‘Invaders’: When the Good Guys Go Bad
Even legends stumble…
However, they hardly can claim purity themselves. Several of them, even Captain America himself, have strayed from the path of righteousness now and then and betrayed one another in doing so. We here at Marvel.com present some of those moments to you now. Not to shame, but to educate.
While fans might immediately think of Secret Empire when considering Cap’s heel turns, that, alas, has proven hardly the first time Captain America has gone bad. Heck, he has even thrown in with the Red Skull and other highly evil organizations before then.
Take, for example, TALES OF SUSPENSE #66-68. In this titanic triplicate, Cap has been seized and brainwashed by the Red Skull. As a result, he abandons Bucky Barnes to a firing squad and sets out on a mission to land in London alongside Nazi troopers in the midst of World War II.
Bucky, having sparked a prison riot and escaped, reaches Steve Rogers just before the Captain attempts to assassinate the head of the Allied Forces. Barnes does his best to break the mental hold Skull has put on Cap, but he simply cannot. As issue #67 ends, Rogers shoves his partner aside, takes aim, and fires.
Ultimately, of course, our hero comes to his senses in the next issue, just in time to jerk the pistol wide, saving the Allied general’s life. However, there can be no doubt that, for a time, Rogers had been a pawn and dedicated soldier of the Third Reich.
Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier
Just because Bucky ended up the hero of the story above, saving Captain America and the British war effort in a single speech, do not think he has not done wrong in his time.
While Cap spent a relatively quiet time after World War II “relaxing” on ice in the ocean, Bucky Barnes found himself in Communist Russia being brainwashed, sent out on missions, brainwashed again, and kept in cryogenic stasis in between missions. He became, in essence, the most dangerous assassin of the Cold War. If not in the entire world, certainly the most dangerous on the U.S.S.R.’s roster.
While Captain America certainly would not have approved of his former partner’s actions as the Winter Soldier, it would not be until 2004's CAPTAIN AMERICA that the Soldier would truly have to betray his Invader teammate. He kills hundreds in Philadelphia, snags the Cosmic Cube, and abducts Sharon Carter, all in one brazen attack.
As Bucky once did for Cap, Rogers manages to break Barnes of his programming and set him back on the path of the righteous. Still, the Soldier accumulated a lot of blood on those hands for years before then.
The Human Torch
The android Jim Hammond has suffered more than his fair share over the years since he first joined up with the Invaders. His unique biology and circuitry has been weaponized many times. However, he rarely has been the one carrying out the attacks. Until the TORCH limited series, at least.
In that series, the Mad Thinker realizes, in analyzing Torch’s WWII era partner Toro, that he might be able to control Hammond to wicked ends. Stealing Torch’s body from his resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, Thinker gets to work on resurrecting the slain android. Upon Hammond’s return to life, A.I.M. discovers that he retains none of his memories. That combined with Compound D, a mind control virus, allows Thinker to seize complete control of the Human Torch.
What follows quickly becomes gruesome, with Torch dispatched to rain down fiery death from above and spread the virus further and further. Amongst the targets are Atlantis and Torch’s Invader ally Sub-Mariner. Namor fights gallantly for his kingdom but ultimately succumbs to Compound D.
Eventually Reed Richards finds an antidote and all end up released from Compound D’s sway. However, if not for the Fantastic Four’s intervention, Torch would have been responsible for setting off a pandemic and making his teammate one of the first victims.
That brings us back to where we began: Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Marvel’s first mutant. Invader.
However, he has also proven, time and again, to be an enemy of humanity. Whether it had been by sending a tidal wave to wash away New York City or leading an army that decimated Wakanda, Namor has repeatedly proven himself, at best, an unreliable ally. He has also committed small betrayals, such as, most recently, attempting to kill Stingray alongside other “Defenders of the Deep” despite knowing the oceanographer super hero to be an ally of Captain America. Even after Cap’s admonishment, Namor seems uninterested in apologizing.
In light of this, Namor’s renewed aggression seems less like a betrayal and more like a man revealing his true nature.
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