Invasion 1984! has got to be the most fun I’ve had so far in the Treasury of British Comics line. In fact, this book reminded me why I buy these things in the first place. It’s not only damn near perfect but it’s also violent as hell.
Invasion 1984! first appeared in Battle!, the war comic line in the United Kingdom. The story is simple enough. A group of samurai skeleton aliens invade earth and try to wipe out the population. The only thing standing in their way? A linguistics professor called Ed Lomax and a military unit known as Storm Squad.
What makes it effective is John Wagner and Alan Grant’s storytelling (writing here under the pseudonym R. Clark) strengthened by British comics legend Eric Bradbury. It’s the British comics dream team. The story is incredibly structured and it’s actually quite minimalist. There are no complicated plot devices here, various threads, or unnecessary fat. It’s in your face, to the point, and very satisfying.
I’ve said this many times but Eric Bradbury is a British master artist and it’s an absolute crime that we don’t know him State side. His character and machine designs alone are worth picking up this book. But his layouts are the true star here. Again, there is no unnecessary fat and Bradbury keeps the panels to a minimum and lets the whole thing breathe. He’s a master at storytelling. And after seeing a lot of his stuff now, you can tell he just absolutely lets loose on this thing. Everything is turned up to eleven.
And this thing is non stop and crazy violent. Heads get chopped off, Aliens blow the shit out of people, and people die in horrible ways. When I dove into The Thirteenth Floor one of the comments in the book was that they chose Wagner and Grant because they were pros at getting things past the sensors. Well here they are absolute masters at it. I have an idea that British comics were pretty clean and the censors quite strict in those days, so it’s very interesting to see the level of violence here. Especially when you don’t have the excuse of using violence for historical accuracy.
One common thread I find in reading these books is that they show up in some future movie. When you read this book, you’ll notice a lot of similarities with a small budget film called Independence Day that arrived much later. It’s very obvious that most of the major plot points in the film are ripped straight out of Invasion 1984!. I don’t know what I think about that but it really doesn’t matter. Because this is much more satisfying and fun.
If one comment could be made from a non British perspective is that I found Storm Squad very interesting. I wonder if it sums up the British psyche when it comes to war? There’s a lot of self sacrifice in these pages and the perceived glory that comes with it. Especially being able to die in battle. I couldn’t help but think of those old World War 1 and 2 movies about thankless heroic deeds done by British heroic teams. And the team usually doesn’t usually make it out at the end. And how does Storm Squad fare? Well buy it and find out.
Finally, another aspect I really enjoyed about this print is that Rebellion decided to pepper the original colored covers throughout the book. I really preferred that rather than collecting them in the back, which is what they’ve usually done. It does enhance the reading experience and I hope more publications make use of that in the future.
If I could point to one book that perfectly sums up what British comics are, it’s Invasion 1984!. This is definitely what I would put in any newcomer’s hands.
Mega City Book Club – Episode 101 – Invasion 1984!