The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On a Hot Tin Roof

In her short-lived comic book series, the Cat repeatedly faced male opponents who underestimated her capabilities specifically because she was a woman. In the Cat Scratches letters column, readers commented on the feminist themes within the series, and the portrayal of the title character. Here is one letter published in The Cat #4 (June 1973).

Dear Stan,

THE CLAWS OF THE CAT was well-written, well-drawn, well-inked, well-lettered, and well-colored. So what am I writing about? I'm writing about a comic mag that is good, but is flawed and will be ruined by Women's Lib sayings.

Equal pay for equal work is fair and just, and it's the right way. But all that stuff about "male chauvinist pigs" and women being "sex objects" is a lotta (CENSORED). Anyway, what's wrong with being a sex object?

Bryan Newman

Here was the editorial reply:

Apparently, Bryan, you've never been whistled and leered at on a street corner. Or had a sensitive extremity pinched in an elevator car. Or been treated with disdain because you dared show some grain of intelligence. Or been refused a job because you might become pregnant.

But those are the things that are wrong with being a "sex object". And the whole point is … people shouldn't be treated as any kind of object! We don't consume human beings the way we do noodle soup. Or at least … we're not supposed to Think of it.

Meanwhile, we're glad you're enthusiastic about the CLAWS OF THE CAT. And, while we do plan to soft-pedal the rhetoric (and let the plots make our point instead), we felt we had to answer your query directly.

Till next ish: purr softly … and carry a big stick!

The Cat #4, however, was the last issue of the series. The character next appeared in Giant-Size Creatures #1, when she transformed into Tigra.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dream Sequence

During a dream sequence in Alias #21, on-again, off-again hero Jessica Jones imagined herself standing among Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie.

With the exception of Nighthawk, these were the same Defenders seen in flashbacks in Alias #25. Given her retcon history, of course, all accounts of Jessica Jones entail an added layer of subjectivity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

When Did Jessica Jones Battle the Avengers and Defenders?

Through a series of flashbacks, Jessica Jones described how she retired from her career as a costumed adventurer after the nefarious Purple Man emotionally manipulated her—inadvertently leading her into battle against two groups of heroes (Alias #25).

Jessica Jones: And, oh yeah, not only was it the Avengers that I happen to side swipe … But I pick a day where the Avengers and the Defenders, the old school classic Defenders, are doing some big team-up.

When exactly did this skirmish take place?

The following Avengers appeared in the flashbacks: Scarlet Witch, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Vision, Wasp, Beast, Jocasta, Wonder Man, and Ms. Marvel (Alias #26). That lineup loosely approximated the roster from Avengers #195-199 (May-Sept. 1980), including one or two heroes who were on leave but still appearing in the series at the time.

As for the Defenders, the flashbacks pictured Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Valkyrie (in her original costume). In other words, they appeared to be the non-team from Defenders #6 (June 1973). Perhaps time travel was responsible for the team-up between the "old school classic Defenders" and the later group of Avengers.

It's also possible that the early combination of Defenders temporarily regrouped around the time of Avengers #195-200. This simpler explanation requires some shoe-horning, however, since Clea used sorcery to redesign Valkyrie's costume in Defenders #47, and Valkyrie was magically unable to return to that original costume again until Defenders #89 (Nov. 1980).

After facing the Defenders and Avengers, Jessica Jones fell into a coma until receiving help from telepath Jean Grey of the X-Men. This would have occurred prior to the death of Phoenix (a.k.a. Jean Grey) in X-Men #137 (Sept. 1980) rather than after the return of Jean Grey in Avengers #263 (Jan. 1986), when all of the teams had vastly different members.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote the Alias series, which ran 28 issues.

Friday, September 12, 2014

His and Hers

A curse from the evil wizard Yandroth that compelled Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, and Dr. Strange to band together later accentuated the most intimidating aspects of their personalities. Instead of protecting humanity, the four heroes set out to impose their own brand of tyranny as The Order, the title of a six-issue limited series packaged with Defenders (Volume 2).

Dressing the part, Sub-Mariner brought back his jacketed threads from Super-Villain Team-Up, and Dr. Strange returned to the masked costume he wore shortly before forming the original Defenders.

Appropriately enough, the gray-skinned Hulk appeared in The Order #1-4. Yet his hedonism proved so bothersome that Dr. Strange magically transformed Hulk into the green goliath who fought alongside the original Defenders. But when that brutish Hulk rejected the world-conquering ideals of the Order, Dr. Strange turned him into the "Professor" Hulk with the intelligence of Bruce Banner.

Perhaps because Yandroth had once taken the form of a woman (Defenders #119), removing the curse required a female analogue to each member of the Order.

To this end, Nighthawk, Hellcat, and Valkyrie (Samantha Parryington) sought help from Namorita and She-Hulk (cousins of Sub-Mariner and Bruce Banner), along with Clea, who leveraged a magical attack that caused Silver Surfer to "bleed" light, which took the form of a new cosmic heroine called Ardina (The Order #4).

Accompanying the Defenders on their quest to stop the Order was Dr. Christopher Ganyrog, Scientist Supreme on Yandroth's homeworld of Yann, located in the system of Geulischwarz (The Order #5). Furthering the theme of female characters derived from males, Ganyrog referred to his adventuring partner as Romantic Objective Pamela.

Jo Duffy and Kurt Busiek wrote The Order #1-6 (April-September 2002).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Order of the Order

On one hand, The Order was a six-issue limited series featuring the Defenders. On the other hand, The Order was a continuation of Defenders (Volume 2), which ran for 12 issues.

Through a creative use of cover numbering, The Order #1 combined both perspectives and displayed 1 with 13 nested inside.

Likewise, The Order #2 displayed 2 with 14 nested inside. The pattern continued through the duration of the series, with The Order #6 displaying 6 with 18 inside.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Assembly Required

The alternate reality in What if? Age of Ultron #2 flashed forward to a speculative future where a salty Wolverine assembled a one-time team consisting of Spider-Man, Hulk, and a new Ghost Rider (a call back to the Secret Defenders from Fantastic Four #374).

Long retired from his crime-fighting days as Spider-Man, the Peter Parker in this future was living in Rutland, Vermont. He moved there, at least in part, because of the city's tradition of throwing memorable Halloween parades.

Hulk, meanwhile, was now decidedly non-violent and residing on Mount Song, China. Through the practice of Zen meditation, the green goliath had found peace of mind in his own right—without integrating the personality of Dr. Bruce Banner.

What If? Age of Ultron. No.2. June 2014. Joe Keatinge (writer), Ramon Villalobos (artist), Ruth Redmond (colorist), VC's Joe Sabino (letterer), Jon Moisan (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief).

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