Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Omega Connection

While reading Silver Surfer's meeting with the mysterious Omega Council in Defenders #11 (Vol. 4), I immediately thought of the deceased hero called Omega.

Only after the cancellation of the 10-issue series Omega the Unknown did the hero learn his origin. Omega and youthful "sidekick" James-Michael Starling were in fact biological constructs sent to Earth by metallic lifeforms on another planet that faced extinction. Omega and Starling both died in Defenders #76-77 (Vol. 1). The metallic extraterrestrials designed additional constructs to send to other worlds as well. My initial suspicions aside, however, these beings do not appear to have ties to the recently revealed Omega Council.

Well-known for his use of monikers, Hulk repeatedly referred to the hero Omega as "Curly-Hair" during a guest appearance in Omega the Unknown #2 (May 1976), a story referenced in Defenders #39.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sweet Christmas!

One of the most memorable catch-phrases in comics was Power Man's exclamation "Sweet Christmas" (or "Christmas" for short). Here are instances when he used the expression among the Defenders.

Fighting Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew in Defenders #18.

Power Man: (Thinking) Christmas! That freakin' ball of his is like a blasted boomerang--

Riding on Daimon Hellstrom's chariot through a teleportation portal (#24).

Power Man: Christmas! The horses! Th-they're bein' swallowed up--by a freakin' hole in the air!!

Returning through the portal (#25).

Hellstrom: You and I and my demon chariot have re-entered the physical plane--and Valkyrie is nowhere in sight.
Power Man: (Spotting Dr. Strange and Nighthawk) Right on--but wait'll you turn around an' see who is! Christmas!

After a spell backfired and electrically shocked Dr. Strange (#38).

Power Man: Sweet Christmas. man--you tryin' t'outdo Ben Franklin or what?!

On saving the "world gone sane" in Defenders Annual #1.

Power Man: Christmas! I ain't even sure what we're trying to save!
The above image appeared with Marvel Comics subscription ads in 1980.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spotlight on Devil-Slayer

Eric Simon Payne thought he found purpose in life when he accepted an offer to join a mysterious cult and underwent an initiation to become a "reaper" … until discovering the cult's plan to call forth a long-dead race of demons, that is. Equipped with a magical sword and cloak, he took the name Devil-Slayer and eagerly set out to stop the forces of evil (Marvel Spotlight #33).

But for all his good intentions, Devil-Slayer had a hard time as a hero.

On his first adventure, Devil-Slayer picked a fight with Deathlok, mistaking the cybernetic crimefighter for a demon.

Ironically, in the recap of his origin story, Devil-Slayer thought that his own self-described "eerie sixth sense" was one of the reasons the demonic cult originally recruited him.

Marvel Spotlight. Vol. 1. No. 33. April 1977. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper!" [Dedicated with appreciation to the Blue Öyster Cult.] David Anthony Kraft (author), Rick Buckler, Mike Masser, Arvell Jones, Klaus Janson (artists), Howard Bender (letterer), Don Warfield (colorist), Beth Bleckley (computer type), Archie Goodwin (editor).
Interestingly, as noted above, credits for Deathlok's "computer type" thoughts were separate from the letterer credits.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

But Not Forgotten

Though launched as an ongoing title, the latest Defenders series ended at #12, with the time-bending storyline rewriting itself so the events in the series never took place.

The result gave a whole new meaning to the term non-team, with this grouping of Defenders never truly having formed.

Disappointing as that may be, the cancellation of the Defenders is not the end of the world … and it's not the end of this blog. There is still a lot left to cover.

Defenders. Vol. 4. No. 12. January 2013. Matt Fraction (writer), Mirco Pierfederici (penciler), Veronica Gandini (colorist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover artists), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Candy Southern: The Hidden Years

Spanning 22 issues, X-Men: The Hidden Years filled a gap in mutant history by presenting new stories set during the period of X-Men #67-93, when the original series ran only reprints.

One of the standout characters of the "hidden years" was Candy Southern, longtime girlfriend to Warren Worthington III.

When Warren went missing, Candy surprised the X-Men by revealing that she knew her boyfriend was the hero Angel and that Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngster's was their secret headquarters. Why her knowledge of these facts came as a shock to anyone was in itself surprising. Unless Warren kept his shirt on throughout their relationship, it was only a matter of time before Candy would learn about his wings and crimefighting career.

