Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Daring Pin-Up

This pin-up of the Daring Defenders comes from Rampage #8 (Dec. 7, 1977). That issue of the weekly U.K. magazine reprinted the story from Defenders #7, Hawkeye's introduction to the non-team.

Pictured clockwise: Hulk, Valkyrie, Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Hawkeye.

Monday, December 4, 2023


Defenders #89 established that the early Patsy Walker comics were actually fictionalized accounts of the heroine's teenage years before she became Hellcat. That metatext was previously referenced in Patsy and Hedy #78.

Tired of being portrayed in a negative light, Hedy Wolfe took a train to New York City to complain to the creative team responsible for Patsy and Hedy Magazine. Unless changes took place, Hedy said, her father would buy the publication and fire them. In response to that threat, the following issue depicted Hedy as kind and understanding while Patsy came across as petty and jealous. The plan backfired, however. Hedy's friends described the new story as an unbelievable satire and laughed at her expense. All the more infuriated, Hedy demanded that the magazine go back to portraying her as they originally had.

This illustration from Patsy and Hedy #78 (Oct. 1961) shows a comic book within the pages of the comic book.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Moonga of Mars

When friends suggested seeing a monster movie, Patsy Walker shot down the idea. In Patsy's opinion, monsters were just laughable. As a practical joke, Buzz Baxter rented a costume to scare Patsy by introducing himself as Moonga the Martian (Patsy and Hedy #76). Even as a prank, the sight of an extraterrestrial was extraordinary. Although monster comics were commonplace at the time, Patsy Walker was firmly situated in the genre of teen romance/comedy.

This panel comes from Patsy and Hedy #76 (June 1961).

Friday, November 24, 2023

Arrows and Alignments

Robin Hood was an inspiration for many a comic book archer, such as Green Arrow, Hawkeye and Golden Archer. Given my many posts over the years about the alignment system from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I was curious how the game assessed this folk hero.

An article from Dragon #55 (Nov. 1981) described Robin Hood as Chaotic Good, citing his love of total freedom and his hatred of injustice. That wasn't the last word, however. An article from Dragon #63 (July 1982) noted that bandits in the tradition of Robin Hood have an alignment of Neutral Good. This inconsistent take on Robin Hood, or characters like him, shows the room for interpretation within the nine alignments from AD&D.

The story of Robin Hood appeared in Marvel Classics Comics #34 (Oct. 1978).

Friday, November 17, 2023

Buzz Baxter: Public Enemy #1

Back in their days as high school sweethearts, Patsy Walker and Buzz Baxter were at odds. After warning Buzz about being too quick to lose his temper, Patsy became all the more concerned when Buzz refused to appear in court to pay a fine on a traffic ticket (Patsy Walker #42).

Patsy: Buzz, I'm afraid this is far more serious than you think! It could ruin your future … One thing leads to another and before you know it you're Public Enemy Number One!

As things turned out, Buzz had received a phony traffic ticket as a practical joke, so he wasn't in any real trouble with the law—at least not until years later when he became the supervillain Mad-Dog and Patsy became the crimefighter Hellcat.

Buzz Baxter worries about becoming a criminal in this panel from Patsy Walker #42 (Sept. 1952).

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Cat Costume

Patsy Walker eventually became a superhero when she found the costume worn by the original Cat. Coincidentally, exposition on the cover of Patsy and Hedy #47 (Nov. 1956) noted that teenage Patsy had her eye on a cat costume for a masquerade party. Although that situation didn't appear as a story inside the comic book, the cover provides some subtext (albeit unintentional) for Patsy's adult alias as Hellcat.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

On a Lark

Lady Lark was among the most tragic members of the Squadron Supreme. As revealed in the Squadron Supreme limited series, Linda Lewis had been a successful recording artist until an accident damaged her vocal cords. Following an operation, new vocal cords gave her superhuman sonic powers. As a drawback, however, she could no longer sing (Squadron Supreme #1, #4). In some respects, Lady Lark's music career had parallels to that of Dazzler, a singer whose mutant powers over light and sound propelled her into the role of reluctant superhero.

