By Jim Beard
Skulls? Check. Guns? Check. Attitude? Check! So, we're talking the Punisher, right? Think again, True Believer-it's the Destroyer and he's coming to kick Nazi butt!
Before the Marvel Comics we know and love today there existed Timely Comics, and before the no-nonsense Frank Castle ever wore a skull and took down the bad guys there trod the equally no-nonsense Destroyer. Marvel pays tribute to this Golden Age great in the USA COMICS 70th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, heading your way July 1. Writer John Arcudi, no stranger to dark tales and weird goings-on, weaves a new Destroyer yarn set during the very dark days of World War II and maintains a secrecy that'd make this shadowy super hero proud.
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"Without giving too much away, this story gets at the heart of who the Destroyer is," he says of the one-shot. "Not so much an origin tale, but an insight into why the Destroyer does what he does."
The Destroyer did what he did throughout many of Timely's thrilling series of the 1940's, including MYSTIC COMICS, ALL WINNERS COMICS and, of course, USA COMICS. Created by none other than, Stan Lee himself, the hero sported a distinctive costume and operated along similar lines to that of the legendary Captain America. But unlike Cap, Destroyer had no teen side-kick and fought on his own as a one-man army behind enemy lines.
When talk of the Punisher arises, though, Arcudi's quick to point out both differences and similarities between the modern-day vigilante and his Golden Age "ancestor."
"He's just as ruthless, I'll tell you that, but as for differences, I'd say the Destroyer is a lot more focused," the writer notes. "He's after only Nazis. Criminals are small-fry to his way of thinking. He's out to abolish an entire
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political philosophy-or rather, what disguises as a political philosophy. And when we got Nazis, in my experience it never gets much darker than that!"
Though never grabbing the amount of limelight as Timely's war-era Big Three-Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner-the Destroyer's unique name and odd choice in costume always guaranteed him a prominent spot in readers' interest of the times.
"They almost all had kinda odd costumes back then," Arcudi comments. "But certainly the name [the Destroyer] is more ominous than, oh, say, 'The Whizzer' and that's in keeping with his mission statement, as it were, which is: destroy all Nazis!"
After his Golden Age career, the Destroyer found revival in such series as the classic INVADERS, THUNDERBOLTS and CITIZEN V & THE V-BATTALION. He most recently appeared in the retro AGE OF SENTRY series and his own Marvel MAX limited series this year.
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The USA COMICS 70th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL also features a vintage reprint of a 1941 Destroyer tale. Incredibly, until now only one of this character's stories has found life past its original 1940's printing, making this truly a special event for Marvel fans everywhere.
Arcudi's joined on his all-new Destroyer adventure by artist Steve Ellis, whose visuals lend itself to the fog-shrouded night the hero throws himself into to defend his country at a time of world war.
"The first page he nailed," says the writer of Ellis. "It gives you the sense of the battling-on-top-of-a-train feel I was going for."
Join the Destroyer on his nerve-wracking mission to accomplish what lesser man cannot in the pages of the USA COMICS 70th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL on July!
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