Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Strange Heroes

Timed to coincide with the relaunch of the Defenders series, The Defenders: Strange Heroes works as a partial companion guide to the non-team.

Following the encyclopedia-style format of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, this 64-page volume provides an historical overview of the various incarnations of the Defenders, with updated individual entries on Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Namor, Red She-Hulk, and Silver Surfer.

Rather than showcasing other prominent heroes, The Defenders: Strange Heroes tends to focus on lesser-known villains and supporting characters. Case in point: The entry on Nighthawk describes the Earth-S counterpart who briefly assisted the Defenders, not the longtime member of the team.

While the end result might feel more like a grab bag than an exhaustive resource, I was particularly happy to find entries on the Chorus, the land of Here (and There), and Gargantua (called Leviathan when he battled the New Defenders).

Full entries also appear on the following:
Aleta, Andromeda Attumasen, Ardina, Belathauzer, Cyrus Black, Cloud, Doctor Spectrum (Squadron Sinister), Dollar Bill, Dolly Donahue, Eel (Stryke), Foolkiller (Salinger), Jake Fury, Gamma Spores, Geatar, Lorelei (Asgardian), Mad-Dog, Manslaughter, Jerry Morgan ("Shrunken Bones"), Nebulon, Jack Norriss, Richard Rory, Rose of Purity/Wasteland, Sea Urchin, Seraph (Tolsky), Slorioth, Solarr, Star of Capistan, Trish Starr, Torpedo (Jones), and Zusommin (viral swarm).

These characters receive half-page entries:
Blowtorth Brand, Dafydd ap Iowerth, Ludberdites, Papa Hagg, Sunshine Gross, and Tapping Tommy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here at Last!

The closing pages of the seven-issue Fear Itself limited series worked as a segue, with Hulk heading to the home of Stephen Strange.

When Wong greeted him at the door, Hulk pushed the servant out of the way and barged inside. The green goliath requested that Dr. Strange come to his aid to defeat Nul, a being best understood as rage incarnate.

The story continued in the highly anticipated debut of the latest Defenders series. To proceed on the quest, Dr. Strange in turn requested the aid of Namor, Silver Surfer, Red She-Hulk, and Iron Fist—all featured prominently on the cover of Defenders #1

As the adventure moved forward, the heroes ventured to Wundagore Mountain, which Dr. Strange aptly compared to The Island of Doctor Moreau. The issue ended on a suspenseful note, as one of the mountain inhabitants introduced himself as the legendary Prester John.

I certainly like the refreshing approach that the creative team is taking in both the writing and the artwork. I hope this new series has a long life ahead of it.

Defenders. No. 1. February 2012. "Breaker of Worlds Part 1: I Hate Myself and Want to Die." Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Rachel Dodson (inker), Sonia Oback (colorist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer).
The top image comes from Epilogue 4 of Fear Itself. No. 7. December 2011.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Calling All Defenders

When Sub-Mariner sought revenge against the warlord Attuma for overthrowing New Atlantis, Dr. Strange offered his assistance. But with only the young mutant Loa at their side, the master of the mystic arts called for reinforcements (Fear Itself: The Deep #1).

Casting a spell initially designed to gather alchemical ingredients, Dr. Strange intended to summon core members of the Defenders. To everyone's surprise, the magic summoned Lyra (a.k.a. the Savage She-Hulk), even though she had never fought with the team. Lyra's mother was Thundra, a 23rd-century amazon—and her "father" was genetically engineered DNA from the Hulk, which explained why the magic inadvertently brought her instead.

Silver Surfer soon joined the fray as well, more or less rounding out this grouping of Defenders.

Yet against the armies of Attuma, Dr. Strange tried widening the scope of the earlier spell to summon even more allies. This time, to everyone's amazement, the magic summoned 11 more heroes who previously called themselves Defenders or accompanied the Defenders at least once (Fear Itself: The Deep #4).

Roll call:
(Top) Stingray, Cloak, Devil-Slayer.

(Middle) Daimon Hellstrom, Dagger, Blazing Skull, Black Panther, Hellcat.

(Bottom) Cloud, Moon Knight, Gargoyle.

Cullen Bunn wrote Fear Itself: The Deep, one of several Fear Itself limited series published in 2011.