Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

ABC's of Law

The Defenders legal drama of the 1960s inspired a short-lived comic book series by Dell Publishing based on the CBS television show. The inside front cover of #1 (September-November 1962) included these four legal definitions.

Alimony—Allowance for support, ordered by a court, which a husband pays to his wife if she is not living with him. Alimony ceases with the death of the husband.

Barratry—A wilful and unlawful act committed by the master of mariners of a ship, as a result of which the owners of the vessel sustain loss or injury.

Corpus-Delciti—Literally, "the body of the crime". While it is commonly thought to refer to a corpse, the term actually means the existence of the essential fact which proves the commission of a crime … such as finding stolen goods on the person of an alleged thief.

Deforcement—The act of withholding property to which another person holds the rights, but of which he cannot gain possession.

The above image appeared with the definition of Barratry in Defenders #1.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Master of the Martial Arts

A crossover event that spanned Defenders #8-11 and Avengers #115-118 caused the two teams to clash in a series of skirmishes.

One of the biggest surprises in the multi-part story came when Black Panther and Mantis teamed up against Dr. Strange.

While facing the two Avengers, Dr. Strange revealed that his studies in the Himalayas included not only the mystic arts but also the martial arts (Defenders #9).

Although Dr. Strange held his own in physical combat remarkably well, he eventually defeated Black Panther and Mantis with these magic words.

In the exalted name of the eternal Vshanti--
And other gods beyond and below--
Let the strength and cunning of these, my enemies--
--from their mortal bodies flow!

The above image of Mantis and Black Panther comes from Defenders #9 (Vol. 1).

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Trick Arrows

Soon after joining the non-team in Defenders #7, Hawkeye upgraded his assortment of trick arrows. The master archer got to show off his new arsenal in #9, during crossover event that pitted the Defenders against the Avengers.

At the beginning of one clash, Hawkeye used an arrow with a boomerang effect to snatch from Iron Man's hand a fragment of the mystical Evil Eye that the two groups were competing to obtain.

Hawkeye then shot an explosive arrow that Iron Man identified as a "Blast Arrow" (although Hawkeye himself didn't use this term).

The archer's next two arrows, however, took Iron Man by surprise. One arrow released a burning acid that could melt through his armor. The other arrow was magnetic, pulling Iron Man's arm sideways as it flew by and thereby ruining his aim.

Hawkeye stayed with the Defenders through #11; it's indeterminate whether any of the other arrows he used as a member of the non-team had specialized effects.

The Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 9. October 1973. "Divide … and Conquer." Steve Englehart (author), Sal Buscema (artist), Frank McLaughlin (inker), Artie Simek (letterer), P. Goldberg (colorist), Roy Thomas (editor).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Secret of Seraph

Introduced as a formidable operative of the Secret Empire, Seraph led a mission to kidnap the Vision in Defenders #123. Yet in a surprising turn of events, Seraph then helped the Defenders defeat the Secret Empire in #129-130. Here, Seraph revealed herself to be a Soviet agent who had infiltrated the Secret Empire to thwart the criminal organization's plot to manipulate the United States and Soviet Union into starting the next world war.

While undercover, however, Seraph had used her psionic powers to give Cloud false memories that the Secret Empire had killed her parents, turning Cloud's loyalty away from the Secret Empire and to the side of the Defenders. Cloud's complicated true past remained unknown until #149-150.

This panel of Seraph comes from New Defenders #130.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Best Defense

I am happy to see that plans are underway for the formative members of the Defenders to regroup later this year. Promotional images feature Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, and Dr. Strange.

The most recent comic book version of the Defenders ended at #10 with Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage re-establishing Heroes for Hire. This should help readers differentiate the two teams.

I recognize of course that viewers of the recent Netflix series will continue to identify the Heroes for Hire and Daredevil as the Defenders even as the comic books veer another direction.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Asgardian Alignments

A classic Dungeons & Dragons source book titled Deities & Demigods (later Legends & Lore) placed mythological gods and heroes from numerous cultures within the popular game system.

Below are the D&D alignments Deities & Demigods listed for several Norse gods who also had an impact on the Defenders.

Chaotic Good: Thor (thunder god).

Neutral Good: Odin "All Father" (supreme ruler of the gods); this alignment aptly describes the hero Thor during his time as a founding and recurring member of the Avengers.

Chaotic Evil: Loki (god of mischief, strife and fire); he teamed up with Dormammu in the a cross-over event that spanned Avengers #115-118 and Defenders #8-11.

Neutral Evil: Hel (goddess of death); her name is spelled Hela in Defenders #66-68 and other Marvel publications.

