- Dec 22, 2017
- Reaction score
I have the soft spot of the orignal Defenders. There was a special chemistry between Dr Strange, Hulk, Namor and occasionally the Silver Surfer. something about the world's most powerful outcasts and weirdos joining up to secretly save the world that just works. This chemistry even tranlasted to the animated tribute to the Defenders in Justice League series, with Aquaman, Grundy and Dr Fate. Having stumbled across my copy of Essential Denders (the black and white reprints from a few years) I figured this could use re-read. I figured I could share my impressions as I went along. I probably won't go in too much detail.
The first few stories in the collection are preludes, stories in other books that set the seeds for how the Defender came to be.
DR STRANGE #183
This is a standalone Dr Strange adventure with a bit of gothic theme, with no obivious link to the Defender other than in introduced the Undying Ones. Strange is called to help an old friend only to discover his household is possessed by demons. What is striking here is the art of Gene Colan. It's amazing. I remember reading somewhere how Stan Lee tried to steer most of his artists towards a simlar Kirby influnced house style, exemplifed by the likes of John Buscema. But when it came to Colan, he just left him do his own thing.
One curious fact, this set at the time when suddenly Dr Strange had a secert identity of Stephen Sanders. And when he donned the Dr Strange costume he looked a bit like Silver Surfer with a cape. I'd forgotten entirely about that. I suspect Marvel wishes we all forgot about that (right after we forgot about Mike Murdock).
This one is a bit of a mess. A Dr Strange that looks like Silver Surfer summon a Sub-Marnier who can't breathe water to face the Undying Ones. There is a lot of exposition on the Undying Ones, but the plot itself doesn't really make sense at the art of Marie Severin is a far cry from Gene Colan. What saves this issue is the surprise ending. Strange scacrifices himself and allows himself to be stranded in a demon dimension to allow Namor to escape, which goes further than your average superhero team up usually goes
Banner is captured by some pretty amatuerish looking cultists. But they have a big plan, send Hulk to another demon dimension to defeat it's guardian, the Nightcrawler (no, not the X-Man, this is the scary Nightcrawler) and in turn open the way for the Undying Ones. This is already better stuff from Roy Thomas (who penned all other adventures described above). Banner doesn't want to turn into the Hulk and fight, so the amatuers cultist turn on of their own, and shove her into the demon dimension with Hulk. Hulk fights for the girl who is called Barbara and as all fans know will become important in the near future. In the process Hulk frees Dr Strange (who was stranded here, remember?) but to make their escape it is Barbara who remains stranded this time.
It sounds pretty crazy, but makes for a good read. The art is by Herb Trimpe. Not normally a fan, but he pulls this one off.
More to come.