Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Seems Like Old Times

The prophecy that forced the four earliest Defenders to leave the team in #125 turned out to be in err, allowing them to later join forces again as they routinely had done in the past. Why anyone believed the psychopathic Elf to begin with was never adequately explained.

Of all the attempts to bring back the non-team, my favorite was the four-part "Return of the Defenders" storyline that ran through the 1992 annuals of the Incredible Hulk, Namor, the Silver Surfer, and Dr. Strange.

These heroes had faced extra-dimensional entities countless times in the past. But for a welcome change of pace, throughout much of the cross-over adventure, Sub-Mariner's mind was trapped within the body of Rick Jones, adding room for humor and giving Hulk's first friend a well-deserved place among the Defenders. Meanwhile, Prince Namor's true form was under an evil magician's control.

What also made this reunion memorable was the way the characters interacted like old friends instead of reluctant allies. Their bickering bellied a level of comaraderie they'd seldom shown in the original series.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The More Things Change...

After their eventful wedding in Defenders #125, newlyweds Daimon Hellstrom and Patsy Walker had planned to lead so-called "normal" lives.

But honeymoons are often short-lived for superheroes, and it was only a matter of time before the couple joined earth's mightiest heroes against the netherworldly forces of Master Pandemonium (West Coast Avengers #14-16).

Yet Daimon softened his image with his reintroduction. Instead of "Son of Satan," he called himself "Hellstorm" while sporting a more conventional costume than the shirtless uniform he'd worn in the past.

Patsy, meanwhile, kept her longstanding Hellcat costume, which had more context this adventure than usual. The Avengers story marked her long-awaited team-up with Tigra, who had worn the original Cat suit years before.

The above image of Hellstorm first appeared in a volume of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Super Insomnia

For all the tragedy that struck the Defenders, there was humor and irony along the way. This panel from Defenders #120 showed the Defenders responding when Hellcat woke up screaming from a nightmare that Daimon Hellstrom was in trouble.

Seen here with her hair up in curlers, housekeeper Dolly Donahue would advise Hellcat not to get involved with the so-called Son of Satan.

Yet those concerns didn't prejudice Dolly against Gargoyle; she in fact developed warm feelings toward the winged hero. Wearing a nightshirt and cap to bed, there was no doubt that a genuine man resided inside his demonic form.

Even with her sword up in the air, it was a change of pace to see Valkyrie in a nightgown instead of armor. With most of his body covered for a change, the blue-furred Beast looked almost inconspicuous in this scene.

Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 120. June 1983. "Sanctuary." J.M. DeMatteis (scripter), Don Perlin (penciler) Abel, MeMulder & Mushynsky (inkers), Shelly Leferman (letterer), George Rousos (colorist), Allen Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (chief).

Monday, January 4, 2010

The End of an Era

Gargoyle vanished mysteriously in Defenders #134, teleported away by mystic forces. He returned in #136, forced into a malevolent plot that would pit him against his teammates.

During the effort to release Gargoyle from an evil sorcerer's control, Moondragon tried to mentally persuade him to remove her mystic headband so she could use her mental abilities at full strength (#137). Moondragon's idea failed, and her motives remained suspect.

As part of her on-again, off-again path to redemption, the self-proclaimed goddess later admitted that she had been mentally drawing enemies to the Defenders. She hoped that similarly dangerous situations might lead someone to set her free to use her power without inhibition (#139).

Gargoyle's vulnerability to evil forces and Moondragon's corrupt ambition were themes that continued to drive the team's storylines until the original Defenders/New Defenders series ended with #152.