Invasion! I was shocked when I heard the news that the CW DC shows were calling their November crossover Invasion. I was even more surprised when they weren’t just using the name for the crossover but also the theme of the 1988 DC event. I assumed that Invasion was a forgotten event in the long line of forgotten DC events, like Millennium or Armageddon 2000 or Zero Hour or, well you get the picture. After the success of Crisis on Infinite Earths it became standard practice for DC to roll out an event every year and luckily in 1988 they turned to Keith Giffen to craft what would become known as Invasion.
Invasion was an entertaining event crossover that took up three months of the DC universe. Unlike Crisis, which was released monthly for a year Invasion were 3 massive 80 page books released monthly with each DC comic then incorporating the story into their own book to broaden the event. Unlike Crisis if you did not read the ancillary titles the main book had some missing plot points that left the reader wondering what had happened and how characters had moved around after the previous issue. Other then that Invasion is an enjoyable read.
Keith Giffen is, in my opinion, an under-appreciated creator and his contribution to the comic medium is extensive. His time on Legion of Superheroes, first as artist and later as writer/artist is one of the highlights of the Legion’s long run. I loved his Ambush Bug tales of the ‘80s and his Justice League work is an all time great. He was the perfect choice to create and plot Invasion and his fellow creators weren’t too shabby in their own right. Joining Giffen was the great Bill Mantlo, a longtime Marvel scribe who helped create Rocket Raccoon and was a master storyteller and had an incredible gift of giving life and depth to licensed properties such as Rom: Space Knight and Micronauts. A young Todd McFarlane drew issues #1 and #2 with help from Giffen himself on issue #2 and Bart Sears was brought in to wrap up the book with issue #3 as McFarlane moved over to Marvel and Amazing Spider-Man as the book was still in production. The switch isn’t that jarring and with Giffen doing the plotting everything ties together neatly.
At the core of Invasion is the fear of the potential Earth has with all of its super powered beings and the ‘metagene’ that gifts so many humans with incredible powers. The race known as the Dominators decide that it is in their best interest to create an Alliance of worlds to purge the Earth of all life. Joining the Dominators are the warlike Khunds, the shape shifting Durlans, the fascist Thanagarians, the thuggish Citadel, the weapon smiths Okaara, the sadistic Psion, and the world conquering Gil Dishpan. The Daxamites agree to be observers but are unwilling to participate in the actual war.
Book 1 is titled Invasion! the Alien Alliance and that is exactly what it is as the focus of the book is on the Dominators and their orchestrating the other alien races to join them in the destruction of Earth. If you are not a long time DC fan there was very little in this book that was recognizable. The main actors are the alien races, many of them created in the Green Lantern books, and their machinations. We have an appearance of Adam Strange as he turns himself over to the Alliance to spy on them as well as spare his adopted planet Rann. The Omega Men are featured but do not fare well as their book is cancelled coming out of the Invasion event, replaced with L.E.G.I.O.N 89. If you were a Green Lantern fan you also witnessed the death of many of the corps, who were without their rings in this time period after the destruction of the central battery to help save the universe. By the end of book 1 the Alliance has decimated Australia and turned it into their beachhead. Even though there is very little DC proper in the book it was still engaging enough and with the vast destruction at the end of the book the reader no doubt wanted to see the retaliation, which was the focus of Book 2.
Book 2 was titled Invasion! Battleground Earth and it is 80 pages of super hero and super villain fighting in defense of the Earth. The heroes retaliate after the Dominators inform the world they will leave if the population of Earth will turn over all of its super heroes. Earth promptly tells them to go to hell. Book 2 was my favorite issue as Todd McFarlane’s depiction of the DC heroes and villains was so dynamic and beautiful. His Superman was awe inspiring, especially when he engages in battle with the Daximites, who are gifted with Superman like powers from the yellow sun. The main problem with Book 2 is that it jumps around a lot to various locales as the heroes retaliate but those actual battles took place in their own titles and at the time I did not have enough allowance money to pick up every book being published. By the end of Book 2 the tide has turned at the Alliance is at an end, especially after the Daximites change sides after Superman saves them from the lead poisoning their race suffers from.
Book 3 was titled Invasion! World Without Heroes as the book begins with Earth rebuilding and the heroes popularity at an all time high. Yet a young Dominator trying to earn a bigger circle on his forehead uses a bomb to counter the metagene causing almost every human carrying it to loose control of their powers and become deathly ill. It is left to the street level vigilantes like Batman and Blue Beetle to maintain order while a small team comprised of Aliens (the Martian Manhunter & Superman), Green Lanterns Guy Gardner & Hal Jordan, Robotman from the Doom Patrol, and other non meta heroes to travel to the home of the Dominators and find the cure. They link up with the remnants of the Omega Men and travel across the universe and obtain the cure just in time to save many heroes lives. The ramifications of the Metagene bomb would be felt throughout the DC universe as DC used it as a way to clean house of unsuccessful heroes and books as well to morph characters into a different power set. Honestly Book 3 wasn’t needed as the entire Invasion was wrapped up by the end of Book 2 but I understand the want to prolong the event and have another large battle amongst hero and alien.
I don’t know how much of Invasion the CW is going to use in their shows but I know the Dominators will be rearing their ugly heads and with the Daximite Mon-El now on Supergirl I can only imagine they are going to stay somewhat true to the 1988 event. Luckily DC has recently put Invasion back into print and it is available online through Comixology. It is a fun read and as fans of the upcoming crossover prepare their DVR’s it would be worthwhile to go back and read the source material.