Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Full Circle

Following New Defenders #152, Valkyrie led an unlikely band of adventurers in battle on another plane of existence. Through the borderlands between life and death, her teammates consisted of Andromeda, the once-treacherous Manslaughter, and the extra-dimensional Interloper.

But they would not stay trapped forever; the cover of Strange Tales #5 promised the return of the New Defenders.

On an expedition to the Himalayas, Stephen Strange and his apprentice Rintrah sought to journey to the remote location where Dr. Strange had learned the mystic arts. When evil forces prevented the duo from magically transporting into the hidden lamasery, they enlisted the help of a mountain guide named Jigme, who recalled pointing Stephen Strange in the direction of the Ancient One years before.

Jigme: And I remember an American surgeon with whiskey-breath who gave me the last of his money to take him to the Ancient One so that his shaking hands could be cured.

Dr. Strange explained that he was now the sorcerer supreme, and the seasoned guide agreed to assist. While leading Dr. Strange and Rintrah through the snow and toward their destination, Jigme slipped down the mountainside and lay critically wounded.

In her mythic role as guide to fallen heroes, Valkyrie then appeared to deliver disheartening news.
  • If Dr. Strange used his magic to prevent Jigme from dying, he and Rintrah would not be strong enough to battle the evil forces awaiting them ahead.
  • If Dr. Strange allowed Jigme to die, a magical balancing act could allow the four Defenders to return to the land of the living—giving the two sorcerers the backup they needed.

The two heroes did not mince words while debating the dilemma.
Dr. Strange: What you're asking me to perform is a blood sacrifice! The foulest of all rites of black magic! I won't do it! I can't do it!
Valkyrie: Stephen, it's exactly the type of sacrifice that ages ago first bound the evils you now fight! He's dying anyway! And we're no ghastly undead--we are the Defenders! Manslaughter--Interloper--Andromeda--and me! Let us help you, Stephen!

In a morally dubious decision, Dr. Strange followed Valkyrie's pragmatic advice and did not intervene as Jigme died. The Defenders accompanied Dr. Strange and Rintrah through Strange Tales #7, in a crossover storyline with Cloak and Dagger against the entity Nightmare.
Strange Tales. Vol. 2. No. 5. August 1987. "The Snows of Yesteryear." Peter Gillis (script), Larry Alexander (pencils), Randy Emberlin (inks), Janice Chiang (letters), Bob Sharen (colors), Carl Potts (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief).

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