Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Knight of the Living Dead

When the evil Enchantress turned the Black Knight to stone in Defenders #4, Dr. Strange tried unsuccessfully to reverse the spell. Left with no other options, the magician kept the statue safely in his Sanctum Sanctorum.

On the heels of a cross-over event that spanned Avengers #115-118 and Defenders #8-11, the Defenders fought alongside the Black Knight in the flesh during a trip to his original time period of the 12th century.

But what became of the statue of Dane Whitman, the Black Knight?

Unexpectedly gaining consciousness in Avengers #157, the stone statue took revenge against his former teammates for forgetting about him. Breaking into Avengers Mansion, the powerful statue single-handedly defeated several of Earth's mightiest heroes. When it came his turn to face the statue, however, the android Vision explained that the statue wasn't truly the Black Knight after all. The soul of Dane Whitman had actually returned to the 12th century when his body turned to stone. After learning the truth, the statue crumbled into pieces.

But what had caused the statue to suddenly gain consciousness? Perhaps it was a delayed side effect of Dr. Strange's earlier attempt to restore the statue to life.

Avengers. Vol. 1 . No. 157. March 1977. "A Ghost of Stone!" Gerry Conway (writer/editor), Don Heck (guest artist), Pablo Marcos (inker), Gaspar Saladino (letterer), Don Warfield (colorist).

Friday, October 6, 2017


The recent loss of former teammate Black Widow brought Iceman, Angel, Ghost Rider, Hercules, and Darkstar back to Los Angeles to grieve—and also to reminisce about their days as Champions (Iceman #6).

The group learned that their former headquarters was now a fitness center, and Iceman felt all the more smited when someone mistook him for the Silver Surfer.

In his plain-clothes identity as Bobby Drake, the now-out hero kissed a man for the first time while on an impromptu date. The evening ended abruptly, however, with the arrival of Sentinels (which the team fought in Champions #17, the last issue of their original series).

Sina Grace wrote Iceman #6 (December 2017). A back-up story by Robbie Thompson recounted the hero's origin and personal history, including a flashback to the fight scene from the cover of New Defenders #126.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Losing Power

During a time when Thing lost his superhuman powers and returned to the human form of Ben Grimm, the Fantastic Four hired Power Man to step in as the team's resident heavy-hitter. But how did Power Man's strength compare to that of the Thing?

When Power Man fell under the evil influence of the Puppet Master in Fantastic Four #170 (May 1976), Mr. Fantastic designed an exo-suit to give Ben Grimm the rocky appearance he had as the Thing and increase his strength many times. While wearing the suit, Ben Grimm seemed evenly matched against Power Man.

By Fantastic Four #171 (June 1976), Ben Grimm's strength inside the exo-suit increased even more—now surpassing Power Man and matching 90% of Thing's previous strength. Ben resumed his place among the Fantastic Four and soon transformed back into his rocky form.

From as early as Fantastic Four #12 to as recently as #166, Thing was among a handful of super-strong characters with a long history of holding their own against the Hulk. Power Man, on the other hand, didn't claim to compete with the green goliath. In-story context consistently gave the impression that Hulk was a notch stronger than Thing, and that Thing was stronger than Power Man. As Hulk's estimated strength continued to increase over the years, Thing's relative strength increased as well. Power Man's strength level, meanwhile, didn't escalate.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1983) originally noted that Hulk could comfortably lift (press) 90 tons and had been able to lift well over 100 tons while angry, whereas Thing could lift (press) 85 tons in peak condition. Rather than stating how much Power Man could lift, the original handbook instead noted that Power Man could punch through several feet of most modern, conventional building materials such as brick, concrete, and masonry; and with repeated blows, can rupture 4-inch steel plate.

Even though Power Man once filled in for the Thing, comic books and related references have tended to downplay Power Man's superhuman strength while emphasizing his invulnerability instead.

These images from Fantastic Four #170 show Ben Grimm learning about the exo-suit and then wearing the exo-suit while fighting Power Man.