Iron Cross was a villain who first appeared in Invaders Vol.1 35.
Helmut Gruler grew up in the carefree days of Germany at the turn of the twentieth century. He and his friend, Franz Schneider, were childhood friends who became friendly rivals through their university years. After Germany's depression following World War I, Gruler believed that the only hope for his nation was in the rise of national socialism, even though he would admit Hitler to be an extremist and would never claim to be a Nazi. This nevertheless divided the friendship, as Schneider refused to follow the Nazi regime in any way. For seven years, the former friends never spoke to each other. Somehow, Gruler had come to feel the need to renew their friendship but discovered Schneider was missing, having fled to America. Gruler also discovered Schneider's hidden laboratory and an armoured battlesuit of Schneider's design. Schneider had hoped the armour could be used by a German champion if Hitler was ever ousted from power, or, if necessary, by an anti-Nazi German who would fight against Hitler. Gruler decided to wear the armour himself, calling himself the Iron Cross, hoping to fight, not against the Nazis, but for his fatherland, right or wrong.