The Defenders Fansite

Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

More Marvel Super Heroes - 1982

Heralded as the first limited series, Contest of Champions was also groundbreaking for its appendix of Marvel Super Heroes - 1982. Biographical entries appeared for heroes who had been active up to that point (with sections on inactive and deceased heroes). While recognizing that this material was decidedly concise, in hindsight I am surprised that the listings for Clea and Silver Surfer did not note their membership in the Defenders.

In contrast, however, I am not surprised by the other heroes who had appeared in issues of the Defenders yet weren't described as members. By and large, these characters did not regard themselves Defenders—even within the parameters of a non-team. For example, Thing and Mister Fantastic remained members of the Fantastic Four while assisting the Defenders. Even Hawkeye, who briefly considered himself one of the Defenders, did so largely to spite the Avengers.

With the exception of the Defenders for a Day (who will get their own post), here the entries for those heroes who appeared in the original series through 1982 and weren't referenced as Defenders in Contest of Champions.

(Dane Whitman, physicist) American descendant of Arthurian-age champion who wields the ebony blade of his ancestor, and rides a winged horse. Last seen in Twelfth Century Britain, but is known to be back in the present. Current whereabouts: Britain. Former member of the Avengers. First appearance: AVENGERS #48.

(T'Challa, tribal leader of Wakanda) Jungle-born African possessing great natural strength, agility, and heightened senses. Former member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: Africa. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #52.

(Steve Rogers, artist) Recipient of the Super-Soldier formula endowing him with great strength, agility, and stamina. Carries a shield. Member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: AVENGERS #4.

(No other name known) Sorceress from an alien dimension with minor mystic abilities. Current whereabouts: her home dimension. First appearance; STRANGE TALES #126.

(Matt Murdock, lawyer) Blind American with heightened senses and incredible agility and fighting prowess. Uses billy club as a weapon. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: DAREDEVIL #1.

(Clint Barton, security chief) American who has mastered the art of archery and uses various trick arrows. Occasional member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #57.

(Reed Richards, scientist/adventurer) American possessing cosmic ray-derived power of super-malleability. Able to stretch any part of his body to great lengths and mold his pliant flesh into numerous shapes. One of the great intellects of the world, he is the leader of the Fantastic Four. Husband of the Invisible Girl. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

(Healther Douglas) American-born priestess of Titan, trained in the martial arts, telepathy, and psychokinesis. Daughter of Drax the Destroyer. Occasional member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: vicinity of the Earth. First appearance (as Madame MacEvil): IRON MAN #54. First appearance (as Moondragon): DAREDEVIL #105.

(Marc Spector, mercenary; alias Jake Lockley, cab driver; Steven Grant, millionaire) American possessing great natural strength and agility and mastery of martial arts. Uses crescent-darts, a truncheon, and glider-cape. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32.

(Charles Xavier, headmaster) American mutant with the psionic powers of telepathy and astral projection. Founder of the X-Men. Confined to a wheelchair. Current whereabouts: Salem Center, New York. First appearance: X-MEN #1.

(Norrin Radd) Humanoid alien from Zenn-La with cosmic powers to rearrange molecules and shoot energy-blasts. Rides an idestructable flying surfboard. Former herald of Galactus. Current whereabouts: space. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #48.

(Peter Parker, college student/freelance photographer) American possessing super-strength, super-reflexes, incredible agility, the ability to stick to virtually any surface, and a danger-detecting "spider-sense." Uses a chemical web-shooting device enabling him to swing from the rooftops entangle persons or things, and create simple objects such as shields and spheres. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #15.

(Benjamin Grimm, adventurer) American possessing super-strength and a rock-like epidermis making him impervious to virtually all harm. Member of the Fantastic Four. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

(Janet Van Dyne, heiress) American with the ability to shrink to insect-size and fly by means of surgically-implanted membrane-wings. Shoots a bio-electric "wasp's sting." Member of the Avengers. Ex-wife of Henry Pym (Yellowjacket), who concocted her powers. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #44.


(Johnny Blaze, motorcycle stunt rider) American who through sorcery became the host-body for a blazing skeletal demon who is abile to create objects out of mystic flame, project soul-scalding Hellfire, and is super-strong and nearly impervious to harm. First appearance MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5. Reason for retirement: Blaze is no longer able to control the demon and force him to use his powers for good.

(Carol Danvers, ex-security agent, freelance writer) American who possessed ability to fly, super-strength, heightened reflexes, and a precognitive Seventh Sense. Former member of the Avengers. First appearance: MS. MARVEL #1. Reason for retirement: loss of powers.

(Henry Pym, biochemist) American who invented serum enabling him to reduce to insect-size. Used bioelectric "stings." Former husband to Janet Van Dyne (Wasp). First appearance (as Dr. Pym): TALES TO ASTONISH #27. First appearance (as Ant-Man): TALES TO ASTONISH #35. First appearance (as Giant-Man): TALES TO ASTONISH #49. First appearance (as Goliath): AVENGERS #28. First appearance (as Yellowjacket): AVENGERS #59. Reason for retirement: began criminal career.


(Real name unknown) A humanoid "organic robot" from an unspecified planet trained to be a perfect warrior. Possessed super-strength, enabling him to leap long distances, etc. Had empathic link with another organic robot, James-Michael Starling. First appearance OMEGA #1. Died from a gunshot wound in OMEGA #10.

