Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Defenders Defenses

Considering how often villains broke into their headquarters, the New Defenders needed to bump up their security measures.

Defenders #145 showed their upgraded base, protected by holograms of several heroes carrying guns.

The life-like holograms included the three founding members of Hulk, Prince Namor, and Dr. Strange, along with recurring ally Captain America, and Wolverine, who had never worked with the Defenders but later joined the Secret Defenders.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Moondragon had shown a maternal protectiveness toward Cloud ever since the younger hero joined the team. When an encounter with the villain Manslaughter left Moondragon shaken, Cloud offered comforting words, and said, "I love you." And she didn't mean platonically.

That was the closing scene in Defenders #134. The following issue showed Cloud's misgivings about her feelings, echoing the thoughts many people face when coming to understand their sexuality. This was groundbreaking material for mainstream comics at the time (before Northstar became the first major comic book hero to officially come out of the closet in Alpha Flight #106).

A surprise for readers came in Defenders #136 when the female hero transformed into cloud form, then resolidified as a young man—describing the metamorphosis as a way to be close to Moondragon without raising eyebrows about homosexuality.

Cloud: (As a male) I can love you, Moondragon--everything that was wrong is now right! I can love you--and I do.

It didn't matter whether Cloud was male or female. The feelings were unrequited either way. Moondragon put her cards on the table in #140, explaining how she had inadvertently manipulated Cloud's feelings (following telepathic commands she began using as early as #126) in an attempt to persuade someone to help remove the mystical headband that limited her power.
Moondragon: I was sending out subliminal sexual impulses in hope that someone, Angel or Iceman say, would fall in love and so help to remove the band. You got caught in that net. Please shake off your mad impulse--as I have shaken off mine.

Cloud: It's not a mad impulse! But--all right--before I go--just tell me one thing--does it mean you don't love me at all?

Moondragon: If you can tell me what love is--then I can answer you. Otherwise--

Cloud: I see. Goodbye, Moondragon.

For all her arrogance, Moondragon was remorse that she may have unintentionally altered the emotions of someone else—particularly someone to whom she felt kindness. But maybe Moondragon wasn't at fault. Attraction isn't always rational. Perhaps Cloud's feelings toward the standoffish telepath were indeed real.
Peter B. Gillis wrote the Defenders issues that disclosed the feelings between Cloud and Moondragon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What if Rick Jones Had Become the Hulk?

In issue #12 of the classic What If…? series, Rick Jones became the Hulk instead of Dr. Banner, recasting the heroism both men displayed during the Hulk's early appearances.

In that alternate story from 1978, the green-skinned Rick Jones initially joined the Avengers (as the original Hulk had), then trained under Captain America and assisted Captain Mar-vell (much as Rick Jones had in the core Marvel Universe).

Notice how the art aptly depicts Jones-Hulk in bluejeans, while Banner wears his trademark purple pants.

Like many comic books of this period, #12 promoted the Hulk's live-action TV series on the cover. What also caught my attention was how a note on the opening page emphasized that the character from The Incredible Hulk TV show was not the same character from the comics.

You've read of DR. ROBERT BRUCE BANNER's career as the ever-incredible Hulk—and, more recently, you've savored one DAVID BANNER's stint as ol' greenskin in living color on TV. Now, here's the most OFFBEAT Hulk of all--!