Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

True Neutral: Libra

The old-school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide described True Neutral not as an alignment of detachment (characteristic of Uatu the Watcher) but rather as an alignment that actively enforced balance between opposing sides. Libra from the android version of the Zodiac embodied this take on True Neutral.

Morally complex, Libra closely observed the well-matched battle between the villainous Zodiac and the heroic non-team to evaluate whether his intervention was necessary (Defenders #50).

Later, when a television documentary prompted numerous heroes to temporarily join the Defenders, Libra sensed an imbalance between the scales of law-and-order and chaos. To restore the equilibrium, Libra joined teammate Sagittarius in recruiting a throng of super-villains to to commit crimes while calling themselves Defenders (#64).

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Neutral Evil: Humbert Carpenter

In his one-shot appearance in New Defenders #131, underground scientist Humbert Carpenter articulated a set of self-centered objectives that fit under the umbrella of Neutral Evil from Dungeons & Dragons.

Unable to acquire grant support for his experiments, Humbert persevered on his own until achieving the scientific breakthrough that gave his nephew superhuman powers.

To show the world the experiment was a success, Humbert sent his impressionable nephew (codenamed Walrus) to demonstrate his strength by attacking several heroes. All the while, Humbert cautioned his nephew against excessive property damage, but only because mass destruction wouldn't garnish the same level of notoriety as defeating a hero.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
The above panel shows nephew Hubert (a.k.a. the Walrus) and uncle Humbert. The pair were an homage to the Lewis Carroll poem The Walrus and the Carpenter.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lawful Evil: The Secret Empire

The Secret Empire was a recurring enemy of the Defenders as well as Captain America. With its rigid chain of command, jingoistic aims, and a pattern of abducting and manipulating super-humans, the subversive organization easily met the criteria for Lawful Evil under the early alignment classifications from Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
In this panel from Defenders #106, Daredevil, the Son of Satan, and Dr. Strange are disguised as Secret Empire guards while infiltrating the organization's headquarters.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Neutral Good: The Champions

At face value, mutants Angel and Iceman had little in common with Hercules, Black Widow, or Ghost Rider—outside of the fact that they were all living in Los Angeles at the same time.

Whatever differences they might have had, however, the group largely put them aside while working together as the Champions.

Motivated by a general belief that the world still needs heroes, the short-lived super-team captured the spirit of Neutral Good under the classic alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
The silhouetted image above comes from the closing page of Champions #4.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chaotic Neutral: Rufus T. Hackstabber

A recurring character in the pages of Master of Kung Fu, taxi driver Rufus T. Hackstabber made an unexpected appearance in New Defenders #148. With his propensity for reckless driving, sexual innuendo, and comedic banter, the Groucho Marx lookalike could be a minor source of tension for the heroes he met.

Of the classic nine alignments from Dungeons & Dragons, Rufus T. Hackstabber demonstrated the waggish side of Chaotic Neutral, much like Groucho's on-screen persona.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  

Hackstabber was undoubtedly named after Groucho's character Rufus T. Firefly from the 1933 Marx Brothers film Duck Soup.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lawful Neutral: Grandmaster

This series of posts about the old-school alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons wouldn't be complete without the Grandmaster.

To settle disputes with other beings, the Grandmaster customarily challenges his opponents to strategic games, with rules agreed upon by both parties. These games often require heroes and villains to act as pawns for each side, pitting groups with opposing views against one another.

Given his well-structured approach, and his overall detachment regarding the concepts of good and evil, I reason that the Grandmaster is best classified as Lawful Neutral.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
The accompanying image comes from Squadron Supreme #9. Here, the Squadron represents the Grandmaster in a challenge while the Institute of Evil represents the Scarlet Centurion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chaotic Evil: The Devil's Daughter

While Daimon Hellstrom turned against his demonic father by fighting on the side of good, his sister, Satana, played the role of succubus, seductively murdering men and stealing their souls.

She may have been born to be bad, but Satana also had free will. She repelled the thought of blind obedience and assured others she was acting on her own accord. Given her capricious brand of malevolence, I consider her Chaotic Evil under the classic alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons.

Satana: … But you'll find Satana yields to no man. Not our father … and not you!

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Marvel Spotlight. Vol. 1. No. 24. October 1975. "Walk the Darkling Road!" Chris Claremont (author), Sal Buscema (artist), Bob McCleod (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Diane Buscema (colorist), Len Wein (editor).

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lawful Good: Beast

Don't let his boisterous demeanor fool you. Of the nine alignments popularized in Dungeons & Dragons, the bouncing blue Beast was Lawful Good by the time he joined the Defenders.

Following an impressive run as a member of the Avengers, Beast began to adventure regularly with the non-team beginning in Defenders #104. But instead of accepting the Defenders as an informal group of heroes who happened to work together, Beast was responsible for molding them into the New Defenders, with an official leader, government clearance, and advanced security system.

In short, the longer Beast was with the New Defenders, the more they looked like the Avengers.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Beast's time with the Avengers spanned #137-#211.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Chaotic Good: Non-Team

To keep in step with an online meme, this is the first in a series of posts looking at the Defenders through the lens of the nine alignments popularized in early editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

The first word of an alignment tells if a character favors Lawful (social order) or Chaotic (individualism). The second word describes a character as Good or Evil. The option of Neutral falls between each pair, with True Neutral in the middle.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  

In a conversation from Defenders #6 (Vol. 2), Sub-Mariner asked Nighthawk why he remained so loyal to the group. Nighthawk explained that being part of the Defenders allowed him to work on the side of good without all the rules and regulations of a team like the Avengers.

Heroes with a variety of alignments may have joined the Defenders over the years, but this loosely structured non-team approach that so encapsulated the Defenders was inherently Chaotic Good.

Defenders. Vol. 2. No. 6. "Rumble in the Sky." August 2001. Kurt "Ugly-Man" (dumb writers) Erik "Funny-Head" Larsen (puny artists) Al "Big-Ears" Gordon, Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Gregory Wright & Tom Smith's Color Arts (colors), Marc Sumerak (hates Hulk), Tom Brevort (hounds Hulk), Joe Quesada (won't leave Hulk alone), Bill Jemas (leave Hulk alone—or Hulk will smash!)

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