Like other early members of the Squadron Supreme, Lady Lark had a counterpart in the Justice League of America—specifically, Black Canary, with her ear-piercing "canary cry." On top of that, Lady Lark's on-again, off-again relationship with teammate Golden Archer was an homage to Black Canary's romantic pairing with Green Arrow in DC Comics.

This image of Lady Lark comes from Avengers #147 (May 1976). Since her powers often appeared as music notes, singing may have been how Lady Lark activated her superhuman abilities.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Love Triangulation

A complicated love triangle developed in the "Patsy Walker" story from Miss America #44 (March 1952). Patsy was upset that boyfriend Buzz Baxter was more interested in reading a Kid Colt comic book than paying attention to her. At Patsy's prompting, Buzz put aside the comic book only to become equally preoccupied with westerns on TV and film.

Buzz then took Patsy on a date to the rodeo to see Tex Dallas, a cowboy he admired. After the show, Tex coerced Buzz into riding a horse called "Back-Buster"; the ornery animal immediately threw Buzz to the ground! Buzz went home with a sore back while Tex invited Patsy out dancing—leaving Buzz feeling bitter and betrayed by his hero.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Heavenly Hair Styles

Before Patsy Walker took to wearing a costume as Hellcat, her romance comics regularly included pages with her modeling various clothing fashions or hair styles. The same was true for Patsy's friend and rival Hedy Wolfe. This page of "Patsy's Heavenly Hair Styles" comes from Patsy and Hedy #97 (Dec. 1964).

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Lost Signs

When the Defenders battled the Zodiac, not all twelve signs were there. Leading the cadre was Scorpio, brother of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. The rest of the Zodiac were Life Model Decoys that Scorpio designed using S.H.I.E.L.D. technology. But activating these androids prematurely caused three of them to malfunction: Capricorn, Pisces and Virgo. I am uncertain of the astrological implications of losing these particular signs, but Scorpio had designated Virgo—the only female in the group—as his love interest. The heartbroken criminal killed himself (Defenders #50).

Two of the androids, Sagittarius and Libra, would return to lead other supervillains pretending to be Defenders for a Day.

This image of Scorpio (Jake Fury) comes from Defenders #50.

Friday, September 1, 2023

What's Up, Doc?

The title Doctor can be confusing in comic books. Whereas Dr. Strange and Dr. Druid both earned medical degrees (Strange was a surgeon and Druid a psychiatrist), that wasn't a given. In the case of Dr. Spectrum of the Squadron Supreme, the hero's alter ego Joseph Ledger was an astronaut with no suggestion that he held the title Doctor out of costume.

In contrast, the Squadron's enemies in the Institute of Evil included Dr. Decibel (a physician). Additionally, the secret identity of Dr. Spectrum from the Squadron Sinister was Dr. Obatu (Iron Man #63), revealed slightly before his first battle against the non-team (Defenders #13-14).

Under the entry for the Squadron Supreme, the original edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe listed Dr. Spectrum's profession as teacher.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Leadership Leanings

Before he began vying to lead the Defenders, Beast gained some practical experience in X-Men #137. During a showdown against the Imperial Guard, the mutant heroes split into two teams, with Beast leading Colossus, Storm and Wolverine. While Beast had demonstrated his ingenuity on plenty of occasions, this may have been his first time acting as a group leader.

Introduced in X-Men #107, the initial Imperial Guard consisted of thinly veiled stand-ins for the Legion of Superheroes from DC Comics. Not until #137 did the Imperial Guard add a handful of unique members.

This panel from X-Men #137 (Sept. 1980) shows the mutants' first encounter with Warstar, a symbiotic addition to the Imperial Guard.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Cat out of Hell

Hellcat #4, from the character's 2023 limited series, included a callback to Defenders #94 (April 1981). During the non-team's crusade against the Six-Fingered Hand, the demon Avarrish briefly transformed Hellcat into a devil-like monster. That frightful version of Hellcat stood in contrast to the happy-go-lucky veneer she long projected as Patsy Walker.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Orrgo the Unconquerable

Defenders #9-10 (Volume 2) featured the powerful extraterrestrial named Orrgo the Unconquerable! After briefly siding with the Headmen, however, Orrgo decided to depart from Earth. Orrgo promised that no one from his planet would return until humanity was destroyed by others—or had destroyed itself.

