Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blame It on Madame MacEvil

How appropriate that in her first appearance Moondragon referred to herself as Madame MacEvil (Iron Man #54). She was one of numerous Defenders who made their debut as villains. Hidden in an undersea vessel, Madame MacEvil used advanced technology to seize control of Iron Man's armor, forcing him to battle Sub-Mariner. With half-human, half-Atlantean physiology, Prince Namor would make the ideal scientific specimen for Madame MacEvil—if she could compel Iron Man to defeat him. But Iron Man's mind was still intact, and he tried to explain that he wasn't in control of his actions while attacking Namor. Considering how often they had battled over the years, it's little surprise that the Prince of Atlantis wasn't convinced. While secretly observing the fight, Madame MacEvil squabbled with her ship's computer. She and the machine took turns throwing insults back and forth, calling each other too cold or too emotional. Iron Man eventually regained control of his armor and flew off, leaving the Prince of Atlantis understandably confused. At the end of the issue, neither of them knew that Madam MacEvil had orchestrated the dispute.

Iron Man. Vol. 1. No. 54. January 1973. "Sub-Mariner: Target for Death!" Mike Friedrich (script), George Tuska (pencils), Vinnie Colletta (inks), Artie Simek (lettering), Roy Thomas (editing), Story idea & helping hand from: Bill Everett.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Two other blogs were kind enough to recognize The Defenders Fansite with Kreativ Blogger and One Lovely Blog Award earlier this year. So the time feels right to do some acknowledging of my own.

Dispatches from the Arrow Cave was the first superhero blog I began following. I especially enjoy the posts on Green Arrow's insurmountable array of trick arrows.

Why do bad things happen to smart villains? Silver Age Comics answers this question with an inspiring series of panels labeled When I'm the Evil Genius.

The extensive issue-by-issue coverage at Justice League of America Satellite ultimately prompted me to create this blog surveying the Defenders. My favorite JLA posts are those labeled new member, which also tell when heroes chose not to join.

Although the topic seldom crops up in Defenders discussions, scientific literacy is one of my areas of interest. I highly recommend the conscientious section on Daredevil Science at The Other Murdock Papers.

Fortress of Baileytude deserves credit for having the most comically complete bio About The Guy Writing This Blog. On that site, I recently began listening to the postcast Tales of the Justice Society, reporting on the heroes of Earth 2 and the memorable Hostess ads that filled comic books for many years.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Defenders Dialogue: Seeing Is Believing

The letters page in Defenders #2 addressed the death-defying pronouncements made on many comic book covers of that era—and the proclamations at the end several early Defenders adventures.

Dear Stan, Roy, Ross, and Bill,

Just a few comments on M.F. #3.

The cover was no good because of what Titan says. The Hulk is obviously not dead. You keep having villains on the covers using similar phrases like, "They're dead at last!" or "I've won at last! I've killed him" I wish you'd start showing on the cover what happens in the book.

The story was well done and very original, not like any I've read before. Keep Everett on the inks, please.

One problem: you can't have, at the end of each issue, the Sub-Mariner or the Hulk claiming, "Don't call on us in earth's next hour of need. We won't come!" This would ruin everything. If the Defenders split, as Subby keeps saying, please, please give the mag to Doc Strange. Remember, he can never give up his powers again.

Rick Keefe
Etters, Pa

The creators replied to the letter by referencing a 1972 issue of Captain America with cover dialogue suggesting that the hero might die.

If you picked up CAPTAIN AMERICA #152 (and we're sure you did), you saw our plea for opinions on how to do the covers. We aren't sure whether we should take artistic license on them or not, so we're taking a poll, and your "not" vote has been dutifully recorded, Rick.

Now, you must remember that the Defenders are not the Avengers. They are three unique individuals who band together due to the need or common goal or to help a friend—not because they are a formal group have have consciously decided to stay together. If they get mad at each other, they could all go their separate ways, without a backward glance. We sure hope they don't, though.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dr. Strange and the Avengers

Not long before the Defenders formed, the master of the mystic arts sought the help of Black Panther, Hawkeye, and Vision to stop a netherwordly threat (Avengers #61).

One of the highlights of the issue was hearing the characters' interactions with one another. Although Dr. Strange was one of the first Marvel characters introduced in the 1960s, the Avengers assembled in #61 had little knowledge of the sorcerer's powers at the time.

During the story, Dr. Strange performed emergency surgery to save the Black Knight—who then accompanied the other heroes in a fight against the ice demon Ymir and fire demon Surtur.

Although the operation was a success, the doctor's hands shook during the procedure as a sign of the nerve damage that ended his surgical career. The trepidation led to Red Guardian joining the Defenders. Early in the series, Dr. Strange used magic to again rescue the Black Knight (Defenders #11).

I'm glad that Dr. Strange ditched the face mask by the time the Defenders formed; he looked more approachable without it.

Avengers. Vol. 1. No. 61, February 1969. "Some Say the World Will End in Fire … Some Say in Ice!" Stan Lee (editor), Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (artist), George Klein (inker), Sam Roben (letterer).