Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Neutral by Nature: Godzilla

The nine-alignment system outlined in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons recognized that some creatures lack the intelligence to consider Good vs. Evil or Law vs. Chaos. Within the realm of comic books, the character Godzilla fit into this brand of neutrality. Godzilla's monstrous size, however, posed a very real threat to those around and prompted characters of various alignments to take action.

Godzilla #3 found the giant lizard in San Francisco, facing the Champions superhero team on top of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division). Although both groups had similar objectives to subdue the giant lizard, S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Timothy "Dum-Dum" Dugan refused to work alongside any of the Champions.

Dugan: Far as I'm concerned, you're a civilian and that makes you a vigilante--and that makes you a lawbreaker!

Through the lens of AD&D, Dugan wouldn't recognize the Champions unless they too were Lawful Good. As such, while S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Champions remained at odds, Godzilla managed to escape.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Godzilla. Vol. 1. No. 3. October 1977. "A Tale of Two Saviors." Doug Moench (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Tony Dezuniga (inker), Wohl & Watanabe (letterers), Don Warfield (colorist), Archie Goodwin (editor).

Monday, April 20, 2020

Defending Dracula

Daimon Hellstrom made a curious decision in Defenders #95. To ward off a horde of vampires, he cast an ancient spell to cause the sun to rise. Dracula was among the vampires present and, a moment before the spell took affect, Hellstrom privately warned Dracula to flee.

The other Defenders understandably wondered why the Son of Satan spared the Lord of Vampires. Hellstrom explained that Dracula had negotiated a temporary truce with heroes and deserved mercy.

Hellstrom: For all his sins, Dracula is a man of his word.

The decision, however, may have had less to do with the ethics of Dracula and more to do with Hellstrom's need to find compassion within himself.

For background, Dracula was not on favorable terms with Daimon Hellstrom's father. Satan took vengeance against Dracula by ridding him of vampiric powers in Tomb of Dracula #64, forcing him to live as a normal human for several issues. To Dracula, temporarily becoming a mere mortal was far worse than the plight of a vampire.

Tomb of Dracula. Vol. 1. No. 64. May 1978. "Life After Undeath." Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), Gene Colan & Tom Palmer (illustrators), Denise V. Wohl (letters), Francoise M. (colors).

Monday, April 13, 2020

Rampagers Ravings: Weak Hulk?

The letters column from the U.K. magazine Rampage #30 included the following correspondence about perceived differences in the treatment of Hulk in Defenders #23 (reprinted in Rampage) and Hulk's solo adventures reprinted in The Mighty World of Marvel (MWOM).


Dear Marvel,

You print of lot of letters which moan about minor mistakes. Here's a simple question about the main plot. I defy you absolutely to find a reasonable answer. Here goes: How did the Sons of the Serpent stop the Hulk when Iron Man can't?

With a few ray-blasters designed to knock out normal human beings (which is physically vulnerability-wise what Dr. Strange and Nighthawk are in the day time)? They 'weakened' Hulk more than Iron Man's repulsors and the US Army's artillery shell ever did. ('Big Bullets sting Hulk').

Or was it those electric snakes which packed more power than Iron Man's armour? Have the Sons of the Serpent better scientists working for them than Tony Stark?

It just won't wash! The Hulk has proved a match for Iron Man and other more powerful foes like the Nightcrawler in his illustrious career. He's been knocked out by powerful explosions occasionally — but never weakened gradually. The Hulk who appears in the Defenders just isn't the same 'Ol Greenskin who appears in MWOM. You'd never take such liberties with him!

D.P. Victor,

Wait just a minute there, Mr. D.P. Victor! — You say that never before has Hulk been gradually weakened, but as we always say at the Bullpen, there's a first time for everything! And it happened in Rampage, people, right before your very eyes! Actually, is it surprising that Hulk succumbed to those blasts after his 'shocking' experience with the snakes? After all, there were six of them ganging up against poor ole Greenskin, and that's not fair odds to begin with, is it? Anyway, as it was said, the ray-blasts and the electricity probably dissipated some of his body's energy. To put it another way, and to quote one of the Sons of the Serpent, 'Guess he just ran out of Gamma rays'. Happens to the best of us, s'pose!

Rampage #30 reprinted Defenders #30, introducing one-shot villain Tapping Tommy. As a child, his parents had operated a Los Angeles distillery during Prohibition and he maintained ties to organized crime as an adult. Tapping Tommy's fixation with Hollywood films, particularly musicals, inspired his deadly Theatre of Fear!
A back-up story in Rampage #30 reprinted Invincible Iron Man #39, featuring the villain Mandarin.