Candy requested to accompany the X-Men in their search for Angel. The merry mutants reluctantly agreed so long as she borrowed a spare costume from Marvel Girl to protect her true identity. Though lacking super-powers, Candy maintained an impressive (or naïve) level of confidence during the adventure—retroactively setting the stage for her role as leader of the New Defenders.

The above page comes from X-Men: The Hidden Years #13, written and pencilled by John Byrne.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Eleventh Hour

Iron Fist: We either shut the engines down, or the universe will break. Doc. The impossible is everywhere now…
Dr. Strange: … Déjà vu.

Foretold in Point One, those pivotal words of dialogue appeared on the closing page of Defenders #11. But the situation was far from predictable. Unlike the original vision witnessed by Dr. Strange, the version of Prince Namor who rendezvoused with the non-team this issue wore a beard. Another deviation was the presence of Black Cat, who began tagging along with the heroes after her appearance in Defenders #7.

Minor details aside, the big reveal of Defenders #11 came early that issue. In a surreal state, Silver Surfer learned that an Omega Council hid the Concordance Engines on Earth to keep the machines from the destructive Death Celestials, which now threatened to destroy the planet.

Though undetected for years, the reality-bending Concordance Engines accounted for the large number of highly improbably events on Earth, including the origins of many super-beings.

Defenders. Vol. 4. No. 11. December 2012. Matt Fraction (writer), Mirco Pierfederici (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover artists).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cover Versions: Hulk vs. Namor

Hulk and Sub-Mariner were at odds with each other since their first team-up in Avengers #3. As these covers show, the temperamental twosome remained sparring partners during the original run of the Defenders.

The second issue of Defenders Volume 2 showed Hulk and Sub-Mariner at odds yet again. Another cover version for that same issue spotlighted Valkyrie instead.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Micro-Management

Before he was Ant-Man, Scott Lang already had one foot in the door to becoming a superhero. In his debut appearance from Avengers #181, Scott Lang was the engineer hired to install a new security system at Avengers Mansion.

Returning from the movies, Wonder Man and Beast were the first to test out these new defenses, as they accidentally triggered a set of mechanical arms designed to stop intruders from entering the headquarters.

But mechanical arms weren't the only security measures introduced that issue. With a ballooning number of heroes coming and going from the mansion, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, the federal government decided to limit the Avengers to seven active members.

Government liaison Peter Gyrich announced the new lineup as Iron Man (chairman), Vision, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Wasp, and Falcon (recruited specifically to add an African-American to the group).

Of the heroes who didn't stay on, Hawkeye was the most outspoken against the government intervention. In a thought balloon, Wonder Man noted that Moondragon left without even saying good-bye.

When Falcon decided to step down in Avengers #194, Wonder Man filled the open slot (with no mention of maintaining racial quotas).

The team membership remained fairly consistent until Moondragon's abrupt return in Avengers #211.

Avengers. Vol. 1. No. 181. March 1978. "On the Matter of Heroes!" David Micheline (writer), John Byrne & Gene Day (artists), F. Mouly (colors), Elaine H. (letters), Roger Stern (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Last But Not Least ... Ant-Man

Harking back to comics published a generation ago, the cover of Defenders #10 featured mugshots in the upper-left corner (including the head of a not-so-friendly ant).

This issue, of course, welcomed Ant-Man into the ranks of the Defenders (the last of the characters foreshadowed from Point One to appear in the new series).

The dimension-hopping non-team encountered Ant-Man (specifically Scott Lang) when they returned to present-day Earth, only to discover that civilization as far as they could see lay in ruins. Only by inconspicuously remaining the size of an insect had the hero managed to avoid execution at the hands of the ominous Dark Celestial.

Defenders. Vol. 4. No. 10. November 2012. Matt Fraction (writer), Jamie McKelvie w/Mike Norton (artists), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), VC's Sabino & Cowles (letterers), Joe Quinones (cover artist).

Monday, September 3, 2012

Footnote

Perhaps the most footnoted item in the history of comics has been the full title of the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. Traditionally, when a character would pronounce SHIELD as a word of dialogue, the footnote would spell out that the six letters stood for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division.

