Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Defenders Dialogue: Lost Souls

What made the Defenders a team was always fodder for debate. This letter from Defenders #31 nicely summed up why four of the earliest members stayed together.

Dear Defenders Dynamoes,

I hate to tell you this, but the Defenders aren't going to work. The original idea of a group that is a non-team and doesn't really exist isn't going to last because as long as the four main Defenders (Hulk, Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, and Nighthawk) live and fight together, they will become a team in almost every sense of the word, and not a non team.

In FOOM #7; the Avengers' butler Jarvis states that there is no interdependency which binds the Avengers together as a team. But there is an interdependency which holds the Defenders together. There must be. All the Defenders are really "lost souls" (Dr. Strange might be the exception to the rule) who have found their place in life as Defenders.

Hulk and the Valkyrie are most obvious as "lost souls" because of their pasts. The Hulk has been tortured and persecuted his entire life, with only a few friendships, none of which have lasted. He has finally found friends and he realizes it, so why should he leave? Who would?

Valkyrie is really a lost soul. She was, as we all know, created by the Enchantress into the body of Barbara Denton Norriss. She has managed to scrape up Barbara's past, including an unwanted husband, but she has no real past of her own to build on. So she stays with the Defenders, where she belongs, and where she has friends who care about her. Let us not forget the relationships that she has built with the other Defenders. With Dr. Strange I see a sister and brother relationship. She is carrying on a troubled romance with Kyle. The most interesting of these relationships is that which I see has developed between herself and the Hulk. I would say that the Hulk almost has a crush, of sorts, on Val. And Val has grown quite found of this greenskinned goliath with the mind of a small child. Nighthawk has gone from an aimless millionaire to an aimless villain. He has finally found his aim in life and his fulfillment as a Defender. What more can be said?

Dr. Strange is almost the exception. He has fulfillment and aim elsewhere. He has a past, he has a future. For all of these years he has been operating very well, he does not need steam.

Except, he is a loner of sorts. Even though he saved humanity, he has remained apart from it. Very few humans even know of his existence. His relationship with Wong is strictly business. Clea is a loner. Other than those two, and besides the Defenders, he has no other human relations. Now perhaps, isn't he remaining with the Defenders because he needs other people? Because he can't exist as an island any longer? The others need their individual forms of fulfillment; he needs other people.

So there is an interdependency which holds the Defenders together. I say fine. Let their relationships grow and evolve as they must. It will be these relationships which decide who comes and who leaves the Defenders. But let it be natural. Don't foresee anything because you think so-and-so would look nice in this magazine.

I would like to see one or two new members though. Four isn't a very big group. Especially when two of the characters have their series and can't do much developing here. Let Steve Gerber create a new female character. I'm very much in favor of that.

Larry (Fooman Torch) Twiss
King of Prussia, PA


Anonymous said...

Here's a cool "Fantasy-Football" meets What If?
Defenders cover:

Cease said...

Fortunately, Gerber DOES create a female character, though the Red Guardian couldn't quite stand out as uniquely as she did in the USSR- stories we just weren't going to see much. I enjoy her comparisons and commentary under Steve.

I liked reading the letters from these issues.
I particularly enjoy the insightful ones that detect subtext and add to the rich experience of reading the book.
The next issue proves Gerber is right in line with Kyle as a Lost Soul. I wish he could've followed up potential changes in him after his brain's re-attached.
DAK's Hulk is as good as the one under Gerber!
Just a twist of comedy to lighten the still-inherent pathos.
Good catch on Doc using the Defenders for socializing the little bit he does. Interestingly, Doc questions the effect of this on his mindset during the Headmen subtle-brainwash scam.

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