A version of Orrgo originally appeared in Strange Tales #90 (Nov. 1961). In that fateful tale, Orrgo exhibited vast control over mind and matter, eventually placing humankind in a mental trance. But Orrgo's actions had unintended consequences. A circus gorilla broke out of his cage after his hypnotized master neglected to feed him. Sensing that Orrgo was somehow responsible for the predicament, the enraged ape slew the extraterrestrial as he slept.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Wonder Twin

It's easy to draw comparisons between Sub-Mariner and Aquaman from DC Comics. But Sub-Mariner had another counterpart among the Super Friends. With pointed ears and black hair, Zan of the Wonder Twins physically resembled the Sub-Mariner.

Zan and sister Jayna made their debut in 1977 on The All-New Super Friends Hour. The two teens from the planet Exxor joined the ranks of Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Robin. While Jayna could take the shape of animals, Zan could become various forms of water, including steam and ice objects. The aquatic nature of his powers strengthened Zan's similarities to Sub-Mariner. In terms of personality, however, the even-keeled Zan had little in common with the boastful Prince of Atlantis.

Thursday, June 15, 2023


When the Defenders faced the villain Mandrill, he led an army of women called the Fem-Force (Defenders #90-91). Mandrill's first female ally, however, was Nekra. Born with chalk-white skin and fangs, Nekra's vampire-like appearance made her an outcast since childhood. As a mutant power, Nekra gained invulnerability and superhuman strength when she felt hate—similar to the way the Hulk became more powerful when angry.

Soon after splitting from Mandrill, Nekra found an enemy in Spider-Woman. In contrast to Mandrill, whose mutant pheromones could allure women, Spider-Woman produced alarm pheromones that made others ill at ease. She received this medical diagnosis—a secret side effect of her spider powers—in her civilian identity as Jessica Drew. Ironically, Spider-Woman's pheromones had an inverse effect on Nekra, inducing in Nekra a sense of trust, which reminded her of Mandrill, which thereby intensified her hatred (Spider-Woman #16).

Nekra's original entry from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe noted that she could lift (press) about 10 tons at peak strength.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Sunken Continents

During the early years of the Silver Age, Atlas/Marvel Comics published a variety of stories about Atlantis. For instance, Journey into Mystery #63 (Dec. 1960) introduced Goliath, who came from the sunken continent to conquer land-dwellers. But Goliath soon retreated to Atlantis after humans tricked him into thinking that enormous extraterrestrials were invading Earth's surface.

Other creative tales of Atlantis appeared in the issues below:

The return of Golden Age hero Sub-Mariner in Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962) codified his Atlantean heritage within Marvel Comics. Adjusting for continuity a decade later, Where Monsters Dwell #10 (July 1971) retold the story of the aquatic goliath from Journey into Mystery #63, this time changing the sunken continent to Mu and renaming the would-be conquerer Gigantus (thereby avoiding confusion with the superhero Goliath).


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

What Worried Wertham?

For the fourth consecutive year, I decided to reread and blog about Seduction of the Innocent, Fredric Wertham's influential tome attacking the comic book industry. One argument that I previously overlooked was Wertham's belief that the abundance of illustrations within comic books stifled the imagination, as evidenced by children reproducing graphic images from comic books in their own drawings.

In Wertham's opinion as a psychiatrist, comic books lacked the constructive escapism often found in fairy tales. He cited reports of boys hurting themselves by leaping from high places while pretending to be superheroes. He added that even comic books extolling the dangers of drug addiction invariably taught children how to use heroin and other narcotics. Such hazards, according to Wertham, were compounded because comic books were themselves habit-forming. At the time of his writing in 1954, approximately 90 million comic books sold each month in the United States.

