Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Anatomy Lessons


Reading comics in my formative years, two issues of the Defenders particularly drew my attention to the body types of the characters.

This image of Valkyrie, Hellcat, and Red Guardian from the closing page of Defenders #44 was the first time I noticed different breast sizes among super-heroines.

It goes without saying that Hulk is more muscular than the average hero. But I remember thinking how his super-developed torso on the cover of Defenders #87 looked like a face.

Both of these examples invariably say more about my age at the time I first read these issues than the artwork itself.


Monday, April 15, 2013


The most moving, truly unique story of the year! So said a cover blurb on Marvel Team-Up #119. The issue itself paired Spider-Man with Gargoyle in a tale about aging and mortality. Gargoyle came to accept that, even in the body of a demon, he could do good in the world.

By this point, Marvel Team-Up had become supplemental reading for fans of the Defenders. The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man had co-starred in recent issues with Valkyrie (#116), Devil-Slayer (#111), and Nighthawk (#101).

In spite of his adventures with various Defenders, the web-slinger explained to Gargoyle why he himself didn't belong in the non-team (#119).

Spider-Man: Whipping across the dimensions--fighting the Enchantress and her winged beasties--might be right up the Defenders' alley--but I've always been the down-to-earth sort myself!
Marvel Team-Up. Vol. 1. No. 119. July 1982. "Time, Run Like a Freight Train …" J.M. DeMatteis (scripted), Kerry Gammill (penciler), Mike Esposito (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Tom DeFalco (editor), Jim Shooter (chief).
That same month, Spider-Man guest-starred in Defenders #109 (July 1982), with his head featured in the cover corner that issue.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kangaroo Court

When a special tribunal of the International Court of Justice charged Magneto with crimes against humanity in Uncanny X-Men #200, the scope of the legal proceedings hinged on the time Mutant Alpha reverted the master of magnetism from an adult to an infant (Defenders #16).

Prosecuting the case against Magneto was Sir James Jaspers, attorney-general of England. Leading the defense, Gabrielle Haller argued to strike all criminal counts that happened prior to that incident with Mutant Alpha.

Gabrielle Haller: As I was saying -- at that time, Magneto was reduced to infancy, returned to a state of grace. His life can be said to have begun again. The man that was, at that moment, ceased to exist. In effect. he died. Which is, of course, the ultimate penalty for any crime.
James Jaspers: Objection! This is the most preposterous perversion--!

Building her defense, Gabrielle Haller noted that Magneto was an adolescent during his internment at a Nazi concentration camp. Yet, decades later, medical testimony would now place the mutant criminal in his early 30s instead of his much older chronological age.

James Jaspers: That's irrelevant! He committed those crimes, regardless of his age!

After a long deliberation, the court found in favor of the defense, restricting the indictment to those crimes committed after Magneto's "resurrection" (the court's term, not mine).

I, on the other hand, would have sided with the prosecution. For starters, Magneto did not die at the hands of Mutant Alpha. And once restored to physical prime through the actions of Eric the Red (X-Men #104), Magneto retained his full memories and mental faculties. His biological age may have altered back and forth, but he was the same person as before.

The Uncanny X-Men. Vol. 1. No. 200. December 1985. "The Trial of Magneto!" Chris Claremont (writer), John Romita Jr. & Dan Green (artists), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief).