Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

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).