While conceding that other factors might also contribute to juvenile delinquency, Wertham cautioned adults against underestimating the negative impact of comics. The following excerpt from Seduction of the Innocent comes from the closing paragraph of Chapter II:


Once in the waiting room of the Clinic I saw a little boy crouched over a comic book, oblivious to everything around him. In passing I could see the title of this story he was reading. Big capitals spelled out T A R Z A N. Surely, I thought, the adventures of Tarzan are harmless enough for juveniles of any age. But I was misled, as many parents no doubt are. … Tarzan was not the whole title of the story I had seen the boy in the waiting room reading. There was a subtitle "The Wyoming Killer" and two other headings, "From Police Files" and "A True Crime Story." The story was not about Tarzan, but about a hero who robbed a bank and shot five men to death.

Over the past century, several companies did publish comic books based on the Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Marvel's monthly Tarzan series ran 1977-79.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Fantastic Finances

Power Man and Iron Fist were two of the first superheroes to befriend Rom the Spaceknight, who came to Earth to defeat the shapechanging Dire Wraiths. Seeking further assistance, the trio journeyed to the Baxter Building, headquarters of the Fantastic Four. But how could they be certain that the Fantastic Four weren't Dire Wraiths in disguise?

As a test, Mr. Fantastic would have to recall how much Power Man was paid during his time filling in as a member of the Fantastic Four. A text box within the issue confirmed that Mr. Fantastic answered correctly but didn't print the dollar amount for readers to see (Rom #23). As much as I would have liked to have learned the answer, that information was apparently too sensitive to publish.

Rom. Vol. 1. No. 23. October 1981. "The Thing From Outer Space!" Bill Mantlo & Sal Buscema (writer - storytellers - artist), Joe Sinnott (finisher), Rosen & Zalme (letters), Ben Sean (colors), Al Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (prime editor).

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Redstone the Redeemer

On the parallel Earth of the Squadron Supreme, Nighthawk so objected to the Utopia Program implemented by his former teammates that he organized a covert group of heroes to infiltrate and overthrow the Squadron. One of these new recruits was Mr. Redstone—known simply as Redstone while in costume (Squadron Supreme #9). When Nighthawk's Redeemers turned against the Squadron, Redstone's superhuman strength proved well-matched against Hyperion.

As for his origin story, Redstone revealed little about his background aside from mentioning that he grew up on a reservation (#12). That biographical detail leads me to wonder whether the name Redstone was intended to allude to the character's Native American heritage. Such racial coding in Marvel Comics had been evident with the Cheyenne hero Red Wolf, especially during his early adventures set during the Old West.

This panel of Redstone, a defeated Hyperion, and Nighthawk comes from Squadron Supreme #12 (Aug. 1986).

Friday, May 19, 2023

Chaotic Evil: Brain-Child

The Squadron Supreme's homeworld was on the brink of destruction. Arnold Sutton, a superhuman ten-year-old dubbed Brain-Child, invented a device that would cause the sun to go super-nova (Avengers #86). Such nihilistic plans had all the trappings of Chaotic Evil from the nine-alignment system of Dungeons & Dragons.

During a team-up with the Avengers, Dr. Spectrum of the Squadron ultimately saved the day by using his Power Prism to change Arnold into an ordinary boy—with no memory of his previous intentions to destroy the world. We can only speculate whether this change to the brain had a lasting effect on Arnold's alignment.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Lawful Neutral: Super-Editor

As a lark during Assistant Editor's Month, New Defenders #127 opened with a two-page story featuring assistant editor Ann Nocenti as Super-Editor of Marvel Comics. After assuming her new role, Nocenti threatened to fire any freelancers who did not meet their deadlines and envisioned all books coming out on time. Though presented ironically, this no-nonsense formula for greatness strictly followed the Lawful Neutral alignment from Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Marie Severin drew this caricature of assistant editor Ann Nocenti from New Defenders #127 (January 1984).

