Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

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).