Contest of Champions featured a list of Super Heroes of Other Worlds, Other Times included Prester John (pictured here in Defenders #11), as well as members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Squadron Supreme.
Another section listed Quasi Heroes, including Alpha the Ultimate Mutant, Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, Nick Fury, and Rick Jones.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Clea, the Mystic Maiden!

Defenders #53 included a back-up story that introduced Nicodemus, an ambitious villain with advanced technology and a powerful incantation to steal the magical energy of others. His longterm goal was to overpower Dr. Strange and claim the title of Sorcerer-King!

For his first target, Nicodemus ambushed Clea. But when Clean found herself mystically drained, she turned the tables on Nicodemus by knocking him out with her fist. The five-page tale gave Clea a rare chance to shine.

As for what happened next, Dr. Strange would confiscate Nicodemus' ancient tome, dismantle his machinery, and wipe his mind of any memories of what he had done. When the power-hungry villain returned just the same, Dr. Strange defeated him (Marvel Fanfare #5).

Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 53. Nov. 1977. "Clea, the Mystic Maiden!" Naomi Basner (script), Sandy Plunkett (pencils), Tony Salmons (inks), Joe Rosen (letters), Marie Severin (colors), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Defenders #54 included a back-up tale titled Fury Times 5! Additional back-up stories might have worked well given the non-team format of the team.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Revisiting Red Guardian

The Incredible Hulk #250 included a dynamic page with Silver Surfer gliding through the sky, attracting the attention of heroes across the globe. The upper-left panel showcased the Soviet Super Soldiers, with Darksatar and Crimson Dynamo flying through the air. In the background, Red Guardian stood between Vanguard and (apparently) Ursa Major. The panel raised a question of continuity, as Ursa Major would receive his codename and join the Soviet Super Soldiers in #258-259; at the same time, Red Guardian continued to work alongside the Presence. Although a shoehorned explanation might suffice, the page could be taken symbolically, illustrating the international presence of superheroes, including many who would appear in The Contest of Champions.

The Incredible Hulk. Vol. 1. No. 250. August 1980. "Monsters!" Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema; John Costanza (letters), G. Roussos (colors), Al Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).

Saturday, March 6, 2021

To Abin Sur, With Love

The Squadron Supreme had twelve active members when they fought the non-team in Defenders #113. The Squadron Supreme limited series that followed would reveal a former member of the Squadron: a Skrull who helped found the group. Adding to the decided parallels between the Squadron Supreme and the Justice Leage of America, the green-skinned Skrull was a nod to J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

That Skrull turned out to be a counterpart to another character from DC Comics as well. In presenting the origin of Dr. Spectrum, Squadron Supreme #4 showed how the hero received his Power Prism as a gift after saving the Skrull's life. The Skrull, therefore, was analogous not only to Martian Manhunter but also to Abin Sur, the dying extraterrestrial who gave Green Lantern his Power Ring. I admired the clever and economical storytelling in blending two DC characters into one character in the Squadron Supreme. As a fan of this version of the Squadron Supreme, I also enjoyed seeing any glipse into the early years of the team.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

What if ... Thor Had Joined the Defenders?

Today's blog post takes inspiration from Marvel's classic series that asked, "What if…?" In that vein, I consider how a key decision in the formation of the Defenders might have unfolded differently.

On that fateful day when Dr. Strange formed the Defenders (Marvel Feature #1), Prince Namor was his first recruit. In need of a second ally with great physical strength, the sorcerer reluctantly selected the Hulk. Dr. Strange summoned the green goliath only because Silver Surfer was trapped on Earth and couldn't travel with them to another dimension, and because Dr. Strange presumed that Thor was unavailable. But what if Dr. Strange hadn't jumped to that conclusion? And what if Thor was indeed available? In other words, What if … Thor had joined the Defenders?

In this speculative timeline, Dr. Strange, Namor, and Thor would found the non-team. During their early adventures, the thunder god would prove as capable a Defender as the Hulk had been in the original published stories.

Without the Hulk, however, the events from Defenders #7 would play out differently. In the original story, Hawkeye tried to capture the Hulk and then accepted Valkyrie's offer to join the Defenders. (Valkyrie herself joined in Defenders #4.) Yet if Hulk had no ties to the Defenders, Hawkeye would not have met the non-team at that time, much less join them.

This change in lineup would affect the crossover event spanning Defenders #8-11; Avengers #115-118, when the two teams clashed. As originally published, Thor of the Avengers battled Hulk of the Defenders, while Iron Man of the Avengers squared off against Hawkeye of the Defenders. In this alternate version, Thor of the Defenders would battle Iron Man of the Avengers. In both versions, the teams would put their differences aside at the end of the story. Not everthing would balance out so evenly, however.

Nighthawk's membership into the Defenders (#13-14) would inevitably lead the non-team to meet Power Man and then battle the Wrecking Crew (#17-19). Here, fate would change irrevocably. The original story required Hulk to return to his alter ego as Bruce Banner and save the day by deactivating a dangerous Gamma Bomb. Unlike Banner, Thor's alter ego of Donald Blake was a physician, not a physicist. Without Bruce Banner's know-how, the Gamma Bomb would detonate and kill 20 million people. As a result, this story would end in tragedy, just like many tales published in the series What If…?

This panel with Dr. Strange and Bruce Banner comes from Defenders #19.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...