Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hellcat: A Mind of Her Own

Hellcat was an oxymoron. She wanted to be a superhero but didn't want to admit she had superpowers.

Patsy Walker began her adventuring career as an Avengers trainee, wearing a cat uniform she found while assisting them (Avengers #144). Although the original Cat did not gain powers from her costume, Hellcat attributed her newfound athletic prowess to the costume rather than to her own innate ability.

When an opportunity came to officially join the Avengers, Hellcat accepted another request instead. In an unexpected turn of events, the sometimes-heroic Moondragon informed Hellcat that she too had extensive psionic potential, which required training to cultivate (Avengers #151).

Hellcat accompanied Moondragon to Titan, the moon of Saturn where Moondragon herself had been raised. But when celestial matters required Moondragon's attention, Hellcat returned to Earth six-weeks later and put her psionic development on hold (Defenders #44). That only lasted for so long.

When she almost died from strangulation at the hands of the supervillain Blob, Hellcat's full psychokinetic powers finally unleashed … BEEEEEE ZZZZZOW … knocking unconscious all of the villains (and heroes) in the vicinity (Defenders #64). This was just one of the reasons that many Defenders for a Day didn't stay longer.

Hellcat: Moondragon never told me I'd be able to do anything like this! But, then, she never mentioned the mind-power migraine it might give me either.

Following that unprecedented display of power, Hellcat remained reluctant to hone her mental abilities. In later issues of the Defenders, the unusual hero named Over-Mind jumped in as a psychic mentor to Hellcat. Even with the extra training, she never seemed comfortable moving objects with her mind or projecting psychokinetic bolts.

Incidentally, I think Hellcat's exceptional acrobatic skills make most sense when viewed, at least in part, as an manifestation of her mind-over-matter abilities.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Pretender-Defenders

Frog-Man may have been the only hero ever to get turned down by the Defenders. The problem was he showed up too late.

While Beast was on the lecture circuit, discussing the ins and outs of superheroics (Defenders #131), he and teammates Iceman and Angel faced the barely-super crook named Walrus.

The teenage hero known as Frog-Man joined the experienced trio during the fight and asked to become a Defender. For a time, that was about all it took to join. But the group's membership had largely solidified in #125, and the three New Defenders rejected the struggling young hero without even consulting the rest of the team.

At the end of the battle, Frog-Man's father (the reformed villain known as Leap-Frog) showed up to scold him for taking the frog-suit without permission.

Here's the kicker (which was not acknowledged in that issue): Leap-Frog was one of the numerous criminals who once pretended to be Defenders, hoping that their claims to heroism would protect them from arrest while committing crimes.

Several of the villainous Defenders for a Day had fought the Defenders before: Libra and Sagittarius (of the Zodiac), Plantman, Porcupine, and the Blob (fully recovered after he and other members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants reverted to infancy in Defenders #16).

Other villains posing as Defenders that day were Batroc the Leaper, Beetle, Boomerang, Electro, Joe the Gorilla, Looter, Melter, Pecos, Shocker, Toad, and Whirlwind (#63-64), until a group of real Defenders stopped them.

The scene of supervillains comes from Defenders #63. The above image of Frog-Man first appeared in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Defenders for a Day

The day after a TV documentary promoted the Defenders' loose membership policy, more than a dozen heroes arrived at Nighthawk's ranch ready to join the team. Instead of welcoming the prospective members, Nighthawk was enraged.

It's no wonder that the new members' first line of business was to get someone else in charge. Putting it to a vote, they elected Hercules as their leader, but only after Captain Mar-vell said he didn't want the job (Defenders #62).

In a highly strategic move, Valkyrie proposed that the crowd of heroes would work best if they divided into three smaller teams. Nighthawk and Hercules concurred.

Picking his team first, the Son of Zeus chose Black Goliath, Captain Ultra, Havok, Hellcat, Iron Fist, and White Tiger.

Valkyrie then selected Falcon, Jack of Hearts, Prowler, Stingray, and Torpedo. This set a precedent for Valkyrie's later stance (in #121, #126) that the Defenders did not need an official leader, unless of course it was her.

That left Nighthawk leading Marvel Man (Quasar), Nova, Polaris, Tagak, and Daimon Hellstrom ("Son of Satan"), who questioned Nighthawk's leadership skills from the get-go

Although all of the heroes who joined in issue #62 left by the end of #65, Hellstrom later became a regular member of the team. As an aside, there were no signs that Hellstrom and future-spouse Hellcat even noticed one another when he was a Defender for a Day.

As for Captain Mar-vell, the Kree warrior decided he didn't want to join the Defenders at all.

Ms. Marvel, who guest starred in #57, basically returned here to brag that she was now booked up as an Avenger.

And Paladin, who also arrived at the ranch that day, declined to join the team because he worked only for pay.

The Hulk, meanwhile, lept away after many of the one-shot Defenders tried to capture him.

Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 63. September 1978. "Deadlier by the Dozen!" David Kraft (story), Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney (artwork), J. Costanza (letters), R. Slifer (colors), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).