Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sub-Mariner Meets the Creature from the Black Lagoon

In 1954, the same year that The Creature from the Black Lagoon premiered in theaters, Prince Namor faced a menace with a striking resemblance to the Hollywood monster. The story opened with Namor showing his friend Betty Dean a letter asking for help. The ambiguous letter was signed by a Professor Zunbar (Sub-Mariner Comics #35).

Going to the address on the letter, Namor entered a waterfront building only to find himself overpowered by a pair of mechanical robots. The robots reported to Professor Zunbar, who intended to surgically tranfer Namor's brain in the body of Elmer, a green amphibion the professor had created. Among his character flaws, Elmer was afraid of water.

Namor narrowly escaped from the surgical table and turned Professor Zunbar over to the police. As for Elmer, the creature apparently died when a box of nitroglycerin he'd gotten hold of exploded.

Triplicate explanation points appeared at the end of several sentences of dialogue in the story, appropriately titled "Vengeance!!!"


Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Hellcatmobile

In an apparent nod to the Batmobile, Defenders #63 introduced the Hellcatmobile. But where did Hellcat get her new set of wheels?

Defenders #59 showed Hellcat pining for a red vehicle that belonged to Nighthawk (with KYLE 3 written on the back). Since Nighthawk didn't seem inclined to hand the car over to her, there might be a more creative explanation. Defenders #61 showed Hellcat practicing with the Shadow Cloak she had on loan from Devil-Slayer. Perhaps Hellcat used the Shadow Cloak to pull her own Hellcatmobile from another dimension.

This panel featuring the Hellcatmobile comes from Defenders #63.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Even More Marvel Super Heroes - 1982

To round out coverage of the Marvel Superheroes - 1982 biographies from Contest of Champions, this post reproduces the profiles of those heroes known in hindsight as Defenders for a Day. Keep in mind that, by the time of publication, Black Goliath had become the second Giant-Man, and Marvel Man had changed his name to Quasar. Also, while the profile for Tagak mentions the leopard Opar, and the profile for Falcon mentions the bird Redwing, neither of these animals accompanied the heroes as Defenders for a Day.

For good measure, I've included the profiles for Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Paladin (who, arguably weren't Defenders for a Day). Profiles for Ms. Marvel and Son of Satan link to related posts where they also appear.

CAPTAIN ULTRA
(Real name unrevealed) Would-be hero possessing flight, strength, and other powers but has a vulnerability to fire. Nationality unknown. Current whereabouts: unknown. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #177.

FALCON
(Sam Wilson, social worker) American who uses an anti-gravitic suit with wings to fly, and has a nigh-telepathic link with his falcon Redwing. Former member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA #117.

HAVOK
(Alex Summers, archaeology student) American mutant whose body generates cosmic energy that can be siphoned off into explosions. Brother to Cyclops. Occasional member of the X-Men. Current whereabouts: Rio Diablo, New Mexico. First appearance: X-MEN #58.

HERCULES
(Uses no regular alias) Olympian born man-god possessing super-strength. Son of Zeus. Former member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: Hollywood, California. First appearance: THOR ANNUAL #1.

IRON FIST
(Daniel Rand, investigator/bodygaurd) American-born trained in the martial arts in the dimension city of K'un-Lun, master of the "iron fist" technique. Currrent whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: MARVEL PREMIERE #15.

JACK OF HEARTS
(Jack Hart, student) American endowed with strange energy, enabling him to fly and shoot energy rays, and computer-analyze machinery at a glance. Current whereabouts: Earth. First appearance: DEADLY HANDS OF KING-FU #22.

PALADIN
(Real name unknown) American mercenary possessing great agility and fighting prowess. Wears a bullet-proof vest and carries a gun. Current whereabouts: New York environs. First appearance: DAREDEVIL #150.

POLARIS
(Lorna Dane) American mutant with the ability to control magnetism. Current whereabouts: Rio Diablo, New Mexico. First appearance: X-MEN #49.

QUASAR
(Wendell Vaughn, security chief) American wielding a pair of power-bands from Uranus, capable of tapping any power source and transforming that energy into solid objects or force-beams. Also enables him to fly. First appearance (as Marvel Man): CAPTAIN AMERICA #217. First appearance (as Quasar): HULK #234.

SON OF SATAN
(Daimon Hellstrom, occult expert) American whose father is an arch-demon. Possesses supernatural strength and wields a trident and rides a chariot driven by fiery horses. Occasional member of the Defenders. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #12.

STINGRAY
(Dr. Walter Newell, oceanographer) American who uses special deep-sea suit, enabling him to breathe underwater, withstand the ocean's pressure, swim with great speed, and glide throught the air for short distances. Also uses an electrical sting-blast. Current whereabouts: Hydrobase, Atlantic. First appearance: SUB-MARINER #19.