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Whizzer's Rogues

The Flash accrued one of the most creative rogues' galleries in DC Comics. But a similar observation could not be made of Whizzer, the Squadron Supreme's counterpart to the Flash. Squadron Supreme #8 showed Whizzer defeat two old foes named Rustler and Bollix. The outlaw duo seemed to have no super powers aside from their newly acquired force field belts (invented by Squadron member Tom Thumb). In contrast, Tom Thumb's obituary would report how he had apprehended scores of bizarre criminals, such as the Iron Moth (#10). I would have liked to have learned about more of these imaginative enemies.

This panel comes from Squadron Supreme #8 (April 1986).

Friday, May 12, 2023

The Monastic Moondragon

With her mental discipline and open-hand fighting style, Moondragon more or less met the criteria for a Monk from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. That particular character class was all the more fitting given that she was trained by monks on Saturn's moon Titan. Moondragon's abilities also included an array of psionics, which were available in AD&D to a small percentage of humans with exceptional intelligence, wisdom or charisma—regardless of character class.

This image of Moondragon comes from New Defenders #127 (Jan. 1984).

Thursday, May 11, 2023

An Advanced Assassin

The Defenders faced their share of serial killers, but one member of the non-team had the makings of an Assassin from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Positioned in the game as a Thief subclass, an Assassin could brandish any weapon and become a master of disguise. The stealthy hero Devil-Slayer fit that description. For a twist on the AD&D requirement that Assassins must be evil in alignment, Devil-Slayer renounced the demonic cult that furnished the magical Shadow Cloak accentuating his abilities.

This panel comes from Devil-Slayer's debut in Marvel Spotlight #33.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Spellbook: Hypnotism

Following a string of posts comparing the sorcery of Dr. Strange to Magic-User spells from Dungeons & Dragons, here is example featuring Dr. Druid. Originally introduced as Dr. Droom, one of the character's earliest abilities closely matched the 1st Level spell Hypnotism that would become available to Illusionists (a subclass of Magic-Users) in Advanced D&D. After falling under this spell, a hypnotized subject would become susceptible to a verbal suggestion of the spellcaster.

This panel of Dr. Druid hypnotizing the extraterrestrial Zamu comes from Weird Wonder Tales #20 (Jan. 1977), reprinting a Dr. Droom tale from Amazing Adventures #3 (Aug. 1961).

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Spellbook: Shield

During his early adventures, Dr. Strange began defending himself with a shield of mystic energy. The evocation closely resembled the 1st Level spell Shield that would appear in the rules for Dungeons & Dragons. Of course, not all spells wielded by Dr. Strange would have counterparts in D&D, but it is interesting taking note of the similarities that do occur.

This panel from Strange Tales #144 (May 1966) shows Dr. Strange mystically shielding himself from the magician Tazza.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Spellbook: Mirror Image

While dueling Loki in Strange Tales #123, Dr. Strange sought to fool his opponent by creating five illusionary images of himself. The magical effect closely paralleled the 2nd Level spell Mirror Image that would later appear in Dungeons & Dragons. One important distinction, however, was that Mirror Image could create only 1 to 4 illusionary selves. Loki countered by making all of the illusionary images of Dr. Strange disappear—casting the equivalent of Dispell Magic, the 3rd Level spell from D&D.

These panels first appeared in Strange Tales #123 (Aug. 1964).

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Spellbook: Levitate

Over the course of this blog, I've compared several members of the Defenders to early character classes or monsters from Dungeons & Dragons, describing Dr. Strange as a Magic-User. This is the first of several posts to compare some of the spells cast by Dr. Strange to spells that would become available to Magic-Users within the game.

Strange Tales #123 showed Dr. Strange practicing the art of levitation, which approximates the 2nd Level spell Levitate from early D&D rulebooks. This was not a spell that Dr. Strange would cast often, however, as he would soon obtain his signature Cloak of Levitation (#127).

This image first appeared in Strange Tales #123 (Aug. 1964).

