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Comic Book / Invasion! (DC Comics)

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My, what big teeth you have, Grandma!

Invasion! was a three-part Crisis Crossover miniseries published by DC Comics in 1988. (It should not be confused with the TV series of the same name, or any other invasion-themed series.)

An alien race called The Dominators discovers that Earth's superhumans get their powers from a 'meta-gene' and decide to capture them all to be used as living weapons with which to conquer the universe. Realizing that they cannot beat the heroes by themselves, they convince several other races from around The DC Universe to aid them under the pretense that the "metahumans" were too dangerous to be allowed to exist (and taking advantage of the fact that the Green Lantern Corps had, at the time, been reduced to only a handful.)

The combined might of the alien armada seemed invincible but thanks to a Heel–Face Turn by one of its own member races, it was routed. But a second threat happened when a Dominator scientist detonated a "meta-gene bomb" whose radiation rendered most of Earth's metahumans helpless. It takes a Ragtag Band of Misfits to find the cure and save the day.

The story is separated into three components:

  • The main story itself is told in three issues - "The Alien Armada", "Battleground Earth" and "World Without Heroes"
  • In-between issues #1 and 2 are the "First Strike" tie-ins. These stories showcase humanity's early attempts to fight the alien invasion to various degrees of success.
  • In-between issues #2 and 3 are the "Aftermath" tie-ins. These stories showcase the clean-up efforts by humanity and their new allies, all these issues ending with the mysterious Gene Bomb detonating.

The series L.E.G.I.O.N. (about a mercenary group that protected the galaxy in the Corps' absence) was spun off from the crossover. It also launched the series of Justice League Europe and the Daxamite superhero Valor (also known as Mon-El). (A team called The Blasters was introduced by the crossover and given a one-shot special, but never had its own series.) As well, Grant Morrison's iconic run on Doom Patrol kicked off following the end of the story and Superman began the Superman: Exile storyline as a culmination of events starting with The Supergirl Saga.

In 2016, the story was adapted as third crisis crossover of the Arrowverse called Invasion and the first to feature all four shows: Supergirl (2015) ("Medusa"), The Flash (2014) ("Invasion!"), Arrow ("Invasion!"), and Legends of Tomorrow ("Invasion!"), in that order.

For the 2000 AD series, see Savage.


