed in an automobile accident.


Spitfire

First Appearance: Invaders #7 (July 1976)
Years Active: 1942–1945

Jacqueline Falsworth was the daughter of English nobleman Montgomery, Lord Falsworth. In 1939, her older brother Brian left to tour Nazi Germany, in defiance of his father’s anti-Hitler attitudes. Unfortunately, as soon as war was declared between the two countries, Brian was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Later, in 1942, Falsworth and her father became involved in the exploits of the Allied superhero group the Invaders. After being bitten by the Nazi vampire Baron Blood, she received an emergency blood transfusion from the android Human Torch. Soon afterwards, Falsworth discovered that the combination of the vampire ichor and android blood had, through some unknown means, endowed her with superhuman speed.

Intent on following her father’s example, Falsworth fashioned a costume for herself, took the name “Spitfire,” and volunteered to join the Invaders. She soon discovered her brother Brian was working as the costumed commando the Mighty Destroyer, an identity he abandoned to serve alongside her in the Invaders as the second Union Jack. At the end of the war in 1945, Falsworth retired from adventuring to marry Lord Crichton, with whom she had a son Kenneth. Her powers gradually faded, and by 1950 they had disappeared completely.

As Lady Crichton, she lived a quiet life as an English aristocrat for the next 25 years, seeing the death of her brother in an automobile accident, the death of her husband, and finally the death of her elderly father. In 1975, she arranged a reunion of sorts of the Invaders when the Nazi metahumans Übermensch (Master Man) and Kriegerfrau (Warrior Woman) were finally revived from suspended animation. In the course of the battle, Lady Crichton received another emergency blood transfusion from the android Human Torch, with startling results—her body was rejuvenated to that of a teenager, and her superhuman speed had returned. However, still an old woman mentally, she could not bring herself to return to a life of adventure,but did maintain an association with the Sub-Mariner and his young cousin Namorita.


Teams of the OMU Golden Age


The Invaders

First Appearance: Giant-Size Invaders #1 (June 1975)
Years Active: 1941–1945

When the Nazi metahuman Übermensch, a.k.a. Master Man, menaced British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he was defeated by a quintet of costumed heroes who joined forces for the first time. The group included Captain America and his sidekick Bucky, the Human Torch and his sidekick Toro, and the Sub-Mariner. Churchill convinced the heroes to act as a team to counter the Nazi threat, dubbing them “the Invaders.”

The Invaders were the premiere team of costumed superheroes fighting for the Allied Powers during World War II, forming in late 1941 and really getting rolling after the United States joined the war early in 1942. They operated primarily in the European theater of operations, performing occasional missions in Asia or elsewhere, including the high seas.

At one point, the Invaders were captured and brainwashed by the Red Skull. Bucky escaped capture and formed a new team of heroes to come to the rescue. This second team, known as the Liberty Legion, decided to focus on protecting the American homefront from spies and saboteurs. Bucky remained in the Invaders, however.

Later, the Invaders welcomed two British adventurers into its ranks, the original Union Jack, hero of World War I, and his daughter, the super-fast Spitfire. When the Union Jack’s legs were crushed in a battle with his brother, the Nazi vampire called Baron Blood, his son Brian replaced him as the new Union Jack. Bucky and Toro formed a splinter group called the Kid Commandos after meeting super-powered teenagers Gwenny Lou Sabuki and David Mitchell, who acted as the Golden Girl and the Human Top, respectively. Eventually, the Invaders also inducted the former Liberty Legion members Miss America and the Whizzer.

At the end of the war, the Invaders officially disbanded, but soon formed a new team called the All-Winners Squad, which was dedicated to fighting domestic crime rather than engaging in military operations.


The All-Winners Squad

First Appearance: All Winners Comics #19 (Fall 1946)
Years Active: 1946–1949

In the aftermath of World War II, President Harry S. Truman asked the members of the Invaders to form a new team dedicated to fighting crime in the United States, and so they formed the All-Winners Squad. The founding members were the Human Torch and his sidekick Toro, the Sub-Mariner, the Whizzer and Miss America, and the second Captain America (William Nasland) and his sidekick, the second Bucky (Fred Davis). The Sub-Mariner’s post-war duties in Atlantis caused his participation in team activities to be sporadic, however.

In 1946, the team fought menaces such as Isbisa, a would-be world conqueror, and a female crime boss called Madame Death and her time-traveling accomplice “Future Man.” Tragedy struck the team when William Nasland was killed during a fight in Boston with the evil android Adam-II, while protecting the up-and-coming politician John F. Kennedy. Jeffrey Mace, the former Liberty Legion member known as the Patriot, was involved in this mission, and was immediately tapped to become the third Captain America. The public was unaware of the switch, and Mace became a member in good standing of the team.

In 1948, Miss America accidentally got pregnant by her lover, the Whizzer. They retired from the team and got married, finding employment working security at a nuclear research station. Unfortunately, their old enemy Isbisa escaped from jail and caused an accident that irradiated Miss America. Her baby was later born a dangerously radioactive mutant, and the pair never suspected Isbisa’s involvement.

The remaining members of the All-Winners Squad found themselves being pulled in different directions by the rapidly-changing society of postwar America, and in the summer of 1949, after the sudden disappearance of the Human Torch and Toro, the team officially disbanded.


The Liberty Legion

First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #29 (April 1976)
Years Active: 1942–1945

The Liberty Legion was formed by Captain America’s sidekick Bucky in 1942 in order to rescue the Invaders, who had been captured and brainwashed by the Red Skull. The founding members of the team were the Blue Diamond, Jack Frost, Miss America, the Patriot, Red Raven, the Thin Man, and the Whizzer. Calling themselves the Liberty Legion, they decided to remain as a team after rescuing the Invaders, and dedicated themselves to protecting the American homefront from crime, spies, and saboteurs for the duration of the war.

Later in 1942, Miss America and the Whizzer left the team to join the Invaders. In 1944, Red Raven quit to return to the hidden island of the Bird-People. The remaining members stayed together until the conclusion of the war in the summer of 1945, and then disbanded.


Next Issue: The Survivors!


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