The Transparent Fox:
Issue(s): Defenders #112, Defenders #113, Defenders #114, Defenders #115
Dr. Strange's astral projection appears before the Defenders who are currently on Earth. This includes the Silver Surfer as well as the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, plus the regular crew of Beast, Valkyrie, and Gargoyle.
Strange summons them all to the dimension that he, Bruce Banner, Hellstorm, and Namor are currently in with the 'new' Nighthawk. There's a Hyperion there are well. Valkyrie assumes it's the Squadron Sinister version, but Beast, Scarlet Witch, and Vision assume (correctly, although it's not clear to me how) that he's the Squadron Supreme version and that they're in that Squadron's alternate dimension which the Avengers visited in the past.
The story is that after the resignation of President Rockerfeller after the Avengers' Serpent Crown story, the citizens of this dimension's United States elected this dimension's Kyle Richmond president. But soon afterward, the Overmind arrived, corrupted Kyle, and began taking over the world. The Squadron Supreme tried to stop them, but failed.
The rest of the Squadron was corrupted by the Overmind...
...but Hyperion was able to flee. At that time the Defenders' version of Kyle Richmond (who, remember, was originally part of the Squadron Sinister), was teleported to Hyperion's side after his apparent death in Defenders #106, arriving in his new costume.
We also learn that the evil scientist August Masters, and Nighthawk's psycho/psychic girlfriend Mindy, both also assumed to died in the explosion in Defenders #106, were teleported to this dimension as well.
Masters has decided to assassinate this dimension's Kyle, and Mindy has become a being of pure psychic energy that has merged with the minds of the other psychics that Masters was trying to use to take over the real Earth.
The Defenders head out to stop the Overmind, which requires fighting the possessed Squadron Supreme.
There's a scene showing Valkyrie fighting the Wonder Woman analogue Power Princess, which implies (although it's not explicit) that the Valkyrie's restriction about fighting women has been lifted now that she's back in her true body.
Nighthawk tries to get to President Richmond, but Masters kills him before he can reach him.
From Richmond's corpse, Null the Living Darkness arises.
Null the Living Darkness had decided to partner with the Overmind, so it went to the Microverse to rescue him, but when he came back to the real world, he found out he was in the Squadron Supreme's universe instead of the one he started in. Since they were both interested in destroying universes, they didn't really care which one they were in.
There's a big psychic battle...
...that ends with Null destroyed, and the psychic consciousness of Mindy and the others occupying the Overmind's body.
Meanwhile, the assassinated body of Kyle Richmond turns out to be a doppelganger..
...and the Nighthawk in the new costume that's been running around with the Defenders - the one we thought was the 'real' Kyle Richmond - suddenly remembers that he's really the Squadron Supreme version. The 'real' Kyle has in fact been dead since #106.
The Defenders along with the Overmind (who essentially joins the team for a while) are sent back to their own dimension.
But because this plot wasn't convoluted enough, there's a problem with the dimensional transporter, and Beast, Namor, Gargoyle, and Valkyrie get stuck in a Dr. Seuss-inspired dimension for a while before finally returning home.
In an interlude, Kyle's nurse Luann Bloom is contacted by the Elf with a Gun (or possibly just another Elf) from Steve Gerber's run.
Something about the post-Gerber/David Anthony Kraft Defenders seemed to inspire writers to come up with these long, convoluted "epic" stories that are just unreadable. Tying together Null the Living Darkness, the Overmind, and the Squadron Supreme? Introducing the Squadron Supreme Nighthawk in a comic that already stars the Squadron Sinister version? Adding the Vision & the Scarlet Witch to an already overloaded team, and having them add nothing to the plot? It's just all really bad.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Avengers annual #11. Takes place before the Hulk gains Banner's intelligence in Hulk #272. Dr. Strange, Namor, and the Hulk finally return to Earth after a long dimension hopping trip that began in Defenders #106.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): show
It's a different Elf. It may be the same other Elf that appeared in the 2nd KISS Marvel Super Special.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2011 1:35 AM
maybe that was the Squadron Supreme version of the Elf With A Gun?
Posted by: Chaim Shraga | June 16, 2012 1:08 PM
I just noticed that you don't have Null the Living Darkness as a character appearing here.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | May 1, 2014 11:13 AM
Thanks, Erik. Added him. I may have been holding out on the thought that he was a Squadron Supremeverse Null but that doesn't seem to be the case.
(And very belatedly responding to Mark and Chaim's older comments, i've opted to keep all Elf appearances under a single character tag for convenience.)
Posted by: fnord12 | May 1, 2014 11:36 AM
Oh, this was such a mess. I bought these after I already had the complete Squadron Supreme maxi-series because I wanted to see how it all started. But I didn't have the earlier issues of Defenders where Nighthawk died, so it was just confusing when Mindy and Masters show up. And then to throw in not just the Overmind (who is mentioned in the maxi-series, though Null really isn't) and Null, it all just was too overwhelming.
This is the first time, I believe that we see the complete Squadron. Hyperion says "we were all there, founding fathers and new arrivals" but in the maxi-series we'll learn that Skrull was the other founder and he's not there. This actually perfectly corresponds to the JLA at the time - the JLA, unlike most Marvel groups, continued to add members and members rarely left. In fact, the only member of the JLA at this time who wasn't active was Martian Manhunter, the very member that Skrull is the analogue for.
On a separate Defenders note, it's interesting that with Strange, Namor and Hulk in the other dimension, we already have the establishment of the core of the New Defenders that won't actually take over until #125. I wonder how far ahead they decided to get rid of the three original members?
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 3, 2015 2:52 PM
If the Nighthawk who's been appearing since issue #109 is actually the Squadron Supreme version, why is the regular Nighthawk also tagged in the issues since then? Something to do with a future ret-con, or merely for convenience?
Posted by: Berend | May 3, 2015 4:37 PM
I'm not sure, Berend. The MCP list both Nighthawks as appearing in these issues, but it might be a mistake. I've kept the tag figuring it's based on a retcon related to his resurrection, but looking at the wikipedia page for Nighthawk that doesn't seem to be the case and i should probably remove the 616 version.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 3, 2015 9:15 PM
Because of the discussion of the Surfer's whereabouts, turned to this .... Read some Defenders from this era hot off the press but was definitely not impressed (ha). Not my idea of keepers, and this review reminds me why and also why my "take" on comics history is, alas, freely subjective. Even so, love seeing a systematic and responsible overview of the Marvel Universe.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 15, 2015 1:02 PM
I know from the write-up your not a big fan of this story-line fnnord so I hate to bring it back to you - but there is an issue with Null's appearance here and in Ghost Rider #71. That issue clearly takes place before this (you even have it in your bullets) but in your order you have Ghost Rider #71 after this. This is because many Defenders issues are close together because of this storyline. The cleanest thing is probably to move all the Ghost Rider's from 65 - 71.
Posted by: Jake | March 14, 2017 2:02 PM
On the upside, Null's visual redesign here looks a lot better than his old "angry snarling cloud" look.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 14, 2017 7:53 PM
@Jake, thanks for pointing it out. My mistake probably relates to my earlier miss of not including Null as a character in this entry (although that doesn't explain how i missed the footnote). As you suggested, i've pushed all of Ghost Rider #65-71 prior to this arc.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 15, 2017 8:03 AM
Even with the passage of time, it's still grin-inducing to see the pompous and haughty Prince Namor reduced to blubbering in that ending panel.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 7, 2017 11:37 PM
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