TAGAK THE LEOPARD LORD
(No other name known) Extra-dimensional humanoid with great athletic ability and fighting prowesss. Though blind, he is able to see by telepathic link to his pet leopard, Opar. Current whereabouts: his home dimension. First appearance: DAREDEVIL #72.

TORPEDO
(Brock Jones, ex-football player, ex-insurance agent, high school coach) American who wears strength-enhancing suit enabling him to fly at great speeds. Current whereabouts: Clairton, Virginia. First appearance: DAREDEVIL #126.

INACTIVE

GIANT-MAN II
(Bill Foster, physicist) Black American who could mentaly stimulate growth in height and mass up to about twenty-five feet. First appearance (as Bill Foster): AVENGERS #32. First appearance (as Black Goliath): POWER MAN #24. First appearance (as Giant-Man): MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #55. Reason for retirement: radiation poisoning weakened body.

MS. MARVEL
(Carol Danvers, ex-security agent, freelance writer) American who possessed ability to fly, super-strength, heightened reflexes, and a precognitive Seventh Sense. Former member of the Avengers. First appearance: MS. MARVEL #1. Reason for retirement: loss of powers.

NOVA
(Richard Ryder, student) American who possessed super-strength and the ability to fly. First appearance: NOVA #1. Reason for retirement: loss of powers.

PROWLER
(Hobie Brown, window washer) Black American who used various gimmicks to fight crime. First appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #78. Reason for retirement: voluntarily gave up costumed identity to devote time to civilian life.

WHITE TIGER
(Hector Ayala, student) Puerto Rican who used mystic amulets to grant heightened strength, speed, agility, and fighting ability. First appearance: DEADLY HANDS OF KING-FU #22. Reason fore retirement: loss of amulets granting power.

DECEASED

CAPTAIN MARVEL
(Mar-vell, captain in Kree militia) Alien humanoid of the Kree Empire who had superhuman strength and fighting skills, photonic powers enabling him to fly, and a zen-like "cosmic awereness" which enabled him to perceive things extransensorily. First appearance: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #12. Died from cancer in THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL graphic novel.

 
This panel from Contest of Champions #1 spotlights the three founding members of the Defenders: Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Dr. Strange.
The background features Human Torch, Thing, and Quasar (formerly Marvel Man).

Saturday, April 17, 2021

More Marvel Super Heroes - 1982

Heralded as the first limited series, Contest of Champions was also groundbreaking for its appendix of Marvel Super Heroes - 1982. Biographical entries appeared for heroes who had been active up to that point (with sections on inactive and deceased heroes). While recognizing that this material was decidedly concise, in hindsight I am surprised that the listings for Clea and Silver Surfer did not note their membership in the Defenders.

In contrast, however, I am not surprised by the other heroes who had appeared in issues of the Defenders yet weren't described as members. By and large, these characters did not regard themselves Defenders—even within the parameters of a non-team. For example, Thing and Mister Fantastic remained members of the Fantastic Four while assisting the Defenders. Even Hawkeye, who briefly considered himself one of the Defenders, did so largely to spite the Avengers.

With the exception of the Defenders for a Day (who will get their own post), here the entries for those heroes who appeared in the original series through 1982 and weren't referenced as Defenders in Contest of Champions.

BLACK KNIGHT
(Dane Whitman, physicist) American descendant of Arthurian-age champion who wields the ebony blade of his ancestor, and rides a winged horse. Last seen in Twelfth Century Britain, but is known to be back in the present. Current whereabouts: Britain. Former member of the Avengers. First appearance: AVENGERS #48.

BLACK PANTHER
(T'Challa, tribal leader of Wakanda) Jungle-born African possessing great natural strength, agility, and heightened senses. Former member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: Africa. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #52.

CAPTAIN AMERICA
(Steve Rogers, artist) Recipient of the Super-Soldier formula endowing him with great strength, agility, and stamina. Carries a shield. Member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: AVENGERS #4.

CLEA
(No other name known) Sorceress from an alien dimension with minor mystic abilities. Current whereabouts: her home dimension. First appearance; STRANGE TALES #126.

DAREDEVIL
(Matt Murdock, lawyer) Blind American with heightened senses and incredible agility and fighting prowess. Uses billy club as a weapon. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: DAREDEVIL #1.

HAWKEYE
(Clint Barton, security chief) American who has mastered the art of archery and uses various trick arrows. Occasional member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #57.

MISTER FANTASTIC
(Reed Richards, scientist/adventurer) American possessing cosmic ray-derived power of super-malleability. Able to stretch any part of his body to great lengths and mold his pliant flesh into numerous shapes. One of the great intellects of the world, he is the leader of the Fantastic Four. Husband of the Invisible Girl. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

MOONDRAGON
(Healther Douglas) American-born priestess of Titan, trained in the martial arts, telepathy, and psychokinesis. Daughter of Drax the Destroyer. Occasional member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: vicinity of the Earth. First appearance (as Madame MacEvil): IRON MAN #54. First appearance (as Moondragon): DAREDEVIL #105.

