Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


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!

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