The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Monday, April 21, 2014

On the Edge of Forever

When Dr. Strange cast a cloaking spell to disguise both himself and Sub-Mariner as ordinary people in Defenders #4 (Volume 3), he took wardrobe advice from Star Trek. The spell logically dressed Sub-Mariner in a stocking cap to cover his pointed ears, much like the hat Mr. Spock wore in The City of the Edge of Forever to cover his similarly pointed ears. Dr. Strange, meanwhile, wore a red, flannel shirt reminiscent of the shirt Capt. Kirk wore that same episode.
Note the reverse symmetry regarding the other color choices: While Kirk's jacket was brown and Spock's hat was blue, Sub-Mariner wore a brown hat and Dr Strange had a blue jacket.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hulk, Hulk, Gray Hulk

Bruce Banner's irritable alter ego had gray skin during his initial transformations in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962), and then began turning green with #2. Throughout his early exploits and quarrelsome dealings with the original Avengers, Hulk was befuddled at times but remained reasonably articulate nonetheless.

By the time the Defenders formed in Marvel Feature #1 (December 1971), however, Hulk's vocabulary was simplistic. This held true throughout his lengthy membership with the non-team (outside of the rare occasion when Hulk retained the brains of Bruce Banner).

When Banner later began transforming regularly into the gray-skinned Hulk, his verbal skills returned to the level they had been during Hulk's first appearances. This gray variation of the character was now distinct from stupefied green Hulk.

Yet the gray version of Hulk retained a modicum of loyalty to Sub-Mariner and Dr. Strange just the same. When the three heroes teamed up in The Incredible Hulk #370-371 (June-July 1990), they considered the adventure a reunion of the original Defenders.

In making their re/acquaintance, gray Hulk took to referring to Stephen Strange as Steve instead of calling him Magician as green Hulk had done.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fantastic Four Roast

Comedically covered by Fred Hembeck, Fantastic Four Roast #1 informally commemorated the 20th anniversary of Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961).

Numerous heroes attended the event, with Hulk, Dr. Strange, Nighthawk, Gargoyle, Hellcat, Daimon Hellstrom, and Valkyrie (with Aragorn) arriving together as Defenders.

Iceman and Angel understandably arrived with their former teammates in the X-Men. Yet when time came to roast the Fantastic Four, those two mutants got up and assembled with the Avengers.

Unlike Quicksilver (who arrived with the Inhumans but roasted with the Avengers), neither Iceman nor Angel had ever been Avengers. Reluctant to chalk this up as an in-joke or flat-out oversight, I've long suspected that Iceman and Angel initially were intended to join in Avengers #211.

The Defenders, incidentally, did not stand up as a group to roast the Fantastic Four, but Dr. Strange and Hulk were among the many heroes to make individual speeches.

Fantastic Four Roast. Vo. 1. No. 1. May 1982. "When Titans Chuckle!" Fred Hembeck (story & layouts), Jim Shooter (plot assist & editing), Almost Everybody (art), Joe Rosen (lettering), Wein / Yanchus (coloring), Irving Forbush (catering).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scourge of the Underworld

In one of the best executed cross-over events, a vigilante known as Scourge of the Underworld oversaw the assassination of numerous super-villains.

Granted, some of the villains Scourge targeted were as forgettable as Blowtorch Brand, who first appeared in New Defenders #135 and died in U.S. Agent #2.

But others were more significant.

A longtime enemy of the Avengers, Melter was plotting revenge at the time of his death (Avengers #263). Melter previously joined an eclectic hoard of costumed criminals who claimed to be Defenders … until the real non-team stopped them that same day (Defenders #64).

Miracle Man, one of the earliest foes of the Fantastic Four, died while trying to forge a criminal partnership with Rhino (Thing #24). Miracle Man once grabbed more power by donning the darksoul of Daimon Hellstrom (Defenders #120-121).

Ringer, who made his criminal debut battling Nighthawk (Defenders #51), was among a roomful of super-villains massacred by Scourge (Captain America #319) … although later issues revealed that Ringer survived the assault.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Defenders Remembered

When dangerous radiation levels mysteriously contaminated parts of the ocean, Prince Namor returned to the Earth's surface to seek help from scientific genius Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic). But the preoccupied Atlantean wasn't quite himself. Although he recognized Hulk when they crossed paths on the street, only after a memory-jogging conversation with Nighthawk did Namor recall that he had once been a member of the Defenders and agree to accept their assistance instead (Defenders #52).

The Defenders last saw the Prince of Atlantis when he came to the aid of Nighthawk in Giant-Size Defenders #3. But what had he been doing ever since?

During that interim, Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1-2 and Super-Villain Team-Up #1-13 featured the unlikely pairing of Prince Namor and Dr. Doom, ruler of Latveria. Reasoning that he needed the help of another monarch to successfully overthrow the rest of the world, Dr. Doom had tried to both entice and coerce Prince Namor in assisting him.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

The last survivors of their respective homeworlds, the Guardians of the Galaxy traveled from the 31st century to present-day Earth to obtain records about the Badoon, extraterrestrials intent on invading the planet. But the mission proved more existential than informative.

Charlie-27 (from Earth's Jupiter colony), was particularly taken aback by the current state of human civilization (Giant-Size Defenders #5).

A temporal distortion that coincided with the arrival of the Guardians of the Galaxy attracted the attention of Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, Hulk, and Nighthawk, while calling forth the monstrous Eelar.

An added complication involved a chance meeting between the heroes and young Vance Astrovik (whose adult counterpart would join the Guardians of the Galaxy after taking a thousand-year trek into space).

The adult Vance Astro later tried to persuade his younger self to forego any dreams of becoming an astronaut and thereby avoid the loneliness he would face as a man out of time (Marvel Two-in-One #69). Other original members of the Guardians of the Galaxy were Martinex (from Earth's colony on Pluto) and Yondu (native of Centauri-IV).

The team also made guest appearances in Defenders #26-29.

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