  • Action Bomb: Lex Luthor contributed by making robotic replicas of heroes that would get captured, and then explode while being studied.
  • Alien Abduction: The Dominators abduct humans to experiment with the meta-gene, and the shapeshifting Durlans abduct humans to imitate and replace them.
  • Alien Invasion: An alliance of several extraterrestrial militaries invades earth, prompted by the supposed potential danger posed by the adaptability and powers inherent in the meta-gene present in some humans.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Full-Stop. The entire story happens because a race called the Dominators wanted to conqueror the Earth to use humans as guinea pigs and weapons out of sheer prejudice, forming an alliance with several other species to do so, including the Thanagarians and the Durlans.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The alien armada begins its attack by... taking over Australia.
  • Bald of Evil: Thanagarian men are bald fascists.
  • Big Bad: The Dominators.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The invaders are driven off with the Daxamites vowing to keep an eye on them in case they try again and the effects of the Gene Bomb are undone, but numerous cities are ravaged by the aliens' attacks, the Doom Patrol is ravaged and Superman goes on a Self-Imposed Exile.
  • Brain Monster: The Gil'Dishpan, one of the members of the alien alliance, look like misshapen brain-tubeworm things in tentacle-covered bubbles.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The Doom Patrol is pulverized in this story - Celsius is killed in the invasion, Scott Fischer is killed by the Gene Bomb, Lodestone is put into a coma by the Gene Bomb, Karma leaves the team due to crimes he committed prior and Negative Woman loses her connection to the Negative Force. Only Robotman and Dr. Caulder are still active at the end.
  • Came Back Strong: A few metahumans end up getting a nice power bump thanks to the Gene Bomb. Of note is Fire, who now becomes a green female Human Torch, and Brainiac, whose psychic powers get a massive boost, making way for his more iconic green-skinned look later on.
  • The Cameo: The Daily Planet special has two brief interviews with Mister Miracle character Funky Flashman and Barbara Gordon, her first post-The Killing Joke appearance.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Inverted with the Khunds who are pretty much pink Klingons but debuted three years before Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • Inverted with the Durlans, who are essentially the same as the more popular Skrulls but predated their first appearance a month. Reep Dagle was the first of either species to grace the pages of comics back in 1961, and the Skrulls first appeared in 1962.
  • Category Traitor: The Thanagarians joined mostly to capture Katar and Shayera Hol.
  • C-List Fodder: Most of the named deaths in this story were little-known characters, particularly a couple of leftover former Green Lanterns, a few members of the Omega Men and two members of the Doom Patrol.
  • Crisis Crossover: A whole mess of alien planets get together and try to take over Earth to keep all the superbeings we keep producing under control; yet again, it doesn't work out. This crossover also introduced the Metagene Meta Origin concept in the DCU, as well as led to the launching of Justice League Europe and L.E.G.I.O.N., a 20th Century Legion of Super-Heroes spin-off title known mainly for having Lobo and Brainiac 2 on the roster.
  • Defector from Decadence:
    • Any Dominator (very few) or Durlan that switches sides to aid the humans.
    • Some were only revealed later. Most of those that become Wonder Woman's command crew after she is abducted by the Sangtee Empire were former members of the Alien Alliance. The Empire caught quite a few Durlans and Khunds while they were on their way home and a few invaders that were fleeing their own people in the aftermath (the Dominator Sakritt and Daxamite "Julia") of the failed invasion.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The entire gene bomb thing. The Dominator who detonated it had done so as a parting "screw you" to the Earthlings and is expecting to be lauded for his actions. However, it turns out the Dominators were actually planning on heading back to Earth at a future date for round two and his acts ruined it. The only reason he's still alive for the Martian Manhunter and Robotman to find him is because the Dominators want to know if there's a cure for it. Thankfully, there is.
  • Die or Fly: The miniseries introduced the "metagene", which gives humans superpowers as a way to survive lethal trauma, as a way to Handwave the many heroes and villains with Freak Lab Accident origin stories. The concept was demonstrated by an alien scientist performing a mass execution of fifty abductees; six of them survived, gained powers, and briefly formed a superteam.
  • Defiant to the End: The scientist who made the Gene Bomb would rather die than give up the cure to the weapon. He's actually shocked when the disguised Martian Manhunter is able to yank the location of the cure and walks away without torturing him.
  • Disposable Superhero Maker: The miniseries retcons a lot of DC's heroes into having a "metagene" that gives people powers when exposed to radiation or similar stresses, implying that most people would have died if exposed to Freak Lab Accidents or other superhero origins.
  • Divided We Fall: The Durlans try to implement this, but while there is a great deal of distrust going around once people realize some their supposed allies are Durlan impersonators most groups are able to operate effectively anyway.
  • The Dreaded: Darkseid. Though he doesn't physically make an appearance, the alliance agreed not to completely destroy the Earth and leave just enough humans for Darkseid for his anti-life equation. Anybody violating that rule risks the Lord of Apokalips' wrath.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Justified. The alien alliance planning to take over Earth discussed amongst themselves that the reason our otherwise Insignificant Little Blue Planet is The Center of the Universe is that humans are more genetically varied than any of them are. Specifically, some humans have the genetic code to develop a wide variety of superpowers.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: After all the antagonistic alien races of the universe decide to pool their resources to invade Earth because Earthlings are getting too big for their britches, how does the invasion end? Just like the Skrull-based Secret Invasion event, the aliens make landfall for five minutes, start talking like they've won, then summarily get kicked back into space to get curbstomped by the various Earthling superheroes. Oh, and one of the races of this coalition, the Dominators, drops a gene-bomb on Earth, causing a Mass Super-Empowering Event for humanity. Nice job uplifting thousands of those humans you came to destroy, alien dipsticks!
