Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Competitiveness of Captain Ultra

Of all the heroes to call themselves Defenders, Captain Ultra was the most ironic.

The colorfully clad character made his debut in Fantastic Four #177 (Dec. 1976), when three founding members of the Frightful Four sought an additional member (filling a spot originally held by Medusa of the Inhumans). With the power of flight and superhuman strength, Captain Ultra seemed the most promising applicant under consideration. Captain Ultra lost his shot, however, when he fainted at the sight of a lit cigarette. Given his weakness to fire, Captain Ultra would have been a liability whenever the Frightful Four battled the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four.

Given his original aspirations, Captain Ultra might have joined with the many costumed criminals from Defenders #63-64 who posed as members of the non-team. Instead, he became a superhero as one of the Defenders for a Day.

Thor #336 (Oct. 1983) found Captain Ultra in Chicago, hoping to make a name for himself away from the more prominent heroes of New York City.

In this panel from Fantastic Four #177, Captain Ultra meets Wizard, Sandman, and Trapster of the Frightful Four.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Reading with White Tiger

Of all the Defenders for a Day, White Tiger had the most recognizable dialogue, as the hero often incorporated Spanish words into his speech. This pattern was similar to the way the villain Batroc used French, as evidenced when the characters fought one another in Defenders #63-64.

When White Tiger appeared in Spidey Super Stories, his use of Spanish served as an educational tool, with footnotes translating each Spanish word into English. This editorial decision was in keeping with the "Easy Reader" intentions for the series.

Footnotes in Spidey Super Stories #57 (March 1982) told young readers that señor was Spanish for mister and amigo was Spanish for friend.

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Avenging Angel

Warren Worthington III faced a crisis of conscience during a shocking chain of events that could put Hamlet to shame. At home visiting his parents, Warren accepted an invitation to go out on a date that evening. While out on the town with his date, Warren heard over the radio that two masked men had just murdered his father. In his costumed guise as Angel, Warren tracked down the killers and learned they were working for a criminal known as the Dazzler (Ka-Zar #2-3). After capturing Warren and his date, Dazzler revealed himself to be none other than Warren's uncle Burt (Marvel Tales #30). The family drama aside, Warren felt torn about his role as a crimefighter, as so much of humanity still regarded mutants like himself as freaks.

Even though Warren's romantic interest during this three-party story was named Candy, the following evidence suggests this was not Candy Southern, an old flame from X-Men #31 who would become leader of the New Defenders.

  1. Whereas Candy Southern consistently had black hair, the Candy introduced in Ka-Zar #2 had red hair.
  2. Looking at a picture of redheaded Candy, Warren exclaimed that their relationship was over, as Warren held her indirectly responsible for his father's death (Ka-Zar #3). In contrast, black-haired Candy Southern returned as Warren's romantic interest in Incredible Hulk #7.
  3. Candy's last name went unstated in Ka-Zar #2-3. Then, in Marvel Tales #30, Dazzler referred to the redhead as Candy Summers.

Granted, one could explain away the above inconsistencies by arguing instead that

  1. Candy Southern simply dyed her hair red prior to Ka-Zar #2 and later changed it back,
  2. Warren no longer felt reminded of his father's death when he saw Candy with dark hair, and
  3. Dazzler misspoke, confusing Candy's last name with the last name of Warren's classmate Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops).

In a skewed take on the Oedipal complex, Warren's interest in Candy Southern began to wane as he romantically pursued the mutant hero Dazzler (no relation to Warren's uncle). Warren's feelings went unrequited, however, and he returned to dating Candy Southern. As for Dazzler, she would similarly turn down romantic advances from Hank McCoy during the Beauty and the Beast limited series.

This image comes from Marvel Tales #30 (April 1971).

Friday, October 8, 2021


As much as I might like having a choice of covers when buying comics, some variant covers are misleading. For example, this cover of Defenders #3 (December 2021) displayed Namor, who had no connection to the story. Told from the perspective of Betty Ross, the Harpy, the issue brought the latest band of Defenders back before science: to a time of unrefined magic.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Return of the Nautilus!

Like a number of other issues during the run of the series, Sub-Mariner #53 (Sept. 1972) drew upon the character's history. While the main story teamed the Prince of Atlantis with Sunfire, a relatively new hero at the time, a back-up feature reprinted a Sub-Mariner tale from the 1950s.

In that back-up story, an occult magician stole a painting from the Fictional Art Section of the Manhattan Historical Museum. The stolen painting pictured the Nautilus submarine from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Making matters worse, a ghostly submarine began appearing out of nowhere and attacking naval vessels. Sub-Mariner's investigation led him to a ramshackle shanty, where he found the magician dead from heart failure. The villain's hand clutched the stolen painting … with the image of the Nautilus inexplicably absent.

Before and after renditions of the painting appear below.