The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Madame Olga

Experiencing something of a mid-life crisis, a melancholic Adam Henderson sought guidance from a carnival soothsayer named Madame Olga. Adam had worked as a high school English teacher for eight years but dreamed of being a professional musician.

Madame Olga, on the other hand, was a charlatan who only pretended to have psychic powers; her crystal ball was a prop she'd purchased for $1.98. So Madame Olga was understandably shocked when her so-called "mystic crystal" filled with images as Adam sat down to speak (Ghost Rider #71).

Adam described how a race of winged beings called the S'raphh had ventured into space in search of the reason for being. The S'raphh never found the ultimate truth, however, and their despair led them to a point of racial suicide. The negative emotions from the collective unconsciousness of the S'raphh brought forth the evil being called Null—the Living Darkness!

Originally defeated in Defenders #103, a bitter Null traveled to Earth in energy form to merge with a human. With his despondent disposition, Adam Henderson proved to be a compatible physical host.

Null proceeded to go on a minor rampage until the hero Ghost Rider used his hell-fire powers to banish Null from Adam's body. Following the experience, Adam gained new appreciation for life and for his dedicated wife, Maureen.

Ghost Rider. Vol. 1. No. 71. August 1982. "The Tears of Adam Henderson." J.M. DeMatteis (scripter), Don Perlin (breakdowns), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Diana Albers (letterer), George Roussos (colorist), Tom DeFalco (editor), Jim Shooter (chief).
Null would return much more powerful in Defenders #113.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Avenging Wasp

Almost any issue of the Defenders shows the non-team defending themselves against something or another. In contrast, however, how much avenging do the Avengers actually do?

Seeing how it was Wasp who suggested the group name in Avengers #1, the cover of Marvel Team-Up #59 stands out. Here we see Wasp promising to avenge the death of her husband, Yellowjacket. Though not identifiable from the cover, the villain at hand is Equinox (previously seen in #23).

For better or worse, Yellowjacket is merely presumed dead in #59. The hero safely returns the following issue with a rather complicated account of escaping death.

Marvel Team-Up. Vol. 1. No. 59. July 1977. "Some Say Spidey Will Die By Fire … Some Say By Ice!" Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (artist), Dave Hunt (inker/colorist), B. Patterson (letterer), A. Goodwin (editor). Dedicated—with respect and admiration—to Roy Thomas.

Monday, January 28, 2019

In the Cards

Power Man & Iron Fist #64 pits the heroic duo against evil brothers Muerte (Death) and Suerte (Luck). Suerte's talents enable him to win a game of poker against other crime bosses within the issue. Although Suerte uses ordinary playing cards in the story, the cover creatively pictures the heroes and villains on a hand of cards. Trying to find irrefutable meaning in the cards, however, is challenging.

As the stars of the series, Power Man and Iron Fist both appear on the cover as Aces. Power Man's suit is Clubs while Iron Fist is Diamonds. (Within the issue, incidentally, Bob Diamond of the Sons of the Tiger describes himself as an "ace" martial artist and a sparring partner to Iron Fist.)

As for the villains, Suerte appears as the Eight of Diamonds—the same suit as Iron Fist. Suerte's pet cat is also an Eight but instead holds the suit of Clubs—the same suit as Power Man. Meanwhile, Muerte appears as the Jack of Spades—a different rank and suit from everyone else on the cover.

Bob Layton illustrated Power Man & Iron Fist #64 (August 1980).

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.

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