Issue(s): Defenders #128, Defenders #129, Defenders #130
The Defenders eventually start moping long enough to realize that Moondragon knows where the Secret Empire is (she read it from Cloud's mind before she was captured). After several defeats (including getting captured and forced to fight mental simulations of the New Mutants)...
...the team is able to free Cloud, stop an attempt at triggering World War III, and defeat Professor Power.
The Defenders are aided by Seraph, who we saw in Cloud's first appearance as one of her fellow Secret Empire agents. It turns out that Seraph is a double-agent working for Russia's SHIELD counterparts.
(Harridan, the final member of the trio that included Cloud and Seraph that we first saw in the attempted kidnapping of the Vision a few issues ago, appears in these issues but doesn't have a speaking part.)
At the end of this arc, the New Defenders are given official government clearance, validating the Beast's attempts to make them a real team.
In a flashback depicting Cloud's abduction into the Secret Empire, we see Mad Dog and Mutant Force involved in the attack. Mad Dog was only recently given his powers by the Empire, so Cloud's kidnapping couldn't have been that long ago, even though she looks much younger in the flashback.
A few references are made to the Champions by Angel and Iceman - a comparison of Valkyrie to Hercules, and a desire for a vehicle like they had on that team. They don't seem to remember that their vehicle never actually worked properly. Anyway, no specific footnotes.
Professor Power is really being set up to be the New Defender's Dr. Doom. The connection is somewhat tenuous. Power is interested in gaining vengeance on Professor X, and some of the Defenders are former X-Men, so... Anyway, Power and his Secret Empire are a bit tedious for me, so i'm glad that he didn't really stick once his creator DeMatteis left the book.
The most interesting aspect of this book is Moondragon. She's arrogant...
...she's clearly mentally manipulating the other team members, and she's not at all adverse to destroying the mind of Professor Power when the team can't defeat him physically.
But she's also got a soft side and is especially kind to Cloud.
DeMatteis is definitely making a good attempt at characterization but he tries too hard and everyone's moods come out exaggerated. The Defenders aren't just upset that they lost to the Secret Empire in issue #127; they're downright depressed. Moondragon isn't just arrogant; she's insufferably so. Angel and Iceman aren't just subtly manipulated into being attracted to Moondragon; they can't stop thinking about her and literally share word balloons. It's all a bit much. It's not terrible, it's just not quite good.
Anyway, this is DeMatteis' last full issue.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Some time has passed since Defenders #127, but the team was focused on relocating their base and licking their wounds, so they really shouldn't appear in other comics between #127 and #128. The team of New Mutants the Defenders fight isn't consistent with the current line-up. The lettercol for issue #134 says this means that this arc runs earlier, when the original line-up was in place. But that's completely unnecessary - the Secret Empire's data on the New Mutants isn't necessarily up to date.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
One should mention the extraordinary and most beautiful cover of #130. It's really outstanding art! And by the way: In the second line you wrote "Moonstone" when you wanted to write "Moondragon". ;-)
Posted by: Marcus | September 9, 2012 6:11 PM
Thanks, Marcus. I've corrected my Moondragon/Moonstone flub.
And yeah, a lot of Defenders issues for this era have nice painted covers. Frank Cirocco did many of them, including #130.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2012 10:13 AM
Angel and Iceman have the exact same thought bubbles in that last scan. I wonder if that's just a mistake, or indicating that their thoughts are being imposed on by Moondragon?
Posted by: Andrew | May 22, 2015 9:55 PM
Andrew, yes, you got it. Their thoughts are being influenced by Moondragon. This is an ongoing situation, which gets revealed in a later issue.
Posted by: Dermie | May 23, 2015 12:22 AM
I read on a forum that DeMatteis quit the book because of conflict with regards to direction and/or ideas being nixed. Anyone know anything more?
(I know his Defenders run is probably some of his least liked work, and fnord certainly didn't enjoy it, but for me I think it started out strong but lost it's feet around about the time Nighthawk died but then almost found them again after the New Defenders relaunch. And the line-up of Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat, Hellstorm, Gargoyle and Devil-Slayer is pretty much the definitive Defenders roster in my eyes)
Posted by: AF | March 17, 2016 12:22 PM
In that last big panel of the Mutant Force, Slither for once looks creepy rather than goofy.
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 12, 2016 9:59 AM
There's an interesting idea at the core of Professor Power, which is that he's an ultranationalist "conquer the world" sort of villain with a tragic side, but an American neoconservative (before that term and ideology were popularly discussed) from the U.S. instead of some other country.
Unfortunately in practice he seems both generic, acting like just another megalomaniac baddie. And he's rather weirdly mismatched in his motifs, what with the high-tech circuitry of his armor, the Roman legions theme of his minions (which is a nod to the neoclassical republicanism of the original, academic neoconservatives), and the flying(!) castle headquarters lifted straight off of Doctor Doom.
Successful villains like Doom pick one motif -- in his case, Ruritanian kingdom -- and stick to it. Maybe if Power would have worked better if he had stuck with the neoclassical motif all the way through, or played up the ultranationalism: too bad the Iron Patriot identity was so far in the future.
It's kind of interesting that the Secret Empire got pegged as the "corrupt American elitism" subversive organization tanks to Engelhart's use of them. I suppose this is what Kurt Busiek was picking up on when he merged them with the Royalist Forces later on in Thunderbolts.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 5, 2016 4:50 PM
I'm not sure if I'd call Power a neoconservative- for starters, he apparently was a superpatriot prior to the Vietnam War- what we call neoconservatism didn't really take off until after 1970. Also, the original neoconservatives were all immigrants or children of immigrants, which Power doesn't seem to be.
Posted by: Michael | August 5, 2016 7:05 PM
Yeah, neoconservatism is probably too anachronistic; DeMatteis was probably thinking more of folks like Curtis LeMay and Herbert Kahn. But the Roman legions thing and the Secret Empire's general ethos as a hidden elite does reflect a respect for the Roman Republic shared among those older ultrapatriots and neoconservatives who emerged after 1970.
Strauss was certainly well-known in academic circles before 1970, but he was more interested in the Greeks -- especially the Athenians -- in making his "exoteric vs. esoteric" distinction.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 5, 2016 8:15 PM
Anyway, Power is still the germ of an interesting idea, but the character doesn't work because of a bland characterization and a mishmash of conflicting superficial elements. (It's so much easier to be brief the second time.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 5, 2016 8:18 PM
See, I think those are all signs that DeMatteis either deliberately or unwittingly ended up creating "Doctor Doom but from America."
Last name is both a common noun for an abstract concept and part of his supervillain codename? Check.
Academic title? Check.
Obsessively blames a Silver Age patriarchal team leader for a tragedy that was really of his own making? Check.
Throw in the power armor and the "I must save my doomed family member" elements and the match becomes rather clear.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 6, 2016 2:50 PM
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