Friday, April 21, 2023

Philip K. Defender

Science-fiction authors Philip K. Dick and Ursula LeGuin were the inspirations for two members of the psychic Chorus that acquired mental control of Over-Mind (Defenders #117). Coincidentally, Philip K. Dick also wrote a short story called "The Defenders." Following a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, humans in that story live underground to stay safe from radiation. Robots, meanwhile, remain on the surface for defensive purposes. The reality of the situation, however, is more insidious than the characters initially believe.

"The Defenders" first appeared in the pages of Galaxy Science Fiction (January 1953).

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Chaotic Neutral: Man-Thing

A previous post on this blog compared Man-Thing to a Shambling Mound, a plant monster from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Under the game's nine-alignment system, a Shambling Mound was Neutral. But would that description hold true for Man-Thing?

A failed scientific experiment transformed Ted Sallis into the mammoth mound of vegetation known as Man-Thing. Although Sallis lost most of his intelligence as Man-Thing, he acquired a form of empathy that made him receptive to the emotions of others. Man-Thing's disposition could vacillate from curious to isolationistic, from tranquil to irate. Although he might accompany superheroes, this often resulted from happenstance. Given his capricious nature, Man-Thing might be better understood as Chaotic Neutral.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Man-Thing's original entry from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe appears below.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Neutral Good: Rick Jones

On a bet, young Rick Jones snuck past guards to drive into an off-limits military test area (Incredible Hulk #1). From this first impression, Rick's disregard for authority would seem Chaotic Neutral under the nine-alignment system of Dungeons & Dragons. But after Dr. Bruce Banner risked his life to shield Rick from a gamma bomb, the teenager had a change of heart. Rick would befriend Dr. Banner during his initial transformations into the Hulk.

In the years that followed, Rick would become a serial sidekick, training with Captain America and assisting the Avengers, teaming up with Captain Mar-vell, and then becoming an ally to Rom the Spacekight. Through this heroic adaptability, Rick Jones' true character would prove to be Neutral Good.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
This panel of Bruce Banner warning Rick Jones comes from The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962).

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Daimon's Deck

Comic book references to the Tarot are often cursory. Not so for Daimon Hellstrom, who received a detailed reading from Madame Swabada in Marvel Spotlight #20. From the Tarot deck, the gypsy selected the Knight of Swords as Daimon's signifier, then proceeded to lay out cards according to the Keltic method of divination. The full reading included the following cards: Four, Nine and Ten of Swords; Five of Pentacles; Six of Cups (reversed); Seven of Wands; the Fool; the Tower; the Moon, crossed by the Devil. Daimon became hot-headed when Madame Swabada foretold that he would endure persistent grief and heartache. Imagery from the Tarot reading would haunt Daimon in #21-22.

This panel comes from Marvel Spotlight #20 (Feb. 1975).

Friday, March 31, 2023

Waxing Poetic

The opening page of New Defenders #150 included the first stanza of Percy Bysshe Shelley's "To the Moon." Written in the early nineteenth century, the short poem set the tone for the heroes' outer space encounter with the Star-Thief. The full poem appears below.


To the Moon

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object like its constancy?

Thou chosen sister of the Spirit,
That gazes on thee till in thee it pities …

The illustration above comes from New Defenders $150 (Dec. 1985).

Monday, March 27, 2023

Warren's Wardrobe

Warren Worthington III redesigned his costume a handful of times during his heroic career as Angel. Of all his costumes, my favorite was the red-and-white costume with a halo insignia that he began wearing in Champions #8. That costume replaced the open-chested, yellow-and-red costume introduced in Champions #1. The red-and-white costume was in fact a variation of a blue-and-white costume that he began wearing as one of the original X-Men (replacing a costume with suspenders first seen in X-Men #39). After the Champions disbanded, Warren sometimes returned to the blue-and-white costume, but he stayed with the red-and-white version throughout his time with the New Defenders. Because of his wings, Warren was identifiable as the Angel no matter which uniform he wore.

These panesl come from Champions $8 (Oct. 1976).