Chaotic Neutral: Valkyries "Choosers of the Slain"; the temperament of the hero Valkyrie steadies after #66-68, ending the the inner turmoil between her true self and the spirit of Barbara Norriss.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Bearing a Resemblance

While looking through back issues in my collection, I noticed that the covers of Avengers #169 (March 1977) and Uncanny X-Men #139 (November 1980) bear a resemblance to one another. Each cover shows members of the respective teams facing three threats—with a polar bear in the upper right of both covers. In all transparency, the polar bear on the X-Men cover is actually the shapeshifting hero Snowbird of Alpha Flight.

In addition to defeating an actual polar bear in the Arctic Circle, Black Panther impresses his fellow Avengers by providing the final answer on a challenging crossword puzzle. A twelve-letter word that means "producing sweat"? Sudoriferous!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Most Startling Non-Group in Comics History!

This ad for The Defenders appeared at the bottom of the letters page of Daredevil #150 (January 1978).

Published the same month as Defenders #55, the ad pictured Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hulk, and Hellcat, who would remain core members of the team for the next few years.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Existentialism

The latest comic book series of the Defenders—chronicling Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist's crusade against organized crime—concluded with Defenders #10.

Making a cameo appearance that issue, Hellcat noted that she remembered every detail of Reed Richards and Sue Storm's wedding yet at times had forgotten events that actually had happened to her. That remark was telling. In a serialized medium with decades of history—and, by the nature of the work, revamped continuity—only so many comic book stories have a lasting impact on the characters or the storytelling universe. Over the years, not every published issue remains key to the ongoing narrative.

On a related note, it's getting hard to keep track of every Defenders relaunch attempted over the last ten years, when I began writing this blog; I don't begin to predict what versions of the team might appear in the future. In the meantime, this blog provides me with space to continue reflecting on their past.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote Defenders #10 (April 2018).

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Treasured

When I recently purchased Marvel Treasury Edition #16, I wondered if the collection included Defenders #25 because of the similarity between the two covers—but that appears to be a coincidence.

Rather, the treasury reprinted Marvel Feature #1, Defenders #4, and Defenders #13-14 in an oversized format.

Marvel Treasury Edition #16 (1978) also contained a pin-up of Nighthawk's ranch and two-page image from Defenders #50, picturing characters who did not appear in the four collected issues.

The Defenders previously guest-starred with Howard the Duck in Marvel Treasury Edition #12.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Daredevil Meets Power Man & Iron Fist

The cover may have said Daredevil … Meets Power Man & Iron Fist, but Daredevil #178 (January 1982) wasn't the first time they made each other's acquaintance.

Power Man met Daredevil in Defenders #24 (June 1975).

All three heroes worked together in Marvel Team-Up Annual #4 (1981).

Daredevil #178 was, however, the first of a two-part crossover that continued in Power Man & Iron Fist #77 (January 1982).

Interestingly, when Iron Fist and Daredevil later faced one another in Contest of Champions #2 (July 1982), Iron Fist introduced himself as though they had never met—or as if Iron Fist knew that Daredevil's radar sense enabled the blind hero to detect a silhouette but not see the details of someone's costume.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Return of Over-Mind

Upon the destruction of their homeworld (a.k.a. Earth-S), the surviving members of the Squadron Supreme escaped to the dimension where most of Marvel's superhero comics take place.

The Squadron's arrival had an unusual effect on Over-Mind, who had once enslaved the team (Defenders #113).

Although six psychics collectively known as the Chorus had subdued Over-Mind, he returned to his original personality of the warlord Grom and soon regained mental control of the Squadron Supreme (Quasar #13-14).

The mysterious Stranger, a former enemy of Over-Mind, intervened to stop the powerful foe yet again. Numerous members of the Watchers witnessed the battle, as did the admittedly outclassed hello called Quasar (#15-16).

Mark Gruenwald wrote Quasar #13-16 (August-November 1990). Mike Manley penciled those issues.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Continued in Quasar

Quasar may have been a Defender for only a day (back when he was still called Marvel Man), but several story lines from the original run of the Defenders continued in Quasar's solo series, which took the hero into the far reaches of the cosmos.

Quasar #19, for example, unexpectedly brought back Gargoyle—one of several heroes who appeared to die in New Defenders #152 but later returned.

Quasar #19-20 also featured Red Guardian and Presence, who left Earth in Defenders #56 and were last seen in The Incredible Hulk #258-59.

Mark Gruenwald wrote Quasar #19-20 (February-March 1991). Greg Capullo penciled both issues.

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