Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Matt Murdock: Attorney without Fear

Daredevil was a welcome guest star in the Defenders. In fact, his real-life identity as attorney Matt Murdock was probably more valuable to the team than his costumed persona.

Here are a few examples:

  • When police arrested Valkyrie for appearing to use undue violence against an opponent, Matt Murdock got those charges dropped (Defenders #40).
  • When Nighthawk faced legal troubles due to problems with his company's finances, Murdock did what he could to help (Defenders #88).
  • Murdock drafted the document that led to the celebrated amnesty of the Hulk (Incredible Hulk #279).
In short, the Defenders owed a lot to Matt Murdock!
This image of Daredevil appeared in the first edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Love Lost

Not long after Valkyrie regained her true Asgardian body and knowledge that her real name was Brunnhilda, Thor regained his memory that the two of them had been romantically involved in the distant past (Thor #296).

Thor tried to tell Valkyrie the news in Marvel Team-Up #116, but she rebuffed him. Noting that Thor was acting strangely when he tried to open up, Valkyrie exclaimed that her life was confusing enough without any more revelations. The response was humorous yet oddly consistent.

During the handful of times they worked together during crossover story arcs, Valkyrie and Thor had treated their shared ties to Asgard as almost incidental, showing no particular interest in each other. This benefited Valkyrie greatly as a character.

Keeping her back story independent allowed Valkyrie to grow as a character in her own right. If she and Thor had been depicted as a couple from the start, Valkyrie easily could have become overshadowed by the thunder god in the way that Clea was deferential to Dr. Strange or Wasp was so often an accessory to Yellowjacket.

As an aside, soon after Marvel Team-Up #116, Valkyrie expressed her own romantic feelings toward Sub-Mariner. But the Prince of Atlantis was emotionally unavailable (Defenders #116). That said, I think Valkyrie and Namor would have made an interesting couple.

J. M. DeMatteis wrote Marvel Team-Up #116 and Defenders #116.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Defender Apart

With a magic sword, the power to travel through dimensions, and a knack for fighting demons, Devil-Slayer worked better as a solo character than as a member of the Defenders (where various teammates already possessed each of his identifiable traits).

Marvel Team-Up #111 gave Devil-Slayer a chance to shine more or less on his own, while acknowledging his affiliation with the non-team. In that story, while the rest of the Defenders were captured, Devil-Slayer joined Spider-Man in foiling a plot by the Serpent Cult.

To trick the two heroes into helping them secure a magic lizard-totem from the hands of a Spider-God statue, six members of the cult mystically disguised as Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange, Gargoyle, Hulk, Valkyrie, and Clea. But Spider-Man outsmarted the cultists into revealing their true, reptilian forms.

The real Defenders escaped at the end of the issue.

Marvel Team-Up. Vol. 1. No. 111. Nov. 1981. "Of Spiders and Serpents!" J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Herb Trimpe (penciler), Mike Esposito (inker), Diana Albers (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Tom DeFalco (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).