Membership: Captain Wings (Roger Dicken), Dyna-Mite (Roger Aubrey), Ghost Girl (Wendy Hunt), Spirit of '76 (William Nasland), Thunderfist (Patrick Mason), Tommy Lightning (Thomas Lovejoy)
Purpose: To replace the Invaders as England's premiere superhero team
Aliases: Project Crusader
Affiliations: Invaders (Bucky/James Barnes, Captain America/Steve Rogers, Human Torch/Jim Hammond, Spitfire/Jacqueline Falsworth, Sub-Mariner/Namor McKenzie, Toro/Thomas Raymond), King George VI;
Enemies: Nazis (Hauptman Schmidt and unrevealed others)
Base of Operations: Alfie's boat on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom
First Appearance: Invaders I#14 (March, 1977)
(Invaders I#19 (fb) - BTS) - The Gestapo leader of Hitler's Nazi party headed Project Crusader, a plot to replace the Invaders as England's premiere superhero team.
(Invaders I#19 (fb)) - At the end of 1938 the Nazi party was in for a surprise when the son of a British lord; Brian Falsworth and his dear friend Roger Aubrey payed them a visit. The duo had come in support of the appeasement of the Munich Agreement, but once they had shown their support the Gestapo didn't plan on allowing the boys to leave. After the inevitable fight that followed Falsworth was sentenced to death while the Gestapo leader saw something special in the diminutive stature of Aubrey and decided he would fit in well with their experiments for Project Crusader. Aubrey, however was unaware Falsworth would escape his cell and acquired a variant sample of Professor Schmitt's secret formula from a fellow prisoner, granting him superhuman abilities with which he became the second mighty Destroyer (the first being Kevin Marlow, who received the original secret formula from Professor Schmitt himself).
(Invaders I#15 (fb) - BTS) - The Gestapo hired the sketchy Englishman Alfie, a secret Nazi agent tasked to head Project Crusader to get the American superheroes the Invaders out of Great Britain. Alfie set out and found several men and women from the British nation who he could persuade to join the Crusaders. Thus he contacted the Scottish girl who would become Ghost Girl, Roger Dicken an Englishman from upper middle class who would become Captain Wings, Patrick Mason who would become Thunderfist, and the cockney Thomas Lovejoy who would become Tommy Lightning. Alfie offered all of them superhuman powers if they would serve the crown as the Crusaders. All of Alfie's Crusaders received powers that were ultimately controlled by technology in Alfie's powerbelt.
(Invaders I#15 (fb) - BTS) - The Crusaders regularly met aboard Alfie's dingy looking boat moored at the docks of the River Thames.
(Invaders I#14) - The Crusaders tried to keep civilians safe in London during a heated dogfight between Nazi bombers and British airplanes. The Crusaders decided to split into two groups to cover even more ground. The first group consisting of Ghost Girl, Dyna-Mite and the Spirit of '76 witnessed how a group of crashed Nazi pilots killed several members of the British home guard who'd tried to offer them medical care. The threesome sprung into action to fight them. One of the Nazis tried shooting Ghost Girl but was surprised when his bullets passed through the girl's body. Ghost Girl then revealed she was a good meter away before punching out the enemy soldier. Having defeated the Nazis, the threesome posed for a newsphoto before Invaders members Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch and Toro revealed their presence. They had witnessed the battle and thought to introduce themselves and learn more about the Crusaders. Ghost Girl revealed the other Crusaders had been out rescuing civilians as well. The Sub-Mariner asked Ghost Girl to explain her powers, which she happily did by providing a demonstration. The threesome then took off, asking the Invaders not to follow them. The second group consisting of Captain Wing, Thunderfist and Tommy Lightning went into action to help a group of struggling English soldiers doubling as firemen to douse the flames of a building. In order to stop the fire from spreading Thunderfist charged at the building, causing it to collapse while Tommy Lightning dealt with the live wires. Captain Wings flew into action and rescued several civilians. Afterwards, they were approached by the Invaders members Captain America, Bucky and Spitfire who had witnessed the Crusaders in action and wanted to introduce themselves to learn more about these new superheroes. But when Captain America asked the Crusaders about their strange powers they quickly fled the scene, unaware their teammates had already encountered the other Invaders.
(Invaders I#14 - BTS) - The next morning the Crusaders went to the palace, asking King George VI for a chance to replace the Invaders as his majesty's guard of honor. Unsure the Crusaders were up for the task, the king allowed Dyna-Mite to serve as his personal bodyguard to test his capabilities.
(Invaders I#14) - King George VI took a ride in his limousine through St. James Park where he was assaulted by an anarchist (hired by Alfie). However the tiny Dyna-Mite was hiding in the car as well. He attacked the man foiling his attempt to kill the king. Mere seconds later the Crusaders arrived, breathing a sigh of relief to find the king was safe. Ghost Girl concluded they had just finished their first mission. However, the Invaders also arrived unaware what the Crusaders were doing with King George until they told the American team of their plans to replace them as the majesty's honor guard. The Invaders were incredulous, only their British born member Spitfire seemed to understand.
(Invaders I#14 - BTS) - Later that day it was announced the Crusaders would indeed succeed the Invaders as the majesty's guard of honor. Their first official task would be to be present during the dedication of the battleship Hornblower.
