Issue(s): Defenders #151, Defenders #152
He notices Moondragon, angrily waiting on a nearby boat getting rocked by the waves, but decides it's not yet time for a conflict, so he moves on.
Meanwhile, the Defenders say goodbye to Seraph after the events of last issue, and return to their headquarters. They find what seems to be Candy waiting to jump out at them from a giant stag party cake...
...but she turns out to be a hologram hiding Manslaughter, who has taken control of the computer system.
Manslaughter reveals that he's actually auditioning to join the team. Of course, he's a crazed assassin, so it's not a welcome audition, so he starts taking out the team one by one through a series of prepared traps plus his own minor mental abilities.
He's even got a hologram of an Elf With A Gun.
Eventually the Interloper shows up to put a stop to things...
...and reveal that Manslaughter was actually once a student of his. And that the Defenders ought to let him join the team, because they're about to face a great threat and they'll need all the help they can get. And that threat is Moondragon.
Issue #152 covers the epic battle between Moondragon and the Defenders.
Manslaughter and Moondragon still have a mental link from their last encounter, so the battle gets a little weird...
...and causes her to retreat. While she's gone, the Interloper describes his relationship with Manslaughter in more detail.
We learn that the Interloper's battle with the Dragon of the Moon goes back to at least the time of King Arthur.
Nothing really comes of the Interloper or Manslaughter (i haven't read Manslaughter's appearance in the 90s Luke Cage series yet and i'm not sure that i'm looking forward to it), but it's clear that Gillis put some serious investment into them and they remain intriguing characters to me.
Moondragon, meanwhile, is not recovering well from Manslaughter's mental assault, and she refuses to take the dragon's power back to face the Defenders again.
The dragon, worming around her body manipulatively, tells her that it senses the Beyonder and suggests that she summon him to request extra power.
I've never quite fully grasped the meaning of what happens next. The Beyonder shows up and seemingly clears Moondragon of the Dragon's corruption (or possibly the Dragon is just trying to hide; it did say earlier that it's afraid of him).
She says that she just wants to do good in the world, and agrees to be his disciple. He notices a ring that she is wearing, which is actually the Dragon. He considers throwing the ring away, but instead gives it back to her as a token of her disciplehood.
And then as soon as she leaves, she becomes corrupted again, and goes back after the Defenders with her powers having been increased by the Beyonder.
Despite her power she uses treachery when re-initiating the battle with the Defenders. She shows up looking weak and disheveled, and apparently the fact that they approach her with kindness doesn't change her opinion of them. So she pulls the soul from Gargoyle, transforming him into a true monster, although not quite in the same way as the Gnostic mystic from Defenders #136-137, although it's certainly a callback to that story.
The fact that Moondragon now controls a "demon" in addition to her current (enhanced) powers makes her even more formidable, allowing her to bend time and space, according to the Interloper. Before the final battle, Moondragon whisks away Angel (restoring his sight), Beast, and Iceman, and threatens to kill Candy, the Defenders' mechanic Chris Larmouth, and the teenagers that Cloud used as a template if they join their comrades.
This triggers a comment from Iceman that is pretty interesting in light of some recent comments about his abilities. While anyone with a good imagination can think of creative ways for Iceman to use his powers, he typically isn't used to do more than create ice shields, shoot ice at people, and slide around. It really isn't until the White Queen possesses him for a while in the 90s that his powers are used in darker and more deadly ways. But here he is threatening to use his powers to go lethal.
He doesn't actually do so, however. The non-mutant Defenders, including Interloper and Manslaughter, face off against Moondragon and her Gargoyle and Dragon, and tell the mutants to go and rescue their friends.
They join hands and commit their life energies to the task, stopping Moondragon but turning themselves into ash statues in the process.
When it's over, Larmouth and the Cloud teenagers wake up. They have a message for the mutants from Heather Douglas.
It's a good (temporary) ending for Moondragon, who has made a good villain on several occasions but whose character is a little more complicated than that. And Gillis does a good job wrapping up the series in general, despite not getting the opportunity to fully develop all the characters he's introduced (in addition to Interloper and Manslaughter, there's also Andromeda).
