Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Scarlet Scarab Strikes!

In 1977, writer Roy Thomas, and the art team of Frank Robbins and Frank Springer, introduced "Marvel's most sensational new super-villain!"...the Scarlet Scarab, in the pages of "The Invaders"! The two part story covered issues #23 and #25 (skipping #24) and saw the Scarab taking on some of Marvel's mightiest heroes...but enough set up, lets jump into the action!

During WWII, Marvel's Invaders fought with the Allied forces for truth, justice, and...uh...well, they helped fight the Axis powers...y'know, Nazis...bad guys! War can be dirty business though, and even heroes suffer casualties. That said, the issue #23 opens with the original Human Torch and the other heroes in Britain as doctors work to save his sidekick Toro who was injured by a Nazi bullet. Things go from bad to worse when we learn that Toro has a bullet lodged next to his heart, and his best chance of survival is a surgeon back in the USA! Then Spitfire arrives on the scene to tell Captain America and the heroes that they're needed. Allied command wants them to rendezvous with Union Jack to prep for their next mission. Torch is none to happy, he wants to stay with Toro, but the combination of Namor offering one of his ships, and Bucky offering to stay with Toro manages to sway him. 

Meeting up with Union Jack the team finds out they're being sent to Egypt, where two political faction are waging war. One sides with the Allies, the other, a group calling itself the "Sons of the Scarab" are fighting alongside the Nazis. In no time at all the Invaders are in Egypt, knowing that if they can't stop the Nazis and the Sons of the Scarab the country, and even all of Africa, may fall to the Axis powers. They quickly meet up with their liason, Major Harrison and an Egyptian archaeologist, Dr. Faoul. The doctor says he knows the fanatics are hiding among the pyramids. Since the pyramids are national treasures Faoul says the Egyptian government has given them permission to go in and find them, and with that they're off!

Faoul accompanies them, to make sure the artifacts remain undamaged as Torch and Namor tunnel into the pyramids. That is, until the doctor's true plan is revealed...he used them to help him locate a sacred talisman, a red beetle which transforms him into the Scarlet Scarab! 

The Scarab is insane with power and believes anyone who is not Egyptian is out to oppress his homeland...and he quickly goes on the attack! Meanwhile, Cap, Spitfire and Union Jack are pinned down my enemy fire. They need back up, and fast...but Namor and Torch are under fire themselves! Talk about a cliffhanger!

Issue #25 picks things right up as Invaders battle the Scarlet Scarab across the deserts of Egypt! Captain America, Spitfire and Union Jack take on the German troops, while Namor and Torch battle the Scarab! With flight, super strength and energy blasts, Faoul is more than a match for the heroes...but add in the fact that at close range the scarab drains the energy of his opponents (something Namor discovers much too late) the villain is down right deadly! 

After gaining the upper hand, the Scarab leaves the fire and water team broken and bruised and goes in search of more "would be conquerors" to vanquish. He decides teaming with the Nazis to take out the Allied forces is the right course of action...but little does he know the Germans only plan to play along while his power suits their purposes. Afterwards? The outlook isn't so good! Cap and the rest of the Invaders regroup and jump right back into the path of the Scarlet Scarab and once again Namor is on the receiving end of an energy sucking beat down! Before his team members can save him though, the Scarab is distracted by German soldiers abusing an old Egyptian man who dared to oppose them. In a flash the tables have turned!

Realizing that the Nazis are "the devilish curse of this land", the Scarab decides it's time to purge his country of the Germans...and the Invaders are ready to fight by his side! When the dust settles though the Invaders learn a hard lesson...Faoul still views them as outsiders, potential enemies of Egypt. He makes his intentions very clear...he'll use his new found powers to act for his country's good, and no one else's..before taking off, leaving the Invaders to wonder if their next meeting will be as friends or foes...

Wow! What a debut! Not entirely sure how I feel about the costume, but the character and his motivation are pretty anti-hero of sorts, and a patriot. Even more interesting to me is the archaeologist, historian, discovering a sacred relic that gives him power. We saw something similar last week with the golden age Scarab...and in the origin of a certain blue clad silver age hero, too. Very interesting...


  1. I thought it was very cool how he was essentially neutral, just opposed to either power interloping in Egypt. Didn't much like his outfit, though. Not a fan of Roy Thomas producing analogues for Golden Age heroes from other companies as he did with the Quality heroes as well. Ironically I think Roy's worst work is in comics set in the '40s as he gets too fan boyish about it and tries to tie together things best left separate, and it becomes tedious to me.

  2. Yeah, the neutrality is definitely interesting, especially when comics are usually pretty black and white when it comes to good and bad.

  3. Any plans to cover Scarlet Scorpion? While not a scarab, he is a Blue Beetle stand-in.

  4. Scarlet Scorpion...not familiar with the character, but the "Blue Beetle stand-in" has me intrigued.

  5. After AC Comics lost the BB license and DC took the property, AC came up with Scarlet Scorpion to fill his shoes. Appeared in a couple issues of his own, Sentinels of Justice, and a couple of issue of Dragonfly. May have appeared elsewhere but I don't have many AC comics.