Sunday, March 19, 2023


The New Defenders almost encountered the Collector in Marvel Team-Up Annual #7 (1984). In that issue, the supervillain wanted to expand his collection of extraterrestrials—and he found several prospects residing on Earth. Under consideration were Warlock of the New Mutants and Cloud of the New Defenders. The Collector passed them both up, however, turning his attention instead to Spider-Man (sporting a symbiotic alien costume from Secret Wars) and Marrina of Alpha Flight (and from the Plodex homeworld). Though easy to overlook, the panel featuring Cloud provided an important piece of foreshadowing for the New Defenders, as Cloud's extraterrestrial origin story had yet to be revealed.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Lawful Evil: Sentinels

Programmed to regard all mutants as a threat to humanity, the Sentinels became persistent adversaries of the heroic X-Men. The giant robots operated largely in tandem while carrying out their objective to eliminate mutantkind. By following their own logic, the Sentinels would classify as Lawful Evil within the alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
Giant-Size X-Men #2 (1975) reprinted the three-part story from X-Men #57-59, which pitted the Sentinels against "the most unusal fighting team of all time!"

Monday, February 6, 2023

Completing a Collection

A puzzle in Fun and Games Magazine #12 invited readers to search for comic books missing from a dealer's collection. I've read several of the comic books listed in the puzzle and happen to have two of them in my own collection: Defenders #39 and The Cat #4, the character's final appearance before becoming Tigra.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Lawful Good: Jack Norriss

Jack Norriss was stubborn and obstinate when he met the Defenders. At first, he could not accept that Valkyrie was independent from his wife, Barbara. He also took time to warm up to the unconventional non-team. Dedicated to fighting crime, however, he assisted the Defenders on occasion and became an agent of S.H.I.E.l.D. Given his combination of personal qualities, the hard-minded Jack Norris would fall under the Lawful Good alignment from Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  
This image of Jack Norriss comes from Defenders #87, when he testified before the mysterious Tribunal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Chaotic Good: Omega the Unknown

Cancelled after ten issues, Omega the Unknown found closure in Defenders #76-77. During his short career, the costumed hero had a metaphysical connection to twelve-year-old James-Michael Starlin. While the cerebral Starlin faced obstacles at school, Omega battled superpowered foes—usually without uttering a word. In their own way, both characters prioritized the well-being of others while remaining enigmatic and even naïve at times. Taking into account their erratic nature, the linked duo upheld the principles of Chaotic Good under the nine-alignment system of Dungeons & Dragons.

  Lawful Good    Neutral Good    Chaotic Good  
  Lawful Neutral    True Neutral    Chaotic Neutral  
  Lawful Evil    Neutral Evil    Chaotic Evil  

Friday, January 27, 2023

Black Goliath and the Champions

The letters page of Champions #6 noted that Black Goliath was originally considered for membership in the Los Angeles team. Instead, the hero with the power to grow 15-feet-tall received his own solo series, which ran for five issues. Meanwhile, Hercules became the Champions' resident strongman. Although Black Goliath would never join the Champions, a guest appearance in #11 established that he had designed the team's sky-car.

Oddly enough, Black Goliath #3 introduced the supervillain Vulcan. In spite of his name, the criminal appeared to have no connection to the Roman god Vulcan (a.k.a. Hephaestus to the Greeks) or the Olympians in general.


Saturday, January 7, 2023

Marvel Subscriber's Club

One of my favorite ads for Marvel Comics was the subscription page that appeared in issues with cover dates of Nov. 1981, Dec. 1981, and Jan. 1982 (Defenders #101, #102, #103). While the titles listed on the subscription form included science fiction, jungle adventure, and sword and sorcery themes, the illustration accompanying the ad was a superhero sight gag reminiscent of the humor magazines that Marvel would publish at various points.

Pictured in the ad, a tiny Ant-Man tries to outrun the Hulk, who has just stepped on Iron Man. Meanwhile, Giant-Man busts through the roof of the heroes' comedically overcrowded clubhouse. Several other characters are only partially visible yet still recognizable by their claws, tail, winged ankles, or other identifiable traits.