#152 has the Secret Wars II tie-in corner, but i've always felt it should have had the X-Factor corner too. I've seen it said that this book was cancelled to make room for New Universe titles (I'll talk more about the New Universe in the entry for Secret Wars II #9), but really there's a one-for-one trade here between the New Defenders and X-Factor, with half the cast moving to that book. I mentioned in my review of FF #286 that i would have liked to see John Byrne write X-Factor. I also wouldn't have minded at all if the creative team here just continued on in that book (especially if we could have got Kim DeMulder back on inks). The Gillis Defenders run was one of my favorites. Certainly very different from its zany and non-team roots. But a good team book with a lot of character and original stories.
Gillis will get to revive and play with the non-X characters a bit more during his Dr. Strange run.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #152 is a tie-in with Secret Wars II #7. There isn't actually a direct tie in, but at the end of that issue, the Beyonder decides that his role is to teach others what their true role should be, which i guess you could say is what he's trying to do with Moondragon here. This takes place after Fantastic Four #286, although not necessarily directly after; Mr. Fantastic Four is shown attempting to contact the Defenders in #152, but he's with the Human Torch, who wasn't seen at the end of FF #286.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
Manslaughter seemed to have an obsession with kissing his enemies. One of the scans shows him about to kiss Moondragon, and he also kissed Angel while disguised with the Candy Southern hologram.
Posted by: Dermie | October 27, 2013 12:25 AM
Fnord12, thanks for referencing my comments.
Posted by: doomsday | October 27, 2013 12:29 AM
It was certainly odd to see the Beyonder cleanse Moondragon just to see her being corrupted back immediately after.
On one level (perhaps the most accurate one) that may be just Peter Gillis refusing to disguise how the event blew his storyline apart. I would like to think of it as a refusal of letting a Deus Ex Machina fix deeply rooted traumas, though.
Despite saying that, I liked Secret Wars II considerably more than I did the first - which is not saying much.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 9, 2013 9:31 PM
I suspect Interloper is making a reference to Gilgamesh the Forgotten One in his "...save one Eternal only, who was cast out and forgotten by this people." comment with the "Eternals" maxi-series footnote.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 21, 2013 4:42 AM
This seems lika cool run. Odd that it's been so forgotten, though. Most of the main characters seem to basically disappear after this, and given how many times the X-characters have mentioned it since it may as well not have happened.
Posted by: entzauberung | April 6, 2015 8:00 AM
#142, is absolute trash. Probaably one of the worst comics I've ever read. The battle was just boring and dragged on, too much exposition and the inclusion of the Beyonder was nonsensical.The art was so-so. I usually like Perlin, but he needs the right inker.
Posted by: Sparky Ryan | September 1, 2015 11:29 AM
I first read #152 in the Secret Wars II omnibus and thought it was rubbish. Having read the rest of the run now, it's only a bit better. It's nowhere near as epic or as exciting as it sounds on paper. Very rushed and a very weak ending. Very hard to follow in parts and Interloper comes across as a deus ex machina since basically all he does is show up and lead the charge against the Dragon.
And most of the deaths have zero impact since Andromeda, Interloper and Manslaughter were such minor characters and all 3 had next to no real development beforehand. And then the 3 important characters that die is less effective by the entire thing happening off-panel.
But my main gripe, then and now, is how I felt it was a story that made one of my favourite characters completely irredeemable. And what's weird is they never really bothered to try and redeem Moondragon for this. It was sort of just swept under the rug and ignored. For the better, I think, since the whole run makes Moondragon basically weak and evil. But it definitely makes the entire Marvel Universe look like morons by her being welcomed back onto the Avengers and stuff after this story. Hell, in #305 she's even in the same room as Beast and this never comes up.
Posted by: AF | January 13, 2016 8:12 AM
But that really started with Avengers 220, where she takes over a world, rapes Thor and kills her father.
