The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Defenders of the Earth

When Marvel launched Star Comics in the 1980s to appeal to young readers, one of the titles added to the imprint was Defenders of the Earth. The short-lived series reintroduced several characters who originally appeared in newspaper comic-strips during the 1930s.

  • Flash Gordon, a football hero turned space adventurer. His classic nemesis, Ming the Merciless, became the overarching enemy of the Defenders of the Earth.
  • Mandrake the Magician, a mentalist with hypnotic and illusion-casting abilities. An updated version of his colleague Lothar fought alongside the heroic team as well.
  • The Phantom, an athletic jungle adventurer rumored to be an immortal ghost.

Like other Star Comics, Defenders of the Earth took place outside of the the mainline Marvel Universe. But Mandrake and the Phantom certainly would have meshed well with the Defenders non-team.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work for Bob McCoy (son of Wilson McCoy, one of the early illustrators of the Phantom). Bob told stories of modeling adventurous poses as a youth, so his father would have a point of reference when he drew the comic strip.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Not According to Plan

One of the X-men's earliest enemies was an extraterrestrial known as Lucifer (no relation to Daimon Hellstrom). But the antagonistic alien vanished into obscurity after his appearance in Captain America #178 (Oct. 1974).

Dominus, another agent from Lucifer's homeworld, later set out to conquer Earth. Establishing his base of operations in the Arizona desert, Dominus prepared to encounter the New Defenders (including three of the original X-Men who had battled Lucifer).

Dominus also anticipated fighting the Rangers, who had formed by answering a distress call intended for the Avengers in The Incredible Hulk #265 (Nov. 1981).

The would-be conquerer ultimately suffered defeat in West Coast Avengers #24 (Sept. 1987). In their defense, however, the New Defenders were no longer a team by that point and the Rangers were rather loosely organized to begin with—as suggested with Red Wolf's guest appearance in New Defenders #139 (Jan. 1985).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Freudian Fun

What better place for happy-go-lucky Hellcat to face her personal demons than the pages of What The--?! Switching back and forth between the two genres of teen-humor and superhero comics, Patsy Walker saw her life as Hellcat collide with her deceptively picturesque past (#7).

Within the bending reality, teenage Patsy Walker's clothing options included an ironically out-of-place X-Men uniform. Meanwhile, boyfriend Buzz wore star-spangled shorts—with a caption crediting their design to Lynda Carter (TV's Wonder Woman). Buzz, of course, later became the villain Mad-Dog.

As Hellcat, Patsy discovered that her biggest threat wasn't a costumed super villain—it was her demanding mother! Returning from the grave in the haunting guise of Death, Mrs. Walker long considered her daughter a disappointment.

In a surrealistic move, Hellcat ripped her mother off the page and out of her life.

What The--?! Vol. 1. No. 7. April 1990. "Patsy Walker." Richard Howell (script, art, letters & colors), Terry Kavanaugh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief).

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Air Mail

Beginning with New Defenders #137, the series changed the name of the letters column from Defenders Dialogue (as it appeared through #136) to Air Mail.

Incorporating Angel into the new Air Mail heading jazzed up the letters page and drew attention to the high-flying hero, who played more or less a supporting role within the series.

This design also harked back to early issues of the X-Men (#4-13, #15-22), which pictured Angel flying alongside the nameplate on the cover.

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