MOON KNIGHT
(Marc Spector, mercenary; alias Jake Lockley, cab driver; Steven Grant, millionaire) American possessing great natural strength and agility and mastery of martial arts. Uses crescent-darts, a truncheon, and glider-cape. Current whereabouts: New York vicinity. First appearance: WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32.

PROFESSOR X
(Charles Xavier, headmaster) American mutant with the psionic powers of telepathy and astral projection. Founder of the X-Men. Confined to a wheelchair. Current whereabouts: Salem Center, New York. First appearance: X-MEN #1.

SILVER SURFER
(Norrin Radd) Humanoid alien from Zenn-La with cosmic powers to rearrange molecules and shoot energy-blasts. Rides an idestructable flying surfboard. Former herald of Galactus. Current whereabouts: space. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #48.

SPIDER-MAN
(Peter Parker, college student/freelance photographer) American possessing super-strength, super-reflexes, incredible agility, the ability to stick to virtually any surface, and a danger-detecting "spider-sense." Uses a chemical web-shooting device enabling him to swing from the rooftops entangle persons or things, and create simple objects such as shields and spheres. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #15.

THING
(Benjamin Grimm, adventurer) American possessing super-strength and a rock-like epidermis making him impervious to virtually all harm. Member of the Fantastic Four. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

WASP
(Janet Van Dyne, heiress) American with the ability to shrink to insect-size and fly by means of surgically-implanted membrane-wings. Shoots a bio-electric "wasp's sting." Member of the Avengers. Ex-wife of Henry Pym (Yellowjacket), who concocted her powers. Current whereabouts: New York City. First appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #44.

WONDER MAN
(Simon Williams, ex-industialist, aspiring actor) American possessing enormous strength and near-invulnerability. The chemical processes of his metabolism have been replaced by some strange form of energy. Former member of the Avengers. Current whereabouts: Hollywood, California. First appearance: AVENGERS #8.

INACTIVE

GHOST RIDER
(Johnny Blaze, motorcycle stunt rider) American who through sorcery became the host-body for a blazing skeletal demon who is abile to create objects out of mystic flame, project soul-scalding Hellfire, and is super-strong and nearly impervious to harm. First appearance MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5. Reason for retirement: Blaze is no longer able to control the demon and force him to use his powers for good.

MS. MARVEL
(Carol Danvers, ex-security agent, freelance writer) American who possessed ability to fly, super-strength, heightened reflexes, and a precognitive Seventh Sense. Former member of the Avengers. First appearance: MS. MARVEL #1. Reason for retirement: loss of powers.

YELLOWJACKET
(Henry Pym, biochemist) American who invented serum enabling him to reduce to insect-size. Used bioelectric "stings." Former husband to Janet Van Dyne (Wasp). First appearance (as Dr. Pym): TALES TO ASTONISH #27. First appearance (as Ant-Man): TALES TO ASTONISH #35. First appearance (as Giant-Man): TALES TO ASTONISH #49. First appearance (as Goliath): AVENGERS #28. First appearance (as Yellowjacket): AVENGERS #59. Reason for retirement: began criminal career.

DECEASED

OMEGA THE UNKNOWN
(Real name unknown) A humanoid "organic robot" from an unspecified planet trained to be a perfect warrior. Possessed super-strength, enabling him to leap long distances, etc. Had empathic link with another organic robot, James-Michael Starling. First appearance OMEGA #1. Died from a gunshot wound in OMEGA #10.

 
Contest of Champions featured a list of Super Heroes of Other Worlds, Other Times included Prester John (pictured here in Defenders #11), as well as members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Squadron Supreme.
Another section listed Quasi Heroes, including Alpha the Ultimate Mutant, Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, Nick Fury, and Rick Jones.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Clea, the Mystic Maiden!

Defenders #53 included a back-up story that introduced Nicodemus, an ambitious villain with advanced technology and a powerful incantation to steal the magical energy of others. His longterm goal was to overpower Dr. Strange and claim the title of Sorcerer-King!

For his first target, Nicodemus ambushed Clea. But when Clean found herself mystically drained, she turned the tables on Nicodemus by knocking him out with her fist. The five-page tale gave Clea a rare chance to shine.

As for what happened next, Dr. Strange would confiscate Nicodemus' ancient tome, dismantle his machinery, and wipe his mind of any memories of what he had done. When the power-hungry villain returned just the same, Dr. Strange defeated him (Marvel Fanfare #5).

Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 53. Nov. 1977. "Clea, the Mystic Maiden!" Naomi Basner (script), Sandy Plunkett (pencils), Tony Salmons (inks), Joe Rosen (letters), Marie Severin (colors), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Defenders #54 included a back-up tale titled Fury Times 5! Additional back-up stories might have worked well given the non-team format of the team.

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