  • Evil Is Petty: Part of what stopped the invasion was the various races sniping at each other, helped along by Deadman possessing some.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Dominators, to their disadvantage. The scientist who invented the gene bomb was only told to study the meta gene because of his caste status. His subsequent torture for going outside what his caste was permitted to do was what allowed the heroes to convince him to make a cure.
  • Fantastic Racism: Part of the reason for the alliance was... that aliens don't like how we look. The Daxamites and Thanagarians resembled Earth's humans, but they had no genetic variance eg. they all look alike. It's actually fascinating that the Daxamites were willing to ally with anyone given their traditionally extremely xenophobic culture.
  • Finding Judas: Several groups, including the US military, start realizing they've been infiltrated by Durlans impersonating personnel. Wonder Woman's lasso and inherent sense of when she's being lied to gives her a leg up on figuring out who is really who they claim to be, which is helpful when Steve Trevor ends up abducted and impersonated.
  • Floating Water: Adam Strange is visited by a Thanagarian delegation who vocally admires the "water sculpture" in the hero's house as it made various shapes in the air above the "fountain" it filled. Then they tried to kill him. Turns out the "water sculpture" was actually a trained alien "watchdog" made of liquid and the fountain was its equivalent to a doghouse. (It also turns out that Thanagarians take a long time to drown, since their lungs are larger than those of a human.)
  • Good Lips, Evil Jaws: The Dominators are not nice and have a bunch of long sharp pointy teeth constantly exposed since they have no lips to cover them with.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the Daxamite observers for the alien alliance, who died of lead poisoning so he could reach a transmitter to tell his homeworld to throw in on Earth's side. (At the time, the Daxamite was the father of Lar Gand, a.k.a. Legion of Super-Heroes member Mon-El; this has probably been retconned.)
  • Hugh Mann: Some of the Durlans are decidedly less effective at impersonating humans than others. The death of whomever they're attempting to impersonate is also a hangup since they can't go back and pull information from them to help their disguise if the person in question is dead, though this doesn't stop many of them from killing their targets for simplicity's sake.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Dominators are relatively humanoid, besides their lack of hair, lack of lips, pointed ears, pointed teeth, stretched features and odd skin tones.
  • Human Aliens: The Daxamites and Thanagarians.
  • Irony: Several things.
    • The invaders had no idea that the superhumans were going to be used against them once captured.
    • The Daxamites helping route the invasion.
    • A Dominator helping save Earth's heroes (after almost killing them.)
    • The Thanagarians' original reason for joining the Invasion was to capture Hawkman and Hawkwoman, rogue Thanagarians who had defected to Earth. The popularity of the Hawkworld comic would lead to these characters being rebooted, and retconned the previous Hawkman and Hawkwoman members of the Justice League being advance agents of the Invasion who remained loyal. Hawkworld came out literally months after the conclusion to Invasion!, essentially making the Thanagarians' involvement immediately incoherent.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: The cover to issue #2 shows the Justice League International in the Iwo Jima Pose with the UN flag.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Khunds' battlelust ends up being less than benificiary for their allies.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Dominators set off a "gene bomb" which activates a lot of people's dormant metagenes. Since the Dominators' aim was to get rid of Earth's superheroes, this was a textbook case of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
  • Meta Origin: The "metagene". When someone with this gene underwent a moment of extraordinary physical stress, the gene would activate, giving them some ability that would allow them to handle it. Any character who doesn't have powers from some other, explicit source is assumed to be a "metahuman".
    • The "Blasters" team were the survivors of a group of 100 random humans kidnapped to demonstrate the theory. The Dominator running the experiment expected that if they were all attacked by a firing-squad barrage, one of them would spontaneously develop powers that would allow him to survive. Instead, seven people did, including (unknown to them) former Justice League sidekick Snapper Carr.
    • The Daxamites gain powers on Earth similar to Superman's, since they're descended from Kryptonian colonists who intermarried with native Daxamites. However they were also vulnerable to lead-based pollution, and only survived because Earth's heroes saved them.
    • Some people actually gained powers (or had them altered) as a result of the meta-bomb, most notably Justice League manager Maxwell Lord. Several of the new members of Doom Patrol introduced during the Grant Morrison run were also said to have got their powers from the meta-bomb.
      • Metamorpho actually came back from the dead because of it. Notable not only in that it implied his powers were genetic rather than mystic, but also that the gene bomb could work on the dead.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Dominators, a race of geneticists and conquerors who wish to use humans as guinea pigs and weapons out of sheer prejudice. Not that most of their allies realized it.
  • No Need for Names: Dominators and a certain subculture of Durlans do not use names, but rebellious members of each, such as the Dominator Sakritt do adopt names as part of their rebellion.
  • Parody: At the time, Marvel's X-Men were situated in Australia. So they had an issue where they stopped a thinly-disguised version of DC's invasion.
  • Puny Earthlings: The alien Dominators wanted to exploit human superbeings to conquer the universe, but had to trick other alien races into helping capture them first, on the excuse that humans are troublesome, genetic freaks.

