Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hank Pym, the Ultimate Defender

The Defenders never had it so bad as they did in Ultimates 2. Set in an alternate reality, #6 of that series depicted the Defenders as a group of struggling vigilantes with high hopes of stopping crime.

Misrepresenting their skills, resources, and connections, the group recruited Dr. Henry Pym into their ranks. With the ability to shrink as Ant Man or grow 60-feet-tall as Giant Man, he was actually the only member of these Defenders with any superhuman powers.

The 34-year-old biochemist soon found himself in a burgeoning romance with Barbara, a 19-year-old teammate who called herself Valkyrie. But that relationship made the sting all the more harsh when Hank learned that he he'd been misled.

Hank: You people don't really know Dr. Strange at all, do you?
Barbara: Nope. Or Iceman. Or Colossus. Or any of the other X-Men we kind of hinted might be signing up.
Having long felt like a second-class superhero, Hank's heart sank all the more when Barbara asked if he could dress up like Captain America.
Roll Call: (back) Nighthawk, Giant Man, (front) Power Man, Valkyrie, Son of Satan, Hellcat.
Not Pictured: Black Knight.
Ultimates 2. No. 6. July 2005. "The Defenders." Mark Millar (story), Bryan Hitch (pencils), Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary inks), Laura Martin (colors), Chris Ellopoulos (letters), Tom Valente (production), Nicole Wiley & John Barber, Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nine Lives

Published in cooperation with The Electric Company public television series, Spidey Super Stories teamed-up the web-slinger with other Marvel heroes each issue.

Created for young readers, these stories took place outside of the standard Marvel Universe and altered some of the characters in age-appropriate ways.

In standard Marvel Comics, the crimefighter originally known as Cat transformed into Tigra the were-woman in Giant-Size Creatures #1 (July 1974).

But that didn't prevent Cat, with her original yellow costume and black hair, from making a guest appearance in Spidey Super Stories #12 (Sept. 1975).

When Tigra did guest star in Spidey Super Stories #21 (Feb. 1977), she wore a full-piece costume, relatively conservative when compared with the two-piece outfit she wore in most of her other comic book appearances.

Don't be fooled by appearances. The heroine on the cover of Spidey Super Stories #39 (March 1979) had red hair that matched that of Patsy Walker (who as Hellcat was an active member of the Defenders by that time), but within that super story she still answered to the sanitized name of Cat.

Had the version of Cat from Spidey Super Stories #12 transformed into Tigra but then returned to human form? Or was the character in #39 a version of Patsy Walker who inherited the Cat costume and kept the "hell" out of her name?

Who had time to address such matters? After all, Thanos was overhead in a helicopter!

Spidey Super Stories. Vol. 1. No. 39. March 1979. "The Cat and the Cosmic Cube!" Nick Sullivan, Michael Siporin, Jim Salicrup (writers), Win Mortimer, Mike Esposito (artists), A. J. Hays, Deborah November (editors), Jim Shooter (Marvel consultant), Marie Severin (art director). The issue also included the story "Women's Day 1979," guest-starring Ms. Marvel, and "The Impossible Visitor from Outer Space," featuring the Impossible Man.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Out of the Shadows

Beginning with Secret Defenders #15, the mysterious Shadowoman became a core member of the team. This led to a recurring question on the series letters page, as reader after reader asked why Shadowoman appeared in the same red costume previously worn by Spider-Woman (specifically Jessica Drew).

The web-gliders on the sides of Spider-Woman's uniform were the key distinctions between the two characters.

The costume confusion ended with Secret Defenders #22 as Shadowoman not only adopted a new black uniform but also changed her codename. The character now called herself Sepulcre, a variant spelling of the word sepulchre, which hinted at the cryptic nature of her powers.

The cover of #22 showed the character's figuratively transform from her original Shadowoman costume into Sepulcre.