Posted by: Michael | January 13, 2016 8:19 AM
Granted, I loathe Moondragon, but, this is hardly where she becomes irredeemable. At least here you can blame some of it on the Dragon. In Avengers 219-220, she is far worse, so much so that it was how she ended up in the Defenders (headband on to limit the powers, watched over by Valkyrie).
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 13, 2016 11:38 AM
Eh, it was easy enough to write that off as "misguided". Her intentions were good, her actions weren't. Like DeMatteis proved, it was very possible to come back from the Ba-Bani thing. Hell, even Gillis showed Moondragon as being redeemable before this.
Here she is just flat-out evil under the influence of the Dragon of the Moon. She tears out her friend's soul for him trying to help her. It's so damaging that they were quick to sweep it under the rug and no writer other than Gillis really ever refers to it specifically. I guess it's just thankful that by this point hardly anyone was reading Defenders and she didn't kill anyone notably major (killing Valkyrie and Gargoyle had little effect since without a Defenders book, they would've probably not appeared anywhere else anyway).
Posted by: AF | January 13, 2016 2:07 PM
I do find it interesting how people feel about Moondragon. There are plenty of other characters who are let off for similar stuff or even worse stuff. The whole Magneto family tree is a good example. Everyone thinks Claremont's nonsense "tragic hero" Magneto is fine, Quicksilver has done some bloody atrocious things over the decades and Scarlet Witch in recent years has done stuff even worse than everything Moondragon's ever done.
Heather's a strong, female character and has been almost since inception. And this is without ever having any of the turgid pageantry and overwriting of Claremont's "strong women". I look up to Moondragon as a strong role model for women. She is a completely sincere product and not a forced attempt or embarrassing pastiche like what they've made Carol Danvers into now or any of Claremont's hair-tearing "projects".
In general, I think Gillis did a poor job with her. He made her look incredibly weak. More or less the minute the headband is removed she succumbs to the Dragon and he clutters up her backstory - which should be about her - by revealing most everything about her can be explained or defined by the contributions of other people/things (Dragon of the Moon, Runner).
Posted by: AF | January 13, 2016 2:46 PM
We've discussed before why some characters get forgiven and others don't. Look at Hank Pym vs. Emma Frost, for example.
Posted by: Michael | January 13, 2016 8:52 PM
... Emma Frost is my favourite character.
Maybe I'm broken.
Posted by: AF | January 14, 2016 4:25 AM
Well, she was before Bendis and Gillen and Aaron and all those lot.
Posted by: AF | January 14, 2016 4:26 AM
I was never a fan of the Defenders in practice although I did like certain aspects of it, but I do find it very surprising for Marvel to cancel a series with such longevity.
Marvel cancelled several series in 1986 - Defenders, PM & IF, Micronauts, Dazzler, Dr. Strange, and The Thing (there may be more). But they also launched X-Factor and Dakota North. Not to mention some series had only begun in 1985 (Web of Spider-Man, Cloak & Dagger) and lots of Limited Series. It seems strange to me that Defenders would be one of the ones cut. (Given how atrocious Alpha Flight had become clearly that would have been a mercy killing in order to save the Defenders.)
Even though Defenders is losing three members to X-Factor, it is not like those are iconic to the Defenders brand. A new time around iconic Defender Valkyrie plus some classic and new members could certainly hold down the fort. It also would have been a place to house Dr Strange for a while. It might even have been a place to house PM & IF (or at least one of them).
Posted by: Chris | October 16, 2017 5:51 PM
The cancellation is shocking. This is actually my favourite 1985 title, so it really hurts that it was replaced with X-Factor (which eventually became a favourite of mine but not until over a decade later). Poor Peter Gillis was cursed. What If?, this and Micronauts all died soon after he took over writing them. It's not like he's a bad writer by any stretch. I blame lack of promotion for this one. The new Defenders, despite featuring Ice-man from TV and two other original X-men received no hype at all in Bullpen Bulletens or Marvel Age. They never even got a mention in Secret Wars, much less a cross-over until it was already cancelled. With all the competition, I suppose a lot of people never risked giving this a chance based on no information about what it actually was.
Posted by: Benway | November 3, 2017 8:36 PM
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