Issue(s): Defenders #22, Defenders #23, Defenders #24, Defenders #25
Everyone winds up at Strange's place.
The Hulk is there too, and i demand to know why he never changes back into Bruce Banner in the Defenders, even when he's calm and happy, as he is now, playing with Elena's baby. Strange vows to lodge a complaint to the Board of Health regarding Elena's apartment. Meanwhile, someone lurks outside Strange's building.
Also meanwhile, the Sons of the Serpent firebomb the same apartment that Valkyrie found Elena in. The Defenders go to the apartment to pick up some things for the baby, and see the aftermath of the explosion. The landlord shows up and it turns out to be Holliman. He gets into a fight with his tenants, who are mostly black, and then the Sons of the Serpent attack again, shouting white supremacist rhetoric.
The Hulk, who is not white, is offended by the Son's slogans and attacks...
...and the other Defenders join him and easily route the thugs. They retreat, vowing to attack again later.
It's nice to see the book tackling poverty, and in such a mundane way (i.e., Strange's solution to call the Department of Health). Hulk's reaction to the Son's white skin comments were amusing too.
Later, Yellowjacket spots some Sons of the Serpent on a rooftop across the way from Dr. Strange's house...
...and he beats them up and brings one in for questioning. They see someone else outside the window and they attack him too, but he's not one of the Sons, he's Jack Norriss, the husband of Barbara Denton Norriss.
Then the leader of the Serpents hijacks the local airwaves and broadcasts a television message. This is depicted in half a page of text, which isn't the best format for a comic book. After the broadcast another firebomb is detonated. The Yellowjacket and the Hulk go to put out the fire while the rest reason that Holliman may be the leader of the Serpents this time, so they go after him.
The Hulk puts out the fire with his powerful clap, but useless Henry Pym twists his ankle badly rescuing people...
...and subsequently gets beaten up by some of the Sons. The other Defenders find that while Holliman was happy to benefit from the destruction of his buildings, he was not actually aligned with the Serpents. The Sons then openly attack the Defenders on the street, which you would think would be a really bad move, but they manage to quickly defeat the heroes, even the Hulk.
They take all of the Defenders prisoner except the Hulk, who they determine is too heavy to lift and too powerful to keep captive. They bank on the fact that when the Hulk wakes up, he won't even remember his friends, but as they leave, the Hulk turns back into Banner.
The Serpents plan is to destroy all the poor ethnic neighborhoods in every city, hoping that the resulting diaspora will create major tension in the white communities that will lead to a race war.
Banner returns to Strange's house with news of the Defenders' capture, and Clea summons a new group of heroes to rescue them, including the Son of Satan, Daredevil. and Luke Cage.
Then the Serpents get on TV again, this time to perform a public execution of the Valkyrie. Jack Norriss freaks out and runs out of the house. There's a hilarious panel where a bunch of the Defenders shout their corny exclamations:
Clea: Eyes of Oshtur!
Daredevil, with a Hulked-out Bruce Banner, go to stop the Serpents. Hulk is blinded in the fight by a special gun. Things seem hopeless but then Jack Norriss shows up and tackles the leader of the Serpents. This causes the rest of the New Yorkers that were gaping about to rally and fight off the remaining Serpents, showing that their message was not appealing to the average person.
Meanwhile, Clea opens a portal through Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamotto and the Song of Satan carries Luke Cage in his chariot through it. They rescue Strange, Nighthawk, and Pym (who had gotten loose but was wandering uselessly around the Serpent's lair). As they leave their prison, they find out that Nighthawk's business manager Pennyworth is actually running the Sons of the Serpent. This is especially surprising because we learn that Pennyworth is black. However he has a disdain for the average black person. He also makes the argument that Kyle's financial successes are based on the gouging of the average person - black and white - on a regular basis, so why should this venture be any different?
It's a nice critique of the wealthy, and corporations, and also a subtle knock at wealthy super-heroes, like Batman, the character Nighthawk is based on. Pennyworth gives Kyle the location of the Serpents' base, but when Luke Cage sees him he... gets mad.
After a quick final fight with the Sons of the Serpent, Nighthawk leaves the group to figure out what to do with himself and his business after this revelation.
In issue #25, an Elf shows up at a mobile home in a trailer park and murders a young couple.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nighthawk and Valkyrie appear in Marvel Team-Up #33-34 after Giant-Size Defenders #4 and before the beginning of this arc. Daredevil appears here between DD #123-124. Henry Pym next appears in Avengers #137.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (12): show
At one point the Sons of the Serpent have the Valkyrie tied upside down to a cross, the same position that Nomad finds Roscoe-Cap in after he's killed by the Red Skull, close to the same month of publication. Somebody needs to count how many upside-down crucifixions Marvel did this year...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 10, 2011 5:51 PM
The Nighthawk-Batman parallel is furthered by the fact that Batman's butler Alfred's last name is Pennyworth.
Pages of text show up at least once in nearly all of Gerber's titles; Tony Isabella does it at least one time as well.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 20, 2011 4:10 PM
this was my favourite sons of serpent arc. the sons were an actual threat this time. and Pennyworth was interesting, a successful black man who looks down on other blacks who cant/wont emulate his success. and nice point on the rich superhero critique, i hadnt picked up on that. but nighthawk is still a sucky character.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 1, 2011 2:58 PM
Man, yet another story where the true cause of white racism is that minorities don't know their place.
You would think that pairing the Sons of the Serpent with the Psycho-Man or the Hate Monger would be a lot more natural and less insulting than blaming black people.
Posted by: James Nostack | October 2, 2011 9:22 PM
The "Legion of Substitute Defenders" with Clea bringing in all the (poor-selling) heroes they had previous teamed up with is kind of funny, considering that the team itself is so ad hoc to begin with.
I like that the Serpents plan involved destroying the ghettos so that the white citizens (they assumed) would have to get off their butts and have the race war. No more white flight, it's fighting time. You lazy crackers!
The "corny catchphrase" panel is even more fun because you also have Daredevil "catch a glimpse of the screen" despite being, you know, blind. (I guess that's why he doesn't go "Jumping Judicial System!" or some such, huh?
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 3, 2013 5:55 AM
Gerber stated later that his inclusion of Jack Norriss(and Trish Starr) was strongly fought against by the editors.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 7, 2013 9:36 PM
It was fun to see all of these guest stars showing up helping the Defenders. It was looking pretty dismal in the first few issues, but then #25 shines brightly and wraps it up, thanks in part to the Son of Satan himself. He brings it to the serpents in the way that our "useless" Yellowjacket could not. Too funny.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 3:57 PM
To our friend from Prague (beautiful place)... The Sons of Serpents are a Metaphor to how agendas are carried out by banking elite and global politicos, to distract and divide the masses by race and religion, while the real power plays are executed.
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | July 24, 2016 2:27 AM
"An Elf With a Gun" would be a great B-movie title and concept, much like "Snakes on a Plane" and "Hobo With a Shotgun" were. In addition, it's sad to say that the issues and conflicts brought up in the Serpent Sons arc are still relevant today, 40-odd years removed from this story.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 1, 2017 11:17 PM
Comments are now closed.
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