Ever since the 1980s, comic book companies have loved crossovers.
The publishers call it an opportunity for epic story arcs. Fans have found it an excuse to drive up sales. Certain crossovers have been amazing (Secret Wars). Others have been abysmal (Secret Wars II). My favorite crossover/miniseries of all-time is Invasion! by DC Comics and I would like to tell you more about it.
It’s an alien invasion story. I suppose that doesn’t come as much of a surprise as I have always enjoyed the trope of our entire world having to band together in order to fend off an attack from space. This has been fun for me on at least a small level, no matter how cheesy or clichéd the fare. It’s doubly fun if there are superheroes involved. And it was these said superheroes that were the impetus of the conflict.
An alien race known as The Dominators, beings drawn to look very much like the 1950s concept of aliens, saw how Earth was kicking out these pesky super-powered beings, or “metahumans” as they were termed. The Dominators coolly deduced that metahumans might become a threat. The decision was made to eliminate Earth’s heroes before that could happen. The Dominators themselves lacked the physical prowess to carry out such a military campaign. Therefore, they cobbled together an Alliance of other alien races, convincing them that it would be in their interests as well to wipe out super beings. The Dominators had the brains, everybody else had the brawn. The Alliance included:
The Thanagarians—the race that Hawkman belongs to, now under the rule of a tyrannical despot. They would serve as the Alliance air force.
The Gil’Dishpan—aquatic beings that breathe methane and inhabit armored and armed cybernetic shells.
The Okaarans—tusked warriors who would serve as the weaponsmiths for the Alliance.
The Citadelians—clone monsters that would administrate the Alliance’s vast Starlag prisons.
The Daxamites—observers and scientific advisors.
The Khund—brutish, stocky, stubby aliens who live for combat and have centuries of experience with interplanetary war. Sort of the "Klingons" of the outfit. The Khunds would make up the bulk of the invasion force.
The ensuing invasion saw nearly every single superhero (and villain in a few cases) fighting for the continued survival of Earth. And when I say every, I do mean every. Superman played a major role as one might expect, as did Captain Atom, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, and so on and so forth down the line. The worldwide battle, as one reviewer on Amazon astutely observed, has a similar tone to Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising in that interspersed with the super-powered beings are human armed forces, fighting to save their home. This is what crossovers should be in my opinion. Epic. Global, if not galactic in scale. Adding to my enjoyment is the halcyon time period in which Invasion took place: the late 1980s. That means Keith Giffen’s comedic version of the Justice League, Guy Gardner being an ass, Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, and a recently revamped Superman. And who could forget the headline of The Daily Planet? “Earth To Aliens: ‘Drop Dead!’” Classic.
Plus, Invasion! featured artist Todd McFarlane at the top of his game and writing by Bill Mantlo, one of my favorite comics writers ever. And it's superheroes during wartime. Does it get any better?
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