Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Time Machine

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells must have been required reading for the Defenders. The characters discussed the 1895 novella without directly stating the title.

To escape from a horde of vampires in Defenders #95 (May 1981), Daimon Hellstrom recited an ancient chant to safely move his teammates several hours into the future. Afterward, Gargoyle asked if they had traveled through time like H.G. Wells. Hellstrom explained that they did travel through time, though not precisely in the way Gargoyle imagined.

When Dr. Strange suggested sending Spider-Man 20,000 years backward through time in Marvel Team-Up #112 (Dec. 1981), the wall-crawler said in jest that he was not H.G. Wells. Dr. Strange clarified that he intended to send Spider-Man's astral form to the ancient past while keeping his physical body in the present. The purpose of the mission was to find a cure to an illness Spider-Man contracted from the reptile cult in #111.

An adaption of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells appeared in Marvel Classics Comics #2 (1976). Set in the distant future, the evolutionary tale depicts two offshoots of humanity: the surface-dwelling Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks. Appropriately enough, a group of mutant outcasts introduced in Uncanny X-Men #169 (May 1983) called themselves the Morlocks.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Priorities of Paladin

The mercenary Paladin, who served briefly as one of the Last Defenders, makes a worthy candidate for discussion of character class in Dungeons & Dragons. Historically defined as a royal knight, a Paladin in the classic rules for the D&D role-playing game was bound to a strict moral code described as Lawful Good. The D&D source book Deities and Demigods classified King Arthur as a Paladin.

The Marvel character Paladin, on the other hand, did not adhere to such narrow criteria. While Paladin's line of work regularly brought him in opposition to evil-doers, he was motivated by a desire to get paid by his clients rather than by a desire to do good deeds. When circumstances led Paladin to meet other superheroes, he wondered why they chose to fight crime for free. Unlike Luke Cage, who also made crime-fighting his professional career, Paladin described himself as a soldier-of-fortune rather than a hero-for-hire.

Given his cavalier disposition, it's unlikely that Paladin spent much time worrying if his code name was in fact a misnomer. He once joked, however, that Janet Van Dyne called herself the Wasp because she was a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #105).

Paladin got his first solo story in Marvel Premiere #43 (Aug. 1979). The character made his first appearance in Daredevil #150 (Jan. 1978).