The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Offenders

In one of his cosmic challenges, the Grandmaster plucked Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, and Silver Surfer from different points in the past to battle the Offenders, a team of antagonists from the present.

If the heroes won, the Grandmaster would spare the lives of their romantic interests. But if the Offenders won, they could kill the heroes (Hulk #10).

  • Fighting for Clea, Dr. Strange faced rival magician Baron Mordo.
  • Fighting for Dorma, Namor battled the cybernetically enhanced Tiger Shark.
  • Fighting for Jarella (not Betty Ross), the Incredible Hulk defended against Red Hulk (a.k.a. General "Thunderbolt" Ross).
  • Fighting for Shalla-Bal, Silver Surfer clashed with Terrax.

Still loyal to Galactus at this point, this early version of Silver Surfer was in disbelief to hear that he would one day break his allegiance to Galactus and that Terrax would become the world-conquerer's next herald (#11).

In an act of betrayal, Red Hulk stole the scythe from Terrax and absorbed his teammate's cosmic energy, and then seized control of the Silver Surfer's board. These actions did not bode well with Galactus, who easily depleted Red Hulk's energy. As a further penalty for breaking the rules of the competition, Grandmaster returned the four heroes and the Offenders to their proper times with no memories of the events that had transpired (#12).

Jeph Loeb wrote Hulk #10-12 (April, June, July 2009). Ed McGuinness pencilled those issues.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Black Panther vs. Black Dragon

Everett K. Ross, special attaché for the U.S. State Department (and no apparent relation to Betty), awoke one day to find himself mystically transformed into the body of Mephisto. Turning for help, Ross arrived on the doorstep of Dr. Strange (Black Panther #34).

To his surprise, however, Ross was greeted (er, attacked) by the entire non-team from Defenders (Volume 2). Although Ross easily identified Hulk and Namor, he had trouble remembering the correct names for Valkyrie, Hellcat, Nighthawk, and even Dr. Strange—much less Silver Surfer.

As Ross explained that he wasn't really Mephisto, Dr. Strange sensed a spirit force that reminded him of Iron Fist. Just then, a mysterious figure impersonating Ross arrived on the scene and defeated everyone (Black Panther #35). The culprit responsible for the ruse was none other than Chiantang (a.k.a. the Black Dragon), an old enemy of Power Man and Iron Fist.

Not long afterward, Chiantang created a mystic imbalance within Iron Fist that set the hero into battle against Black Panther. (#39). Under this diabolical influence, the green portions of Iron Fist's costumed turned red—a visual phenomenon that harked back to Black Dragon's first attempt to corrupt Iron Fist (Power Man and Iron Fist #119).

Black Panther. Vol. 2. No. 34. September 2001. "Hell(o), I Must Be Going." Priest (writer), J. Calafiore (guest artist), Livesay (guest inker), Sharpefont & Paul Tutrone (lettering), VLM (colorist), Mike Raicht (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president).
Black Panther. Vol. 2. No. 35. October 2001. "Masks." Priest (writer), J. Calafiore (guest artist), Livesay (guest inker), Sharpefont & Paul Tutrone (lettering), VLM (colorist), Mike Raicht (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president).

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.

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