Defenders #9 turned the convention on its ear. Here, Dr. Strange stated the full name of the organization in a conversation with Nick Fury, and editor Mark Paniccia placed the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. in a footnote.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Marvel Super Heroes - 1982

The Contest of Champions limited series of 1982 began by showing what numerous heroes active on Earth were were doing at the moment they unexpectedly transported away for the cosmic challenge.

Although Beast was making recurring appearances in the Defenders by this point, the opening of Contest of Champions #1 found him visiting his old teammates from the Avengers. Beast remarked that the Defenders didn't have anything like the training facilities at Avengers Mansion.

Published the same months as Defenders #108-110, the three-issue contest concluded with an exhaustive listing of Marvel super heroes, including subsections for the inactive and deceased. Given the large number of heroes who had guest starred with the Defenders over the years, or who joined the non-team for only a few issues, the appendix took a staid approach when listing group affiliations.

Here are the entries for Beast (who was not listed as a Defender) and those characters whose entries did reference the Defenders.

BEAST
(Henry McCoy, biochemist) American mutant with furry-skin and incredible agility and strength. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. Former member of the X-Men and Avengers. First appearance: X-MEN #1. First appearance mutated to current state: AMAZING ADVENTURES #11.

DEVIL-SLAYER
(Eric Simon Payne, ex-marine, ex-hitman) Telepath who uses a transdimensional shadow cloak to teleport and to procure weapons from its pocket-dimensions. Current member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #33.

DOCTOR STRANGE
(Stephen Strange, ex-surgeon) The sorcerer supreme of Earth, commanding the greatest share of Earth's magical energies. Also uses a cloak of levitation and the amulet of Agomotto permitting him to see in persons souls. Current member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: STRANGE TALES #110.

GARGOYLE
(Isaac Christians, ex-mayor) American turned into a monster by a demon. Flies by means of wings and is able to sap or restore persons' life forces. Current member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: DEFENDERS #94.

HELLCAT
(Patsy Walker) American with fantastic acrobatic abilities, agility, and battle prowess. Former member of the Avengers, current member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: AVENGERS #144.

HULK
(Robert Bruce Banner, physicist) Gamma-radiated American possessing super-strength which increases in geometric proportion to anger. Former member of the Avengers, occasional member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New Mexico. First appearance: HULK#1.

NIGHTHAWK
(Kyle Richmond, industrialist) American who took a serum to give him double human strength at night. Uses a jet-pack and wings. Occasional member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: AVENGERS #70.

POWER MAN
(Luke Cage) American possessing great strength and nearly-invulnerable skin. Partner of Iron Fist in Heroes for Hire. Former member of the Fantastic Four and Defenders. First appearance: HERO FOR HIRE #1.

SON OF SATAN
(Daimon Hellstrom, occult expert) American whose father is an arch-demon. Possesses supernatural strength and wields a trident and rides a chariot driven by fiery horses. Occasional member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #12.

SUB-MARINER
(Prince Namor, ruler of Atlantis) Hybrid Atlantean-human possessing super-strength, the ability to breathe underwater, super-speed, and the ability to fly through the air for short distances by means of his ankle-wings. Occasional member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: Atlantis. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #4.

VALKYRIE
(No alias currently used) Asgardian goddess possessing great strength. Wields a sword and rides a winged horse, Aragon. Formerly a member of the Valkyrior, the Choosers of the Slain. Current member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance (Enchantress possessing her form): AVENGERS #83. First appearance (in Barbara Norriss's mortal body): DEFENDERS #4. First appearance (in own body): DEFENDERS #109.

INACTIVE

PRESENCE
(Sergi — scientist) Russian mutant who gained vast cosmic powers through exposure to radiation. First appearance: DEFENDERS #52. Reason for retirement: left Earth to seek destiny.

RED GUARDIAN
(Dr. Tania Belinski, neurosurgeon) Russian possessing great agility and martial skills. Used discuses as weapons. First appearance: DEFENDERS #35. Reason for retirement: left Earth to seek destiny with the Presence.

