The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Defenders at Fifty

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Marvel Feature #1 (Dec. 1971), the first appearance of the Defenders. While I enjoy many of their early stories, particularly Defenders #13-16, I'd select #89-138 as my favorite fifty-issue run on the original series.

Given those preferences, it should come as no surprise that I think the preview cover of an upcoming Defenders series looks promising. The image shows the mysterious Masked Raider prompting Dr. Strange to bring together a new team of Defenders. Depicted on Tarot cards, the prospects are largely heroes who were Defenders at one point or another during the original series, including several members of the New Defenders.

As a non-team throughout much of their history, the Defenders attracted mystics, monsters, and iconoclasts while never gaining the foothold of the Avengers, X-Men, or Fantastic Four. In the thirteen years that I've been blogging about the Defenders, I've lost track of the numerous attempts to revamp the team, from Iron Man's vision for the Last Defenders to Heroes for Hire adopting the name Defenders more recently. All that being said, I hope this upcoming incarnation, with its nod to the past, will have some staying power.

Friday, May 7, 2021

All Winners Squad

Sub-Mariner has never been much of a team player—for good reason. A generation before he reluctantly joined the Defenders, the Prince of Atlantis had a turbulent experience with another superhero team in All Winners Comics #19 (Fall 1946).

The theft of several artifacts from a major museum prompted the original Human Torch and sidekick Toro to summon Captain America (with sidekick Bucky), Sub-Mariner, Miss America, and Whizzer. Known as the All Winners Squad, the group discovered a series of riddles left behind by a criminal mastermind called Isbisa. When the word romaN appeared among the clues, Human Torch asked Namor if he had orchestrated the crime as a practical joke. Namor felt insulted by the implication; only at the urging of Toro did Namor decide to stay with the team. The All Winners Squad regrouped two issues later to thwart Future Man and Madame Death (#21).

Coincidentally, Toro wore only trunks and boots as a costume and might have been mistaken for Namor's sidekick until activating his flame powers and thereby resembling a shorter version of the Human Torch.

The historical significance of the All Winners Squad diminished when retroactive continuity placed the Invaders during World War II, forming five years before the All Winners Squad.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Out of Obscurity

A somber tale from Marvel Comics Presents #40 (mid-December 1989) found Over-Mind living in Millwood, New Hampshire, the site of extensive toxic waste leakage. Needing a sense of a purpose after leaving the Defenders, Over-Mind decided to use his mental powers to alleviate the Millwood residents of their distress by making them believe they were still in good health. The powerful telepath removed the mental illusion once medical help arrived to treat the townspeople.

In a change of pace, Over-Mind and numerous other characters who had appeared in Marvel Comics Presents joined forces in What The--?! #9 (Oct. 1990). The story parodied Giant-Size X-Men #1, with Over-Mind, Paladin, El Águila, and numerous other heroes replacing the original Echs-Men. Sunfire was the only character in that spoof who also appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1.

Scott Lobdell wrote "…Anything" (Marvel Comics Presents #40) and "Second Guesses" (What The--?! #9), showing he had a sense of humor about his own work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sub-Mariner Meets the Creature from the Black Lagoon

In 1954, the same year that The Creature from the Black Lagoon premiered in theaters, Prince Namor faced a menace with a striking resemblance to the Hollywood monster. The story opened with Namor showing his friend Betty Dean a letter asking for help. The ambiguous letter was signed by a Professor Zunbar (Sub-Mariner Comics #35).

Going to the address on the letter, Namor entered a waterfront building only to find himself overpowered by a pair of mechanical robots. The robots reported to Professor Zunbar, who intended to surgically tranfer Namor's brain in the body of Elmer, a green amphibion the professor had created. Among his character flaws, Elmer was afraid of water.

Namor narrowly escaped from the surgical table and turned Professor Zunbar over to the police. As for Elmer, the creature apparently died when a box of nitroglycerin he'd gotten hold of exploded.

Triplicate explanation points appeared at the end of several sentences of dialogue in the story, appropriately titled "Vengeance!!!"

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Hellcatmobile

In an apparent nod to the Batmobile, Defenders #63 introduced the Hellcatmobile. But where did Hellcat get her new set of wheels?

Defenders #59 showed Hellcat pining for a red vehicle that belonged to Nighthawk (with KYLE 3 written on the back). Since Nighthawk didn't seem inclined to hand the car over to her, there might be a more creative explanation. Defenders #61 showed Hellcat practicing with the Shadow Cloak she had on loan from Devil-Slayer. Perhaps Hellcat used the Shadow Cloak to pull her own Hellcatmobile from another dimension.

This panel featuring the Hellcatmobile comes from Defenders #63.

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