Issue(s): Defenders #21
Meanwhile the Hulk shows up in the suburbs of Westbury, Connecticut, and causes a disruption.
Across the street, a pair of weird scientists plot something.
Later, Banner, confused about what he may have done (it's OK, you just smashed some poor guy's house) shows up shirtless at Strange's house in Greenwich.
Then the two scientists meet a mystic in the city, and they create a black rain that causes everyone to go crazy and attack people in the streets. This includes many ordinary New Yorkers and... the Hulk. In the chaos, Nighthawk sees one of the scientists, who has a regular head on a gorilla's body, and chases him, but the gorilla-man gets away. The effects of the black rain eventually wear off but it gives the scientists and the mystic time to steal some loot to fund further ventures.
Points for having a 'bad guy plot' that isn't foiled by the heroes.
The bad guys in question will be called the Headmen, and all three have appeared before in Marvel's Monster Age. The Gorilla-Man is Arthur Nagan, a surgeon who was replacing failing human organs with gorilla ones until the gorillas rebelled and put his head on a gorilla's body.
The other scientist is Jerry Morgan, who had created a shrinking formula that pre-dated Henry Pym's.
Unfortunately, in between his previous appearance and this one, he had a mishap which has caused his head to become strangely misshapen. The mystic is Chondu.
In his previous appearance he actually seemed like a good guy, but apparently the years have not been kind to him and he seeks some material wealth. It's cool to see Gerber mining Marvel's past to create these guys. They're a little silly but they're actually handled quite well.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Thing leaves here after visiting with the Defenders last issue. No Thing appearances should occur between Defenders #20 and #21.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showArthur Nagan, Chondu, Clea, Dr. Strange, Hulk, Jerry Morgan, Nighthawk, Thing, Trish Starr, Valkyrie
At about this time, Gerber listed as possible future Defenders Namorita, Wundarr, and Venus.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 24, 2013 3:24 PM
Loved the Defenders series but this issue was really weird. Not a big fan of the Headmen, though the 2 Sal's got together for some decent art. I was looking forward to seeing more super villain groups like the Wrecking Crew but I agree those ideas grow a little stale after a while. If anything, this one was different.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 3:45 PM
For the record, Trixie (now Trish) is Egghead's niece, not his daughter.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | July 12, 2014 12:32 PM
Thanks, Matthew. Fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 12, 2014 7:10 PM
Here's where Defenders becomes, for a while, Marvel's best team book!
Posted by: Cecil | May 23, 2016 8:56 PM
Looks like Chondu the Mystic was swiped from an early-'30's radio show called "Chandu the Magician", about Frank Chandler, an American stage magician who spent time in the Far East learning and perfecting the practice of white magic, later returning to the States to use his knowledge against various and sundry evil-doers. In 1932, at the height of the pre-Hays Code era, Fox made a film adaptation of the show, starring Edmund Lowe as Chandler/Chandu, with Bela Lugosi as a villain called Roxor. Strangely enough, two years later a 12-part serial called "The Return of Chandu", with LUGOSI in the title role, one of the few times he got to play "the good guy".
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 1, 2017 10:12 PM
I never made that connection! Your comment spurred me to look up fnord's review of Chondu's first appearance. The story was drawn by Gene Colan, and the image of Chondu in its splash panel is a superb likeness of Lugosi.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | June 1, 2017 10:58 PM
@Luke Yeah, I saw that panel you speak of that Gene Colan draw. My first thought upon seeing it was "Yep, near-spittin' image".
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 1, 2017 11:49 PM
Sorry, meant to say Gene Colan DREW!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 1, 2017 11:52 PM
Thanks for the info about Chandu/Chondu. I've long known about Chandu but am only now learning about Chondu. My cousin always called Raymond Chandler "Chandu the Moldy Magician," don't ask me why. He thought he was hilariously corny, in that so-bad-it's-good sort of way. Just one more crazy facet in Bela Lugosi's never ending but mostly unwanted legacy of over-the-top character archetypes-- Dracula, hunchbacked Henchman, Hypnotist, mad Scientist, moldy Magician, and so forth.
Posted by: Holt | February 10, 2018 11:34 PM
@Holt- Connecting the Headmen to your list of Lugosi roles, don't forget he was also a man-ape (THE APE MAN-1943). Of course, most people would forget that one!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | February 11, 2018 12:16 AM
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