Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The One and Only

Back in the days when comic book series routinely added a king-size stand-alone issue once per year, the Defenders had only one "annual" of their own.

Published in 1976, Defenders Annual #1 opened with the team watching a videotape of agent Jack Norriss describing uncharacteristic emotional reactions on the part of the heroes ever since their encounter with the Headmen in Defenders #33.

That call to action prompted Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Red Guardian, and Power Man to investigate a series of unusual political turnabouts across the globe. With help from the Hulk, they thwarted the Headmen's bid for world domination in the process.

But the Headmen weren't the only threat at hand.

Having surmised that Nebulon might be responsible for some of the international upheaval, Dr. Strange held his ground against the extraterrestrial instigator during a climactic battle of wits. While Nebulon told of his plans to mentally reprogram humanity into a state of "liberation," the sorcerer maintained that "free will" was a necessity for the people of Earth.

Dr. Strange: We attain our most glorious heights when we admit our ignorance … and force onward to surmount it. Perhaps this classes us as anomalies in the universe, but--
Nebulon: Enough, Strange! I concede! Your race is beyond redemption! And so I hereby abandon my efforts--to--

Although Nebulon disappeared at the end of the debate, he became one of the Defenders' most persistent foes.

Defenders Annual. Vol. 1. No. 1. 1976. "World Gone Sane?" Steve Gerber (writer), Sal Buscema & Klaus Janson (artists), John Costanza (letterer) D. Warfield (colorist), Archie Goodwin (editor).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Speaking Volumes

Since newer comics do not include the volume number on the copyright page, as comics of earlier years had, I checked the Marvel Comics Database to see that the latest Defenders series (bringing Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk into the fold) is indeed Volume 4.

Volume 1 was the original run of the Defenders that began in the 1970s, with Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, and Hulk as founding members. The Silver Surfer was the first of numerous heroes to unofficially join the non-team.

Because the issue-to-issue numbering stayed consistent, the series remained Volume 1 even when the title changed to the New Defenders (issues #125-152).

Volume 2 was most notable for giving Samantha Parrington a chance to reprise the role of Valkyrie and work with the Defenders. In this twelve-issue limited series from 2001, she shared the spotlight with six of the most recognized members of the team: Nighthawk, Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Hellcat, and Hulk.

Volume 3 brought back Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, and Silver Surfer for a dimension-hopping limited series. The ever-dreaded Dormammu was the group's primary adversary during this five-issue adventure from 2005.

Series with variant titles (including Secret Defenders and Last Defenders) were each published as Volume 1 in their own right.