Over the course of the year, Marvel produces numerous “specialty” comics for various companies, and concerns. This is one such comic, which is the latest in a series of on-going comics that Marvel has produced for the U.S. Armed Forces under the auspices of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). The comic itself is distributed only on U.S. Military bases.
On a hot summer night in August of 1944, near Lourmarin, France, a convoy of German trucks motors along a darkened road as Captain America, Bucky, and a group of U.S. Soldiers watch from their vantage point of the woods. Suddenly the night erupts in a fiery cataclysm as the Human Torch ignites the caravan as Operation Dragon begins.
Cut to 65 years later where a lone Humm-Vee pulls up to the entrance of a military base in Afghanistan. The armored vehicle pulls into the camp and Captain America (Buck Barnes) pops out of the cab, informing that base commander that he is bringing holiday gifts for the soldiers. As Cap and the soldiers begin to offload the Humm-Vee, Buck tells the soldiers about what happened 65 years earlier in France, when he was Cap’s partner.
At the time, he (as Bucky) was working with Cap and the soldiers in an effort to harass the Germans in advance of Operation Dragon, when a German Panther tank arrived and began shelling the Americans, pinning them down. Cap and Bucky unselfishly threw themselves into an assault on the Panther, in order to distract it from the American soldiers. Unfortunately, as valiant as they are, they are truly outmatched by the mechanized might of the mighty Panther that is until the arrival of Prince Namor, who easily trashes the German beast.
Back in the present, at the Afghani base, Bucky and the soldiers continue to off-load the contents of the Humm-Vee as they question him about the WWII raid. Buck, tells them that after the tank’s destruction, they lead the soldiers and several French presents through the woods until they hooked up with Miss America, who was with a group of locals with the French Resistance. The growing group of refugees continued under the protection of the Invaders until they hooked up with more U.S. Soldiers. It was at this point that Buck and Cap “borrowed” a jeep from the soldiers, in order to head off a mechanized group of advancing Germans.
Again in the present, Buck continues the tale, informing his rapt audience that he and Cap were attacked by a squad of German robots, which began blasting the American team, unfortunately destroying the platoon’s jeep that Bucky had borrowed. Miss America escorts the civilians to safety as Cap & Bucky lead the charge against the German robots. With the help of the French partisans, the U.S. Soldiers, and the timely arrival of The Human Torch, they make short work of Germans.
In Afghanistan, Captain America informs the soldiers that in addition to the items in the back of the Humm-Vee, he wants them to have the Humm-Vee itself, as a reparation to the jeep that he was never able to return in ’44 (because right after Operation Dragon, he and Cap were whisked away to another mission, and then he was incapacitated due to the incident with the missile that presumably had claimed his life.
He winds up with saying that now, after all these years; he finally feels that he has fulfilled his promise to the soldiers from WWII about returning their jeep.
Keeping with the theme of this series, while the appearance of the various superheroes (in this case the original Invaders rather than the New Avengers), it is the members of the U.S. military who are the real stars of this book, while the Marvel superheroes are the “seasoning”.
Having the story straddle WWII and the conflict in Afghanistan makes for a great storyline, as it really ties Bucky into his past life and current incarnation as Captain America (this story obviously takes place prior to the return of Steve Rogers as Cap, and either ignores or simply evades Buck’s status as an “outlaw” Avenger. Still, for the purpose of this story, that tidbit is simply besides the point, and Paul Tobin turns in a solid story.
Even without the presence of Spider-Man this story is worth collecting, and loses only half a point in its rating. The use of the original Invaders was also a nice touch as it links the story (even peripherally) with Marvel’s ongoing 70th anniversary books, and the Marvel Project series.
This comic was produced especially for the U.S. Military, and is only sold on Military bases, but can be acquired easily enough off any of the auction sites, and makes a very nice addition to a serious collector’s library.