(Invaders I#15) - The Crusaders convened at Alfie's boat wondering why Alfie had given them superpowers in the first place. Just then Alfie walked into the door, having heard the conversation he noted he was their liaison officer. Thinking Alfie was secretly working with the government Captain Wings asked the man why they still had to meet in secret given their new public status. Ghost Girl added that it was odd they even took orders from someone who lacked powers himself. Upset, Alfie asked Ghost Girl to give them all a show of her powers which he interrupted midway through by yanking the insolent Scottish lass by the hair. This made the others wonder if Alfie was really their friend. Alfie then took to the stage and explained he'd recruited all of them to serve King and country, going on to show how he didn't need powers when he could simply control theirs with a device on his belt. He then revealed the Invaders were secretly Nazis themselves, showing doctored pictures as evidence. The Crusaders all seemed to buy this and left to deal with the Invaders, only Dyna-Mite wasn't convinced. He stayed behind, tiny and unseen in Alfie's pocket, to find out what he was up to.
(Invaders I#15 - BTS) - Later that evening Dyna-Mite discovered Alfie was the one working for the Nazis and that the bottle of champagne the king would be using to christen the Hornblower was an explosive. Dyna-Mite successfully made his way over to the Falsworth Manor to warn the Invaders.
(Invaders I#15) - The next day the Crusaders minus Dyna-Mite gathered at the docks for the christening ceremony But just as King George VI was about to hit the battleship with the champagne, the Invaders arrived. Still believing Alfie's lies about the Invaders being Nazis, the Crusaders immediately attacked, leading to an all-out battle in which Ghost Girl and Captain Wings faced Toro, Thunderfist fought the Sub-Mariner and hit the Atlantean in the face. Tommy Lightning fought Captain America and successfully hit the man with his electricity. The Human Torch threw several balls of fire at the Spirit of '76 but he easily shielded himself with his bulletproof cloak. The Spirit of '76 then tried hitting Captain America but was punched in the face by the patriotic heroes. King George was told to get out of harm's way, but decided to fulfill his duties amidst the chaos and threw the bottle anyway. The Human Torch caught the bottle just in time and disposed of it before it went off. The explosion distracted the combatants long enough for the fight to stop. Ghost Girl and the Crusaders realized what had gone on but failed to notice Alfie tried to get away. The Human Torch threw a fireball in his path, causing him to swerve and drive off the London Bridge. Alfie seemingly died when his car exploded as it plunged into the water. Alfie's powerbelt was also destroyed, causing the Crusaders to lose their powers. Realizing they in fact had been Nazi agents, the Crusaders immediately took off their gear and threw it in the Thames. The Crusaders offered their apologies to King George and Captain America after which they took their leave.
Comments: Created by Chris Claremont (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Dan Green (inks).
The Crusaders' real names were revealed in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z HC#3.
The Spirit of '76 (William Nasland) would go one to become the second Captain America, replacing him when Steve Rogers had seemingly died in the summer of 1945 fighting Baron Zemo. He would eventually be retconned to have been active as Captain America in Captain America Comics#49 (August, 1945).
Dyna-Mite (Roger Aubrey) would become the third person (1. Kevin "Keen" Marlow, 2. Brian Falsworth) to be called the Destroyer in Invaders I#26 (March, 1978). He would eventually be retconned to have been active as the Destroyer in All Winners Comics#8 (Spring, 1943), sharing the codename with his lover Brian Falsworth (also known as the second Union Jack).
The Crusaders were created as counterparts to the Freedom Fighters, Golden Age characters originally owned by Quality Comics which would end up becoming part of DC. In the same way the Squadron Supreme mirrors the JLA, each member of the Crusaders is an analogue for one of the Freedom Fighters: Captain Wings / the Black Condor, Dyna-Mite / the Doll Man, Ghost Girl / Phantom Lady, Tommy Lightning / the Ray, The Spirit of '76 / the Fighting Yank, Thunderfist / the Human Bomb.
DC Comics also had a WWII era team called the Crusaders, who were the counterparts to Marvel Comics' Invaders. Both versions of the Crusaders were the result of a discusion between FREEDOM FIGHTERS writer Bob Rozakis and Marvel editor Tony Isabella about an "unofficial crossover" between The Invaders and the Freedom Fighters, each team facing off with a group of villains called the Crusaders who were an homage to the other publisher's group. Rozakis later explained this crossover idea in his "Answer Man" column. The Marvel Crusaders appeared in INVADERS I#14-15 (1977). The DC Crusaders appeared in FREEDOM FIGHTERS#7-9 (1977).
The DC Crusaders were based upon the Invaders: Americommando (Captain America), Barracuda (Namor), Fireball (Human Torch), Rusty (Bucky) and Sparky (Toro).
The Crusaders received a profile in the Marvel Legacy The 1970's Handbook and the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z HC#3.
Profile by MarvellousLuke
The Crusaders should not be confused with
images: (without ads)
Invaders I#14, p16, pan5 (mainimage)
Invaders I#14, p8, pan1 (Crusaders leaping into action)
Invaders I#15, p6, pan1 (at Alfie's base)
Invaders I#15, p16, pan6 (finished)
Invaders I#14 (March, 1977) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Frank Robbins (pencils), Frank Springer (inks)
Invaders I#15 (April, 1977) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Frank Robbins (pencils), Frank Springer (inks)
Invaders I#19 (August, 1977) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Frank Robbins (pencils), Frank Springer (inks)
First Posted: 02/01/18
Last updated: 02/19/18
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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