What If the Invaders had stayed together?
What If takes a different direction this week by giving us a chilling tale of alternate realities that absolutely nobody cares about. Come on, Marvel. You’re only four issues in, you can’t give us an X-Men story or something?
Anyway, we open on a poorly drawn Captain America and Bucky doing battle with Baron Zemo in their infamous last battle of World War 2. Zemo handily defeats them both with his flare gun that fires robots and does other things and then dresses the two of them in military fatigues and ties them to a plane. The reason for this has something to do with Zemo being angry that there is a pink mask glued to his face which is understandable.
Suddenly, Cap’s shield appears from nowhere and frees the two heroes. This is never explained and the Watcher seems to be expecting it so clearly whatever the hell happend, it’s on me to figure it out. I dunno, guys. I know my Marvel comics pretty well and I have no idea what happened. Anyway, the plane is launched, Cap falls into the ocean to be frozen and defrosted in the sixties and Bucky dies. Forever.
Next we get to see what the rest of the Invaders are doing. It’s all pretty boring with the exception of the Original Robot Human Torch and his half-naked buddy, Toro who are trying to save Hitler from shooting himself. This is accompanied by the hilarious picture of Hitler with a gun to his head, looking really embarrassed. You can also make out the dead legs of Eva Braun. Torch and Toro bust in and Hitler tries to blow up the building, but Team Fire Guy is too quick for him and they SET HIM THE FUCK ON FIRE. What’s left is a pile of smoldering scabby horror with an arm sticking out of it. It’s HILARIOUS.
So the Fire Guy Express meet up with the rest of the boring Invaders and head back to Washington, DC where President Truman can congratulate everyone on that war they won. Between Toro and Namor, we are then treated to the former President sitting around a war table with a lot of mostly naked dudes. They were truly the greatest generation.
So Truman tells everyone that he’s just recieved word that Cap and Bucky are dead. Luckily, he has spares. Out comes new Cap and Bucky played by the Spirit of ‘76 (Not to be confused with the regular Spirit who was created by Will Eisner and doesn’t suck) and… some kid who used to play baseball and likes Bucky. America is saved! Truman also brings out Ms. America and the Whizzer (whom I was delighted to learn apparently got his powers from a mongoose!) and suggests that they all team up and defend America from Japan. Then he drops a couple of bombs on Japan, winning the war and giving birth to Marvel Godzilla.
Post war, the President invites the Invaders to continue fighting for America, but… y’know, maybe don’t call yourselves the Invaders. Since we’re not supposed to be invading things anymore. They change their name to the All-Winners Squad which is terrible but whatever, I’m just the guy who reviews old comics and am forbidden to intervene. That done, Torch and Toro take a vacation, Worf-style so Torch can visit his inventor.
Torch reveals his origin story, which includes being built by some scientist named Professor Horton. Horton tried to create a perfect android but failed when the android instantly caught fire, a rather serious design flaw. He then tried to use his incredibly dangerous creation for profit and the Torch fled. Nice on, Prof. Way to lose the PERPETUALLY ON-FIRE MAN.
Torch and Toro arrive at Horton’s home in Boston but find that something is amiss when they discover that the professor is actually a crappy robot. They are then captured by the Torch’s brother he never knew he had, Adam-II. Adam-II is a weird looking red faced guy with a big steel mohawk and a fondness for creating non-crappy robots, outdoing his father on basically all counts. Adam-II knocks the robot and the naked teenager out and throws them in a big metal room with the real professor Horton. Adam-II then begins filling the room with water in an effort to drown his android brother.
It’s not a great plan.
Luckily, the spouting water manages to miss Torch’s arms and torso (It’s right in the book. “Thankfully, the spouting water missed my arms and torso!”) and he is able to escape and also summon another American looking super hero who just happened to be in the area, the Patriot. Patriot frees everyone who wasn’t already freed and then Professor Horton explains that Adam-II is planning to replace a local Boston congressperson. The (sigh) All-Winners Squad shows up (Including the new glasses-wearing-for-some-reason Ms America, which I am pretty into.) and everyone grabs a newspaper and runs off to look for their respective congressman to check for robot impersonation.
Fake Cap and Fake Bucky manage to pull JFK and OF COURSE, IT’S HIM, he’s the only one you’ve heard of. They’re able to identify JFK as a robot because of his fake silver robot eyes. “Blast!” says Adam-II who is also there, further tipping Cap and Bucky off that this might be the right place. “I forgot to add proper eyes in my haste!”
Cap and Bucky fight some more androids, (a theme in this issue) and then Cap summons the All-Winners Guys with a flare stick he keeps in his fake shield. The All-Winners arrive and Adam-II makes a break for it by stealing JFK’s car and immediately crashing it into a building. Then he burns to death and explodes. Seriously. So Cap shows up and reveals that he’s not actually Cap. Which we already knew. But he’s also not the Spirit of ‘76, he’s Patriot who FOUND the Spirit of ‘76 who was DRESSED as Cap and then Spirit of ‘76 died of severe android beatings and the Patriot stripped him and put on his Cap uniform so that Captain America could force Adam-II to crash JFK’s limo.Then everyone cries. This comic is nuts.