The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Ambiguous Amphibian

Introduced in Avengers #148 as the resident water-breather of the Squadron Supreme, the character Amphibion was an homage to Aquaman of the Justice League of America. In fact, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe revealed that Amphibion's given name was Kingsley Rice, a play on Aquaman's secret identity of Arthur Curry.

During a showdown between the Squadron Supreme and the Avengers (#148), Amphibion faced Hellcat on her first adventure since donning the costume previously worn by the hero Cat. Reminiscent of the chauvinism Cat had faced, Amphibion dismissed Hellcat as a member of the "weaker sex"; Hellcat, however, easily defeated him.

During that first appearance, Amphibion commented on his mother's human heritage, implying that his father wasn't human. Amphibion also described himself as "King of the Seven Seas" (not necessarily a royal title like Prince of Atlantis).

By the time the Squadron Supreme appeared in Defenders 112-114, Amphibion had changed the spelling of his name to Amphibian.

In the 12-part Squadron Supreme limited series, Amphibian referred to his "sea-born muscles" (#4) and "my native ocean" (#6) without offering further insight into his past.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (deluxe edition) described Amphibian as a mutant, yet the possibility of a more complicated origin remains. After all, the half-human, half-Atleantean Sub-Mariner met the criteria for membership in Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

This image of Amphibian appeared with the Squadron Supreme entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (deluxe edition).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Happy New Year!!

At various times during its publication history, Marvel Age magazine ran a one-month calendar on the back cover, noting the birthdays of Marvel staff and including comedic bits. The calendar for December 1985 had room for a cheerful illustration wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

Comic books and other magazines often display a cover date set a few months in the future of the release date. In this case, that December 1985 calendar appeared on the back of Marvel Age #35 (cover date March 1986).

This makes Valkyrie's appearance in the New Year's scene especially noteworthy, as the future of the character was indeterminate as of New Defenders #152 (cover date February 1986). Given the character's longstanding history with the Defenders, I'm glad Marvel's creative team featured her in the end-of-the-year celebration.

That December calendar also noted Marvel staff with birthdays that month, most notably Stan Lee on December 28.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Stop the Train

The Defenders: The Best Defense #1 brought together four iconic members of the non-team, with Silver Surfer's board rescuing Sub-Mariner, and a future version of Dr. Strange enlisting the help of present-day Hulk. The story also included a surprise return of Nebulon (last seen in humanoid form in Avengers Annual #11).

The ultimate nemesis for the reunited Defenders, however, was the Conductor, a cosmic entity steering a metaphysical train that devours realities for fuel. Aspects of the Conductor are reminiscent of the Concordance Engines foreshadowed in Point One and appearing in Matt Fraction's 12-issue, time-traveling run on the Defenders (Volume 4). I'd like to imagine this is more than a coincidence.

This image of Nebulon in his true form comes from The Defenders: The Best Defense #1 (February 2019).

Monday, December 17, 2018


Silver Surfer: The Best Defense #1 revisits the character's origin and melancholic status as the herald of Galactus. Breaking up the drama is a young bystander who is under the impression that the Silver Surfer's actual name is Harold.

The hero's given name, of course, is Norrid Radd.

Silver Surfer: The Best Defense. No. 1. February 2019. Jason Latour (writer/artist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Alanna Smith (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor).

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Strange Ways

Dr. Strange: The Best Defense #1 shows the sorcerer late in life—arguably the last defender of a desolate Earth. Keeping him company is the enchanted head of Hulk, mystically modified to grow more powerful by absorbing magical energy. The story ends in an explosive showdown with Dr. Strange and Hulk against the malevolent Dormammu.

Furthering the subplot from previous Best Defense stories, a character in a ghost costume stabs another unsuspecting alien victim at an unspecified place and time.

Dr. Strange: The Best Defense. No. 1. February 2019. Gerry Duggan (writer). Greg Smallwood (artist). VC's Cory Petit (letterer). Alanna Sith (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor).

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