Monday, January 15, 2007

Stan Lee's Destroyer

Back in the sixties, the coolest thing about FANTASY MASTERPIECES and its more modestly titled version, MARVEL SUPER HEROES was that it would on occasion reprint golden age stories of heroes I had never heard of before! Thus, I was first introduced to the Vision, the Black Marvel, the Whizzer and the Destroyer.
One of Stan Lee’s earliest super hero creations, the Destroyer first appeared in 1941, taking much of his origin from Captain America as he was given a super soldier formula by a scientist.Several of his early stories pre-dated US involvement in the soon to be named World War II and yet Stan already had his hero working behind the lines in Germany to help the oppressed with his super-soldier powers.
Cursed with one of the most garish costumes ever, the Destroyer stories are nonetheless enjoyable little espionage pieces with lots of fighting and gratuitous violence--just exactly what comics were known for in those days. Appearing in a number of comics for the duration of the war and just a bit beyond, the strip featured artwork by a variety of folks including Al (CAPTAIN AMERICA) Avison, Jack (MARY MARVEL) Binder and John( TALES OF THE BIZARRO WORLD) Forte (of all people!). Whether he wrote a particular story or not (some were done by Otto Binder) Stan was often bylined as the character’s creator.
Seen here is a rare shot of Cap, Torch and Subby, the later Invaders, welcoming the Destroyer and also the Whizzer to ALL WINNERS COMICS. Roy Thomas would later revive both characters in his retro series THE INVADERS in the 1970’s, the Destroyer eventually becoming the new Union Jack. I believe a modern version has even appeared more recently. Living in the past as I tend to do, though, I wouldn’t know about that. He DID have a cameo in one of the recent STAN LEE MEETS… titles, however! Nice touch!

1 comment:

  1. I read one reprinted Destroyer story in Marvel Super Heroes. I think it was #12. The plot had to do with protecting some top secret documents. The Nazis did get the documents, but the ending revealed that the Destroyer intentionally allowed them to do so, because it was disinformation that misdirected the enemy.

    In the original version (in Mystic Comics and All-Winners Comics), he was an American reporter. The Invaders retcon made him British, and the son of Union Jack and the brother of Spitfire. When the original Destroyer became the new Union Jack, another character became the new Destroyer. Or something like that.