The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Double Disguise

Avengers #119 (Jan. 1974) continued a comic book tradition of acknowledging the real-life Rutland Halloween Parade, where residents of the Vermont town celebrate in superhero attire. For several years in a row, Marvel Comics depicted parade organizer Tom Fagan dressed as Nighthawk, an ironic decision since Nighthawk was still a villain at the time.

Within the comic book, the devious Collector capitalized on this situation during Rutland's Fourteenth Annual Halloween Parade by wearing a Nighthawk costume to disguise himself as Tom Fagan. Anticipating that the Avengers would attend the festivities, as they had in the past, the Collector laid a trap to capture the heroes.

On a serendipitous note, the actual Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond) would soon reform from his criminal ways in Defenders #13 (May 1974) and redesign his costume as a hero.

Avengers. Vol. 1. No. 119. January 1974. "Night of the Collector." Steve Englehart (author), Bob Brown (artist), Don Heck (inker), Artie Simek (letterer), Glynis Wein (colorist), Roy Thomas (editor).

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Lost City of Atlantis

While investigating the disappearance of the S.S. Luxuria in the pages of Amazing Adventures #2 (June 1961), Dr. Droom discovered that the people of Atlantis had captured the ship as a first step in launching an all-out invasion of the surface world.

At the end of the story, Dr. Droom successfully hypnotized the green, fish-like Atlanteans into believing the surface world was an uninhabited wasteland. Concerned that knowledge of Atlantis would make humans too apprehensive to travel the seas, Dr. Droom also hypnotized the Luxuria passengers to forget their experience.

Perhaps coincidentally, the events in this story were compatible in a roundabout way with Sub-Mariner suffering from amnesia in Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962), his first published appearance in years.

When Weird Wonder Tales #22 (May 1977) reprinted this Dr. Droom tale, changing the character's name to Dr. Druid, an additional change occurred. The title of the story remained "The World Below!" But the underwater civilization changed from Atlantis to Aquatica, with no discernible ties to Sub-Mariner.

Weird Wonder Tales. Vol. 1. No. 22. May 1977. "The World Below!" A Stan Lee • Jack Kirby Masterwork. Inks by Dick Ayers.

Friday, August 28, 2020

The New Mutants

The New Mutants have, at best, a tertiary connection to the Defenders. Even though I've written next to nothing about superhero films since my first post, I wanted to acknowledge the theatrical release of The New Mutants. Originally slated to open two years ago, the highly anticipated film officially opened today, with limited seating to ensure social distancing during the pandemic.

The film draws inspiration from New Mutants #1-3, 18-19 of the original series while crafting a unique story. Eagerly catching a matinee, I liked the film's rendering of all the characters—in some cases better than their comic book counterparts. More cinematic thriller than action-adventure, the film shows the young mutants coming to terms with their powers without the conventions of heroic costumes or dual identities. The stakes are personal and contained, a refreshing change of pace from the cosmic threats that have become commonplace in superhero films.

As a pair, X-Men and X2 are my all-time favorite superhero films. The New Mutants wisely acknowledges the existence of the X-Men while working as a stand-alone picture.

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Discreet Debut of Dr. Druid

An earlier post on this blog noted how the first four appearances of Dr. Droom in Amazing Adventures #1-4 (Vol. 1) appeared years later in Weird Wonder Tales #19-22 … prominently reintroducing the mystical hero as Dr. Druid.

Interestingly, Dr. Droom had returned for a fifth appearance in Amazing Adventures #6 (Nov. 1961), which had the same publication cover date as Fantastic Four #1. But while the Fantastic Four would enjoy lasting success, launching a new generation of heroes in Marvel Comics, the character of Dr. Droom fell into obscurity.

In that fifth and final Dr. Droom adventure, an extraterrestrial menace named Krogg used advanced technology to send houses in the town of Greenbirch to another dimension. That five-page story was reprinted as a back-up feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing #3 (Feb. 1975), changing the name Dr. Droom to Dr. Druid two years before Weird Wonder Tales #19 (Feb. 1977) … and effectively making the last published appearance of Dr. Droom the first published appearance of Dr. Druid.

This image of Dr. Droom/Druid comes from the final page of the story "Krogg!"

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Fashion Faux Pas

During most of her time as leader of the New Defenders, Candy Southern wore conventional clothing rather than a heroic costume. That changed when the villain Manslaughter captured her, dressed her in a caped outfit with a bell-shaped insignia, and then programmed a holographic image of Candy announcing that her code name was Southern Belle. In the words of the real Candy Southern, however, the costume was "atrocious" (New Defenders #151).

Candy retained the Southern Belle costume throughout #152, with a slight alteration. Her bodice, which appeared consistently blue the previous issue, was now yellow. A reasonable explanation can be found in the credits, which show that a different colorist worked on each issue.

Petra Scotese colored the upper panel from New Defenders #151 (Jan. 1986). Ken Fedunieiwicz colored the lower panel from #152 (Feb. 1986).

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