The Presence and Red Guardian went into space in Defenders #55.
The top images come from Contest of Champions #1.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

No Laughing Matter

Compared with other heroes, the Defenders acquired a particularly unusual rogues' gallery. So when Jennifer Walters landed her own comedic series as The Sensational She-Hulk, she inherited some of the non-team's earliest enemies.

With Chondu the Mystic still upset with the new body he received in Defenders #35, the other members of the Headmen surprised their teammate yet again—this time by attaching his head to a cloned body of She-Hulk from the neck down (Sensational She-Hulk #1-3).

She-Hulk also faced Xemnu the Titan, who resurfaced with a new set of schemes to repopulate his home planet, including an experiment to transmogrify the green heroine into his bride (#11).

Be it comedy or tragedy, in a misbegotten effort to subsume the Defenders brand into the Fifty States Initiative, Iron Man recruited Nighthawk, Colossus, She-Hulk, and Blazing Skull into his own federally-sanctioned vision of the team, headquartered out of New Jersey (Last Defenders #1).

Disappointed by his handpicked heroes after only one mission, Iron Man disassembled this version of the Defenders part-way into the six-issue limited series.

On a deeper level, Iron Man had a hard time coming to terms with the original concept of the Defenders. The non-team had long succeeded in making a home for Jennifer Walter's cousin Bruce Banner in a way the Avengers never could (Incredible Hulk #279).

Yet whatever misgivings Iron Man may have had, he the not have the "last" word on the fate of the Defenders.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sub-Mariner into 1967

Living up to the hype, Defenders #9 did indeed take the non-team "Sideways into 1967!" The trip landed the Defenders on a parallel Earth a handful of decades in the past, bringing a version of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury from the 1960s into the larger storyline around the reality-bending Concordance Engine.

Though pictured on the cover, Sub-Mariner did not partake in the issue.

With that segue, here's a look at four striking covers from comic books published in 1967 that did spotlight the Prince of Atlantis!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Fantastic News from 1967

My string of posts about 1967 wouldn't be complete without mentioning Fantastic Four King-Size Special #5 (a.k.a. Annual #5).

Promising to announce the biggest surprise of the year, the main story began with Susan Richards fainting—raising concern from her friends and family. The suspense ended later that issue with news that Sue was going to have a baby. Born in King-Size Special #6 (Nov. 1968), the son of the Invisible Girl and Mr. Fantastic came to signify how much time had passed in the lives of Marvel characters from that point forward.

In less surprising news, King-Size Special #5 also included a backup story starring the Silver Surfer.

Fantastic Four King-Size Special #5. Nov. 1967. "Divide and Conquer!" Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby. Inked by Joltin' Joe Sinnot. Lettered by Swingin' Sammy Rosen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tales from 1967

In honor of the cliffhanger from Defenders #8 that referenced 1967, here's a look back at more memorable events from comic books published that year.

Out for revenge against Hank Pym and Wasp, the fiendish Whirlwind trapped the size-changing duo in an ant hill. After they escaped from that death trap in Avengers #46 (Nov. 1967), Pym installed cybernetic antennae into his latest costume as Goliath—regaining the insect-control powers he originally used as Ant-Man.

Nick Fury began to show his age in Strange Tales #154 (March 1967). Whereas prior issues depicted the S.H.I.E.L.D agent with a full head of brown hair, Nick Fury now sported "snow" around the temples. The distinguishing trait signaled the passage of time since Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, a series published at the same time but set during World War II.

By the Seven Rings of Raggadorr! In another story from Strange Tales #154 (March 1967), the master of the mystic arts fought off hostile creatures in the Dark Dimension on his quest to the castle of Umar. There, Dr. Strange encountered the evil sorceress who had captured and threatened to kill Clea.

To protect his secret identity in Daredevil #25 (Feb. 1967), attorney Matt Murdock began the ongoing ruse that he had a twin brother named Mike. That issue also marked the first appearance of Leap-Frog, a villain whose son would later become the struggling hero known as Frog-Man.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sideways into 1967

The newly published Defenders #8 ended with a teaser … NEXT: SIDEWAYS INTO 1967! Given the sliding nature of time in most comic books, stories from 1967 now would have occurred reasonably close to the present. Just the same, here are some memorable events from comics published that year.

