The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Shuffling the Deck

Tarot #4 wrapped up the dimension-crossing limited series by centering on a band of heroes who were creative hybrids of longstanding members of the Avengers or Defenders. Leading the unnamed team was Major Gamma, a version of Captain America with green skin resulting from exposure to Gamma radiation (like the Hulk).

Perhaps the most imaginative character in the new group was Doc Surf, a trippy take on Doctor Strange, equipped with a supernatural surfboard (resembling the model flown by Silver Surfer).

Another notable member of the team was Imperius Hex (the Latin term Imperius Rex with an allusion to the hex powers of Scarlet Witch). With trident in hand and emblem on his bare chest, this mystical counterpart to Sub-Mariner had a striking resemblance to classic appearance of Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan.

The hybrid characters remained rather one-dimensional, though, as they soon restored the metaphysical breech that had brought them into existence and was wrecking havoc across the multi-universe.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Disregarding the Defenders

Avengers #137 is perhaps best known as the issue when Beast and Moondragon joined the team, long before their involvement with the Defenders. Wasp returned to active Avengers duty in #137, as well, bringing husband Yellowjacket along for the ride.

Wasp bemoaned how her "bullheaded better-half" had left her behind while adventuring in Giant-Size Defenders #4. Upon his return, Yellowjacket explained to his Avengers teammates how he wasn't "let go" from the Defenders, as the non-team lets heroes come and go as they please. Hawkeye, who had already returned to Avengers status after a stint with the Defenders, dismissed the non-team as "that crazy crew--"

Avengers. Vol. 1. No. 137. July 1975. "We Do Seek Out New Avengers!!" Steve Englehart (saga), George Tuska (art), Vince Colletta (embellishment), C. Jetter (lettering), P. Rachelson (coloring), Len Wein (editor).

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Introducing the Unbelievables

The reality-bending events in Tarot #3 placed the Defenders and Avengers in a dimension occupied by "funny animals" … including a super-powered team called the Unbelievables.

Although the Unbelievables weren't direct counterparts to specific superheroes, they drew upon a variety of tropes. For example, the green-skinned Mighty Martian could read as a nod to the Martian Manhunter of the Justice League.

The character Devil Dawg, meanwhile, initially resembled the Harvey Comics character Hot Stuff until transforming into a powerhouse able to hold his own against the Hulk. Other members of the Unbelievables were Vampire Vixen, Sun Wukong and Sha Wujing.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bet on Diablo

The prominent role that Diablo plays in the Tarot mini-series brought back memories of Alpha Flight #21 (April 1985). The cover of that issue featured Canadian heroes Sasquatch and Aurora battling the villainous alchemist. Text on the cover announced this ominous warning:

Bet on Diablo--
--He's been doing this for centuries!

The story itself did not include any fight scenes between Diablo and Alpha Flight, however. Rather, the inside flashed back back to the Transylvanian Alps in 1875, when Esteban Diablo was already 1,000 years old. Superstitious villagers destroyed his alchemy lab and trapped him in a tomb until freed in Fantastic Four #30 (Sept. 1964)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Tarot: The Devil in the Details

A number of heroes and villains have used Tarot cards to harness their superhuman abilities. One of the characters most worthy of discussion was the Hellion code-named Tarot. Like the other Hellions, Tarot was a student at the Massachusetts Academy and taught by the White Queen.

Introduced in New Mutants #16, Tarot used her mutant power to animate images from a Tarot deck, from the Knight of Swords to the Devil. Although Tarot ascribed mystical meaning to the cards, was her power truly bound by the 78 cards in the deck? Seeing how her power was mutant in nature, I suspect that Tarot had the potential to animate any picture she might see but didn't recognize the full scope of her abilities.

The above image come from New Mutants #16 (June 1984).

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