Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Happy New Year!!

At various times during its publication history, Marvel Age magazine ran a one-month calendar on the back cover, noting the birthdays of Marvel staff and including comedic bits. The calendar for December 1985 had room for a cheerful illustration wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

Comic books and other magazines often display a cover date set a few months in the future of the release date. In this case, that December 1985 calendar appeared on the back of Marvel Age #35 (cover date March 1986).

This makes Valkyrie's appearance in the New Year's scene especially noteworthy, as the future of the character was indeterminate as of New Defenders #152 (cover date February 1986). Given the character's longstanding history with the Defenders, I'm glad Marvel's creative team featured her in the end-of-the-year celebration.

That December calendar also noted Marvel staff with birthdays that month, most notably Stan Lee on December 28.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Stop the Train

The Defenders: The Best Defense #1 brought together four iconic members of the non-team, with Silver Surfer's board rescuing Sub-Mariner, and a future version of Dr. Strange enlisting the help of present-day Hulk. The story also included a surprise return of Nebulon (last seen in humanoid form in Avengers Annual #11).

The ultimate nemesis for the reunited Defenders, however, was the Conductor, a cosmic entity steering a metaphysical train that devours realities for fuel. Aspects of the Conductor are reminiscent of the Concordance Engines foreshadowed in Point One and appearing in Matt Fraction's 12-issue, time-traveling run on the Defenders (Volume 4). I'd like to imagine this is more than a coincidence.

This image of Nebulon in his true form comes from The Defenders: The Best Defense #1 (February 2019).

Monday, December 17, 2018


Silver Surfer: The Best Defense #1 revisits the character's origin and melancholic status as the herald of Galactus. Breaking up the drama is a young bystander who is under the impression that the Silver Surfer's actual name is Harold.

The hero's given name, of course, is Norrid Radd.

Silver Surfer: The Best Defense. No. 1. February 2019. Jason Latour (writer/artist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Alanna Smith (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor).

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Strange Ways

Dr. Strange: The Best Defense #1 shows the sorcerer late in life—arguably the last defender of a desolate Earth. Keeping him company is the enchanted head of Hulk, mystically modified to grow more powerful by absorbing magical energy. The story ends in an explosive showdown with Dr. Strange and Hulk against the malevolent Dormammu.

Furthering the subplot from previous Best Defense stories, a character in a ghost costume stabs another unsuspecting alien victim at an unspecified place and time.

Dr. Strange: The Best Defense. No. 1. February 2019. Gerry Duggan (writer). Greg Smallwood (artist). VC's Cory Petit (letterer). Alanna Sith (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor).

Saturday, December 8, 2018


The first two issues of The Best Defense have little in common, yet they introduce a shared subplot that promises to tie the stories together. Immortal Hulk: The Best Defense #1 includes an interlude in which a figure in a ghostly white sheet stabs a four-armed purple alien. The murderer utters a few words in English, while the victim speaks a minor Rimworld dialect.

Namor: The Best Defense #1 takes place in Atlantis, except for one page that is set Elsewhere. There, a similar scene occurs; this time with the ghost-clad figure stabbing a reptilian alien. The primary story with Namor references the Defenders of the Deep, with no hints that he might join forces with Hulk or other members of the original Defenders.

Immortal Hulk: The Best Defense #1 focuses almost entirely on Bruce Banner while using a creative technique to peer into his subconscious. Intermixed throughout the main story are reprinted panels from Hulk's original series—including his volatile partnership with Rick Jones.

The accompanying image from Incredible Hulk #1 (1961) was reprinted in Immortal Hulk: The Best Defense #1.