The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Dungeons of Doom

The covers of Shanna The She-Devil (Feb. 1973) and Marvel Two-In-One #68 (Oct. 1980) each promoted a Dungeon of Doom! The dungeons inside the two issues, however, could not have been more different.

For Shanna, the dungeon was minimalistic. Captured by the underlings of crimelord El Montano, Shanna found herself bound on the floor of a holding cell. Imprisoned alongside Shanna were her two trained leopards, Biri and Ina. Although the heroine described El Montano's men as jackals, there were no actual jackals in the cell (in spite of the cover image). Shanna easily escaped, defeating the sword-bearing jailer standing guard at the cell door.

Thing and Angel, on the other hand, ran into each other at a new disco called Zanadu Zone, only to find themselves caught in the secret dungeon undearneath. Filled with mechanical traps and robots, the dungeon was the brainchild of Toad (one of the villainous Defenders for a Day and an original member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). After escaping, a sympathetic Angel agreed to pay off Toad's debts and finance a fun house called Toadland. Candy Southern was Angel's date to Zanadu Zone and again to Toadland.

Friday, November 20, 2020

All the World's a Stage

Dr. Strange #55 found the sorcerer supreme distraught. Clea had ended their relationship two issues before … a decision some time in the making.

Acting as a mystical guide, Dakimh the Enchanter visited Dr. Strange, who was experiencing visions that his life lacked substance—an understandable fear for a sorcerer who spent so much time traveling across dimensions. To Dr. Strange, his teammates in the Defenders were now a facade and his home was no more real than a theatrical set. Wandering outside, he saw a movie marquee promoting the film Doctor Strange II: Beyond Raggadorr! To the world, Dr. Strange was a fictional character.

An element of reverse psychology was at work here. In presenting Dr. Strange with visions that nothing in his life was real, the story showed the sorcerer how much he still had left.

This image from from Dr. Strange #55 (Oct. 1982) features Dakimh and Dr. Strange, with visions of Gargoyle, Daimon Hellstrom, Hellcat, and the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Mythology Lessons

Defenders #92 placed the non-team into pairs, with each heroic duo searching for various missing persons … missing persons who were in fact personified aspects of the entity Eternity. Mystically teleported by Dr. Strange, the mission took Hellcat and the Son of Satan to a temple in India, and Nighthawk and Hulk to a Russian village.

Meanwhile, Valkyrie and Sub-Mariner traveled to Patras, Greece, where a harpy reportedly had swooped down and carried off one of the missing men. Oddly, though, the flying creature in question resembled a gigantic bird rather than the bird-women of Greek mythology. During their quest, Valkyrie and Sub-Mariner also faced interference from Glaucus, a transformed fisherman from Greek mythology. With his fish-like tail, Glaucus emerged from the water and attacked the two heroes unexpectedly. It was left unsaid whether either hero actually recognized Glaucus or wondered whether the giant bird was technically a harpy.

During their teammates' journeys, Dr. Strange and Clea tried to magically restore Eternity itself.

The Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 92. February 1981. "Eternity … Humanity … Oblivion!" J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin & Pablo Marcos (artists), Diana Albers (letters), George Roussos (colorist), Al Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief). The so-called harpy in this story had no connection to the super-villain Harpy.

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Arrows of Golden Archer

In several of his comic book appearances, Golden Archer of the Squadron Supreme seemed to fire ordinary arrows. Other times, such as Defenders #113, he suffered defeat before taking his first shot. There were instances, however, when Golden Archer used specialized arrows in step with the superhero genre.

Avengers #147 (May 1976) showed Golden Archer wielding an explosive Detonation Arrow similar to Hawkeye's Blast Arrow, along with an ultra-sonic Siren Arrow with sonic effects resembling the vocal powers of Squadron member Lady Lark.

Squadron Supreme #4 (Dec. 1985) depicted a wider array of weaponry, as Golden Arrow fired Magnesium Flare Arrows, as well as an arrow that produced smoke to provide cover. He also referenced a Parachute Arrow that he did not have on hand at the time.

Acknowledgment goes out to the blog Dispatches from the Arrowcave for a series of posts about the trick arrows of Green Arrow, the DC hero who inspired the creation of Golden Archer.

This image of Golden Archer comes from Avengers #147.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Becoming Blue Eagle

While Nighthawk was the only member of the Defenders with a direct counterpart in the Squadron Supreme (a group pf heroes from a parallel Earth), other similarities existed between the teams. Although the two would never meet, Red Guardian—a Soviet crimefighter who joined the Defenders during the Cold War—had a politically contrasting counterpart in the Squadron.

Introduced in Avengers #85 (Feb. 1971), the Squadron Supreme included a headstrong hero originally called American Eagle. Upon meeting the Avengers, American Eagle jumped to the conclusion that the Avengers were enemy Communists.

American Eagle: I think they're a bunch of Reds--or at least Commie-symps!

The Squadron Supreme limited series would provide more background about the patriotic character, whose given name was James Dore. He was in fact the second hero on his Earth called American Eagle, as his father fought crime under that alias in an earlier group of crimefighters known as the Golden Agency. The limited series alluded to a falling out between the father and son, which could account for the younger character's decision to adopt a non-political costume and change his alias to Cap'n Hawk (as seen in Avengers #148; Defenders #112-114).

After his father's death (Squadron Supreme #1), Cap'n Hawk changed his costume and codename once more, now calling himself Blue Eagle (a nod to his original name of American Eagle and, indirectly, to his early distrust of Reds! Blue Eagle died in combat against the Redeemers, a band of heroes and villains who challenged the Squadron's Utopia Program (Squadron Supreme #12).

This image of Blue Eagle (left) comes from the deluxe edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Interestingly, the original entry for the Squadron Supreme in TOHOTMU #10 (Oct. 1983) listed James Dore as Condor, a codename he never used in the comic book stories. The preliminary design for Condor resembed the costume the character would wear as Blue Eagle.

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