Invasion! began life as a late 1980s crossover series, yet one that could be read without reference to the comics that tie in. Depending on your view of superhero crossovers that’s either welcome or not. Keith Giffen’s plot, scripted by Bill Mantlo, starts with an alliance between DC’s alien races to end once and for all what they consider the nuisances that emerge from Earth, and develops into a three act drama, each act very different. The plotting stage is the most fun, the alien races mixing and scheming, while the second act starts with the aliens invading Australia, and the story is completed with the disaster of Earth’s heroes losing control of their powers. Follow the title link for a more thorough review of the core material, but the shorthand is that it starts well, then drops to ordinary, with the third act padded and stuttering. Todd McFarlane’s storytelling is better than his usual for the period because he’s working from Giffen’s layouts (sample left), and works well when dealing with aliens and their environments, while his stylised versions of DC heroes are less pleasing. The section Giffen pencils is the artistic highspot, while Bart Sears (sample right) on the final chapter is more anonymous than he’d later be, and that’s good.

This version of Invasion! is unique to the DC Graphic Novel Collection, and adds six associated chapters to the standard DC trade edition, showing how the alien invasion affected assorted individual heroes, or in the case of the Justice League and Doom Patrol, a team. As might be expected from an assortment of creators, they’re a mixed bunch. The Justice League segment by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis is really two stories, both nicely drawn by Kevin Maguire, but the rimshot comedy patter has dated, although the first plot is neatly resolved. George Pérez writes rather than draws the Wonder Woman story, the art left to Chris Marrinan’s attempt at looking like Pérez, which he just about pulls off. It ties in with the second Justice League story, indeed repeating several pages of it, and the best aspect is Wonder Woman appalled by Guy Gardner. “What kind of barbarian are you?”, she asks, and probably isn’t the first.

Roger Stern’s neat Superman story guest stars Captain Atom, Gangbuster and Guardian, and still manages to fit in Superman taking on Thanagarians and a new voodoo based villain, while the now forgotten Kerry Gamill’s art is a tidy treat. It’s the best of the extras. The featured Doom Patrol are from an era before Grant Morrison completely reformatted the team, and Paul Kupperberg’s plot explains why that was necessary, even having a character say toward the end that it doesn’t make any sense. Early in his career Graham Nolan’s art shows promise, but needed work. He also draws Stern’s Atom story, where the same applies, but it’s a lot more fun and leaves us wanting find out how the Chronos plot develops. Batman turns up in Havana courtesy of Alan Grant and John Wagner, but it might as well take place in Gotham harbour as there’s no use of local colour in an average plot averagely drawn by Irv Novick.

The hardcover format and extra stories are a bonus for anyone who really enjoys Invasion!, but although some ideas are innovative, it’s not a great story overall.