  • The Mole: Several heroic characters and government officials have actually been replaced by Durlans.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits
  • Red Skies Crossover: Some comics had no direct ties to the event beyond a single black and white panel with reversed coloration, signifying the moment of the gene bomb's detonation.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Most of the alien races that weren't the Daxamites, Thangarians, or Gil'Dishpan.
  • Running Gag: The miniseries frames several of its scenes as television newscasts. Whenever a reporter tries to interview one of the heroes, the hero invariably replies with, "Get that @%&£$€# camera out of my face!"
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Durlans have a default form as a bald orange humanoid with pointy ears and a pair of antennae. Those whose families were badly affected by the fallout from the "Six-Minute War" have essentially lost their default and instead look like a shifting writhing inconsistent mass of brown and grey tentacles in their "default" form.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The headline for the Daily Planet in response to the United Nations rejecting the Alien Alliance's demand to surrender their superheroes reads, "EARTH TO INVADERS: DROP DEAD!", a reference to the October 29, 1975 issue of the New York Daily News, whose headline reads, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD".
    • The cover of the second issue is a reference to the US Marines hoisting up the US flag after the battle of Iwo Jima.
  • Space Jews: The Dominators. Yellow skin, huge sharp teeth, bony clawed fingers, they resemble nothing so much as the Golden Age Yellow Claw except they have red circles on their foreheads.
  • Space Police: The Green Lantern Corps, and the L.E.G.I.O.N..
  • Spot the Imposter:
    • When heading to rescue Steve Trevor from shapeshifting Durlans, Wonder Woman and Captain Atom know who they're dealing with. When they're separated, each is approached by a Durlan posing as the other but see through it fast. In Diana's case, she asks "Atom" if Captain Nate Adam was with Trevor, the Durlan confirming it...not knowing Nate is Captain Atom. In Atom's case, he's able to quickly see that "Diana's" lasso isn't glowing.
    • In an earlier issue, a Durlan invaded a secret military base. When a helicopter starts taking off, General Eiling believes the Durlan is posing as the pilot. To his surprise, Atom yanks one of the gas tanks off of the copter and then tosses it into the blades, which slice the Durlan apart. Atom explains he's flown that type of helicopter before and knew it only has two fuel tanks, not three.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Gil'Disphan were the Invasion's submariner force, and looked like tumors floating in bubbles.
  • Take That!: * The trade paperback collection for the miniseries had the tagline "Secret No More!", a jab at Marvel's Secret Invasion.
  • The Infiltration: The Durlans use their shapeshifting abilities to mimic people in various teams and agencies in preparation for the coming invasion.
  • Trick Bomb: The Dominator develops and detonates a "gene bomb" which targets those with the "metahuman" gene (responsible for the emergence of Earthling superheroes) and causes them to lose control of their powers. While it was supposed to eventually prove lethal, the only death directly due to the bomb was a C-list member of a C-list team: Scott Fischer of the Doom Patrol.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Durlans of course, though as always they're under threat of being mode-locked in their current forms and the forms of those who came out the worst from Durla's "Six-Minute War" are more unstable.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Lead, for the Daxamites.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Dominator Leaders had not told their scientist what the real purpose of their mission was. So they rewarded his invention with torture, which led to his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The invading alliance seems to be defeated by the second issue... oh, wait, gene bomb.

Alternative Title(s): Invasion