Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Riddle Me This...

Here's a lighthearted ad for the New Defenders that appeared the back cover of Marvel Age #7 (October 1983).

In retrospect the riddle reads like a trick question, of course, since more than two mutants formed the New Defenders. But there may have been sound reasons to frame the question that way.

With more-or-less symmetry, the ad used only images on the front cover of Defenders #124, which was on sale that same month. And only two of the heroes spotlighted on that cover were mutants.

Even so, the puzzle continues...

QUESTION: Why were Angel, Beast, Valkyrie, and Gargoyle the only New Defenders pictured on the cover of Defenders #124?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Brokenhearted

When the Hulk got mad, the Defenders grew concerned—not only for their teammate but also for the public at large.

So when an angry Hulk outmaneuvered even Dr. Strange by figuring a way out of the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak, the Defenders knew this was serious business (Incredible Hulk #207).

But what had caused the Hulk to become so upset?

The love of his life had died.

First introduced in Incredible Hulk #140, when Hulk shrank into another universe, Jarella was a rare woman indeed. The green-skinned empress from another world developed romantic feelings for both Bruce Banner and Hulk—and the culmination of the two.

But tragedy struck during Jarella's first visit to Earth. As the Hulk did battle with Crypto-Man, the villain threw a car at the hero. The car struck a building instead, causing a wall to collapse. Jarella ran to rescue a boy who was in harm's way. Yet as she pushed the boy the safety, Jarella was crushed by falling bricks. Soon afterward, Doc Samson pronounced her dead (#205).

Emotionally devastated, Hulk searched the streets for Dr. Strange, the one person who might have the power to resurrect Jarella.

With the Hulk at large, military personnel tried again and again to apprehend the Hulk, disrupting his quest for the magician (#206).

The Defenders managed to calm the Hulk by the end of #207. After learning what had happened Jarella, Dr. Strange regretted that he could not bring her back to life.

Dr. Strange: I am truly touched that you place so much faith in me Hulk--but there is much that even I cannot accomplish. The forces of life and death weave a most delicate tapestry indeed--one that cannot easily be tampered with!
Under the circumstances, there was little the Defenders could do to console their friend.
The image of the Hulk at the top of this post comes from The Incredible Hulk #207.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Crimson Bands

Responding to one of Hulk's perpetual rampages, Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, and Red Guardian arrived to stop their temperamental teammate.

When reasoning didn't work, Dr. Strange cast the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to magically ensnare the green goliath (Incredible Hulk #207).

The spell had worked before within the Defenders own series. All things considered, the Crimson Bands seemed like the most reliable way to restrain Hulk.

But this time the Defenders were in for a surprise.
.Since he couldn't break free, Hulk used his renowned leaping ability to propel himself upward—inside the Crimson Bands—and then plummet back down with impressive force.

Dr. Strange then cast the Shield of the Seraphim to keep everyone safe. But with the magician's concentration divided, the Crimson Bands vanished, and the Hulk escaped.

To be continued…
The Incredible Hulk. Vol. 1. No. 207. January 1977. "Alone Against the Defenders!" Len Wein (writer/editor), Sal Buscema & Joe Staton (illustrations), Glynis Wein (colorist), Irv Watanabe (letterer).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Gray

Before she became Hellcat, Patsy Walker was Beast's only friend during a time of crisis.

After Hank McCoy first transformed into his furry form, he suffered amnesia and act out in a violent state of confusion (Amazing Adventures #11). At this time, the Beast's fur was gray and his misanthropic disposition resembled that of the Hulk (who coincidentally had gray skin during his debut in Incredible Hulk #1).

When newlywed Patsy (Walker) Baxter found Beast wounded on her doorstep, she was well aware that authorities pegged Beast as a new menace (unrecognizable as the X-Man he once was). Believing that any creature deserved compassion, Patsy harbored Beast long enough for him to recover (Amazing Adventures #15).

As Patsy watched over the sleeping Beast, he murmured that his real name was Hank McCoy and uttered other details about his past. In front of Patsy's eyes, Beast's fur changed from gray to black (suggesting that his mental state was linked to his appearance at the time).

When Beast awoke. Patsy told him all she had overheard. With Beast's memory now intact, Patsy kept his true identity a secret even from her husband.

But Patsy's motives didn't remain altruistic. Once Beast gained acclaim as an Avenger (and his fur turned blue), Patsy needled Beast to use his connections to make her a superhero too.

As Beast now opted to make his true identity publicly known, Patsy embraced the opportunity to develop her own double-identity as Hellcat (#144).

Amazing Adventures. Vol. 2. No. 15. November 1972. "Murder in Mid-Air!" Steve Englehart (scripter), Tom Sutton, Frank Giacoia, John Tartag (artists), Jean Izzo (letterer), Roy Thomas (editor).

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