The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Daimon and the Duck

Before they became heroes in Marvel Comics Super Special #1, the founding members of the rock band KISS materialized from a young woman under psychiatric supervision.

Called to investigate, Daimon Hellstrom determined that evil forces were not responsible for the unusual occurrence. Rather, the young woman had latent psychic talents that may have caused her to tap into a parallel universe. But Hellstrom assured doctors that the phenomenon was unlikely to reoccur (Howard the Duck #13).

Convinced nonetheless that the young woman was possessed by evil spirits, the misguided Revered Yuc kidnapped her. When Hellstrom came to the rescue, Reverend Yuc mystically removed the hero's chest pentagram and demonic powers. Hellstrom was relieved at first, until he saw that emblem unexpectedly branded on Howard the Duck (#14).

Along with Hellstrom's pentagram, mystic trident, and superhuman powers, Howard also inherited a volatile personality hellbent on retribution (which Hellstrom struggled long to control as the Son of Satan).

Hellstrom chased after the demonically driven duck, and then grabbed the mystic trident from Howard's hands, returning things to normal (or rather, as normal as they had been).

Howard the Duck. Vol. 1. No. 13. June 1977. "Rock, Roll Over, and Writhe!" Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Jan Cohen (colorist).
Howard the Duck. Vol. 1. No. 14. July 1977. "A Duck Possessed!" Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (penciller), Klaus Janson (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Irene Vartanoff (colorist).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Power Rings

While most issues of Tales to Astonish (Volume 2) ran only reprints of Sub-Mariner adventures, #13 included a new back-up story.

Still sour after his losing battle against Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, and Dr. Strange (Defenders #6), evil magician Cyrus Black decided to direct his anger against just one member of the Defenders.

To accomplish his goal, Cyrus Black offered three children magic rings that promised to fulfill their wildest dreams—turning them into versions of Hulk, Captain America, and Spider-Man.

Following the wizard's commands, the transformed children attacked Nighthawk, who was flying nearby. Taking off his own ring (a family heirloom worn under a glove), Nighthawk coaxed the transformed trio to follow his lead and remove their magic rings. The idea worked, and the children returned to normal.

Tales to Astonish. Vol. 2. No. 13. "Deadly Game!" Naomi Basner (writer), Alan Kupperberg (penciler), Bill Wray (inker), Christopher Warlock (letterer), Gaff (colorist), Jim Shooter (editor).
The cover story ("Death, Though Shalt Die!"originally appeared in Sub-Mariner #13 (May 1969).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Runners-Up

The monthly calendars that ran on the back covers of Marvel Age magazine often pictured comic book characters in the squares for holidays—along with many in-jokes.

As a call back to his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1976, Howard the Duck appeared in the Election Day square for November 6, 1985.

The content in other squares was often random. Meet the Hulks… on November 23, 1985, pictured the Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters), Xemnu (a recurring foe of the Defenders), wrestler Hulk Hogan, and a fifth character who I do not recognize as a "Hulk" from that era.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On a Hot Tin Roof

In her short-lived comic book series, the Cat repeatedly faced male opponents who underestimated her capabilities specifically because she was a woman. In the Cat Scratches letters column, readers commented on the feminist themes within the series, and the portrayal of the title character. Here is one letter published in The Cat #4 (June 1973).

Dear Stan,

THE CLAWS OF THE CAT was well-written, well-drawn, well-inked, well-lettered, and well-colored. So what am I writing about? I'm writing about a comic mag that is good, but is flawed and will be ruined by Women's Lib sayings.

Equal pay for equal work is fair and just, and it's the right way. But all that stuff about "male chauvinist pigs" and women being "sex objects" is a lotta (CENSORED). Anyway, what's wrong with being a sex object?

Bryan Newman

Here was the editorial reply:

Apparently, Bryan, you've never been whistled and leered at on a street corner. Or had a sensitive extremity pinched in an elevator car. Or been treated with disdain because you dared show some grain of intelligence. Or been refused a job because you might become pregnant.

But those are the things that are wrong with being a "sex object". And the whole point is … people shouldn't be treated as any kind of object! We don't consume human beings the way we do noodle soup. Or at least … we're not supposed to Think of it.

Meanwhile, we're glad you're enthusiastic about the CLAWS OF THE CAT. And, while we do plan to soft-pedal the rhetoric (and let the plots make our point instead), we felt we had to answer your query directly.

Till next ish: purr softly … and carry a big stick!

The Cat #4, however, was the last issue of the series. The character next appeared in Giant-Size Creatures #1, when she transformed into Tigra.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dream Sequence

During a dream sequence in Alias #21, on-again, off-again hero Jessica Jones imagined herself standing among Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie.

With the exception of Nighthawk, these were the same Defenders seen in flashbacks in Alias #25. Given her retcon history, of course, all accounts of Jessica Jones entail an added layer of subjectivity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

When Did Jessica Jones Battle the Avengers and Defenders?

Through a series of flashbacks, Jessica Jones described how she retired from her career as a costumed adventurer after the nefarious Purple Man emotionally manipulated her—inadvertently leading her into battle against two groups of heroes (Alias #25).

Jessica Jones: And, oh yeah, not only was it the Avengers that I happen to side swipe … But I pick a day where the Avengers and the Defenders, the old school classic Defenders, are doing some big team-up.

When exactly did this skirmish take place?

The following Avengers appeared in the flashbacks: Scarlet Witch, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Vision, Wasp, Beast, Jocasta, Wonder Man, and Ms. Marvel (Alias #26). That lineup loosely approximated the roster from Avengers #195-199 (May-Sept. 1980), including one or two heroes who were on leave but still appearing in the series at the time.

As for the Defenders, the flashbacks pictured Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Valkyrie (in her original costume). In other words, they appeared to be the non-team from Defenders #6 (June 1973). Perhaps time travel was responsible for the team-up between the "old school classic Defenders" and the later group of Avengers.

It's also possible that the early combination of Defenders temporarily regrouped around the time of Avengers #195-200. This simpler explanation requires some shoe-horning, however, since Clea used sorcery to redesign Valkyrie's costume in Defenders #47, and Valkyrie was magically unable to return to that original costume again until Defenders #89 (Nov. 1980).

After facing the Defenders and Avengers, Jessica Jones fell into a coma until receiving help from telepath Jean Grey of the X-Men. This would have occurred prior to the death of Phoenix (a.k.a. Jean Grey) in X-Men #137 (Sept. 1980) rather than after the return of Jean Grey in Avengers #263 (Jan. 1986), when all of the teams had vastly different members.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote the Alias series, which ran 28 issues.

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