Ever-hounded by the people of Earth, an angry Hulk demanded that the Silver Surfer take him to a far-away planet in Tales to Astonish #93 (July 1967). While sympathetic to the Hulk's predicament, the former herald of Galactus was himself trapped on Earth and could not oblige. When all attempts to reason with the green goliath failed, the Silver Surfer flew off in frustration.

Avengers #43 (Aug. 1967) introduced the original Red Guardian (a.k.a. Alexi Shostakov, the estranged husband of the Black Widow). Though he died the following issue, the Soviet counterpart to Captain America would later inspire Dr. Tania Belinsky to become the second Red Guardian.

Iceman, the youngest of the original X-Men, celebrated his 18th birthday in X-Men #32 (May 1967), the first in a two-issue battle against Juggernaut. Acknowledging that the the original X-Men were adults, the merry mutants received individualized costumes in X-Men #39 (Dec. 1967).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Against the Swarm

A string of fatal insect attacks against leading entomologists prompted the national Department of Covert Extranormal Investigation and Disinformation to enlist the help of Dr. Druid (Secret Defenders #18-19).

At Dr. Druid's recommendation, Henry Pym received orders from the highest levels of government to investigate conspicuous insect infestations at the Rand-Meachum Technology Facility in Houston.

Though back to his Giant-Man powers at the time, Dr. Pym brought along a cybernetic helmet from his days as Ant-Man. Accompanied by Iron Fist—who was already on site as Daniel Rand, chairman and CEO of Rand-Meachum Inc.—Pym concluded that a singular consciousness was controlling the army of insects that stormed the facility.

Meanwhile, Dr. Druid, Shadowoman, and Cadaver of the Secret Defenders worked behind the scenes to battle Swarm, the collective intelligence responsible for the attacks.

During the encounter, Dr. Druid sensed that Iceman and Angel had previously faced Swarm (Champions #14-15). For backup, Dr. Druid cast an illusion in the minds of Iceman and Archangel that Professor Xavier wanted them to report to the facility. The two mutants arrived at the tail end of this latest conflict.

Secret Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 18. August 1994. "A Tiny Little War." Tom Brevroot & Mike Kanterovich (writers), Bill Wylie (penciler), Hudson + Dezuniga (inkers), John Costanza (letterer), Jim Hoston (colorist), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief).
Secret Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 19. September 1994. "Survival of the Fittest." Tom Brevroot & Mike Kanterovich (writers), Bill Wylie (breakdowns), Tony Dezuniga (finishes), John Costanza (letterer), John Kausz (colorist), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (bee-hind it all).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Captain Nemo

An unfolding storyline in the pages of the Defenders revealed that more than 100 years ago Prince Namor's mother had banded together with an unusual array of pulp-era adventurers, including the likes of Captain Nemo. A key piece of evidence emerged in Defenders #5, when the modern heroes discovered the remains of the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne.

This would mean that Captain Nemo was not only a character from 19th century literature but also a historical figure within the world of Marvel characters—and a topic of discussion among the latest version of the non-team (Defenders #5).

Red She-Hulk: Do you think the dead guy there is really Captain Nemo? From the books and such?

As his teammate spoke, Namor looked closely at a photograph of the fabled captain.

Namor: What books?
Red She-Hulk: Jules Verne?
Namor: Is he an Atlantean author?
Red She-Hulk: No, he--
Namor: Haven't read it.

The half-Atlantean observed familial resemblance between himself and the legendary captain, so Red She-Hulk broached the subject.

Red She-Hulk: Could he be your father?
Namor: … It doesn't matter. I know who I am.
Defenders. No. 5. June 2012. "Namor: The 99 Daughters of Pontus." Matt Fraction (writer), Mitch Breitweiser (artist), Mitch & Bettie Bretweiser (color artists), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer).
An illustrated adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ran in Marvel Classics Comics #4 (Jan. 1976). The Mysterious Island appeared in #11 (July 1976).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Defenders Dialogue: The Old Order Changeth

The letters page of Defenders #15 addressed whether two founding members of the Defenders had an ongoing place in the non-team.
Dear Marvel,

Just as you phased the original Avengers out of their comic so many, many years ago, I believe you're planning to do the same, eventually, with the Defenders. Apart from the implausibility of the string of coincidences involved in having a group-that-isn't-a-group meeting time after time, the Hulk and Sub-Mariner simply are not teamwork characters. Namor is too arrogant and haughty to take orders or even advice from anybody, and the Hulk is too unpredictable and (let's face it) stupid to be of any real value to a group. His only contribution is his enormous strength, which could be provided by the other members of the group in combination. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner Hulk and Namor say "bye-bye" to the Defenders, the better.

Mike Cruden
England


Here was the editorial reply:
Well, Mike, as you know, Namor has indeed taken a leave of absence from the group to concentrate on his not inconsiderable troubles in Atlantis. And, too, we'll probably be doing an occasional issue now and then without the Hulk. And furthermore, you'll be seeing a number of heroes sort of filling in for Sub-Mariner while he's away. (Which is even weirder, since, as you point out, this is a group that isn't a group … so how can somebody fill in when somebody's not missing from something that supposedly doesn't even exist? HALP!!!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Powerless

Not long after Power Man went into business with Iron Fist, an old enemy from Power Man's days with the Defenders came looking for revenge. But as a side effect of an adventure the previous issue, Luke Cage had no super powers when ambushed by Arthur Nagan, a.k.a. Gorilla-Man of the Headmen (Power Man and Iron Fist #68).

Unquestionably outmatched, Luke Cage did his best to flee … until an attack from Gorilla-Man flung the hero-for-hire into an electrified fence and unexpectedly reinstated his powers.

Just as Iron Fist arrived at the scene, Power Man delivered the closing blow to Gorilla Man by slamming the villain into the ground head-first.

Power Man and Iron Fist. Vol. 1. No. 68. April 1981. "Where Enemies Gather!" Mary Jo Duffy (writer). Bob Layton (co-plottter). Kerry Gammill (penciler). Ricardo Villamonte (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Ben Sean (colorist), Denny O'Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (gipper).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Secret Defenders vs. Original Defenders

A time-warp in Secret Defenders #23 found five members of the ever-changing team defending themselves against past versions of Hulk, Prince Namor, and Silver Surfer—transported from a time soon after the original Defenders formed. A misconstrued battle transpired between the two teams in #24.

With impressive strength, Sub-Mariner and Hulk fended off Cadaver, Dagger, Deathlok, and Drax of the Secret Defenders.

But the most telling showdown came between Silver Surfer and Shadowoman/Sepulcre, who imprisoned the cosmic champion in magic tendrils. When he broke free, the former herald of Galactus sensed that, in this era of the Secret Defenders, a cosmic barrier no longer trapped him on Earth. Feeling detached from the conflict, the Silver Surfer flew off into space.

Silver Surfer: At long last … the freedom which has ever been my heart's desire is attained! But at what price? The Earth sprawls out before me … as lush and green as any sphere I have ever beheld! Though my place of exit, it has also proven a land filled with awe and wonder aplenty! Though its inhabitants are often primitive and barbaric … they nurture within them a spare of greatness which may one day buoy them to heights! How thoughtless, how … human … of me, to place my own personal needs about those of the common good …

With a sense of moral obligation, the Surfer returned to Earth to rejoin the battle—just in time for the Defenders of two eras to discover a common threat at hand.

Tom Brevoort & Mike Kanterovich wrote Secret Defenders #23-24. Bill Wylie pencilled those issues.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Like the Original X-Men?

When I first saw this ad more than 30 years ago, I knew little about the new X-Men who featured in the series at the time and had never read about the original team pictured on the left.

Even in their original uniforms, though, I could identify Angel and Cyclops because of the wings and visor. Yet I had no idea that Marvel Girl of the original team had any connection to Phoenix of the new X-Men.

Familiar only with Beast from the Avengers, I did not recognize the early version of the character rendered in the ad without the blue fur.

But the most puzzling character to me at the time was the "snowman" (a callback to X-Men #1, when Iceman dressed up like a snowman in a gag sequence).

A few years later, with more knowledge of comic book history under my belt—and after Angel, Beast, and Iceman regrouped—I thought Marvel could have reworked this ad to say:

Like the Original X-Men? Then You'll Love the New Defenders!

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