Issue(s): Defenders #44, Defenders #45, Defenders #46
Dr. Strange is still missing. It's been "hours" since he became the Red Rajah. The Hulk gets really agitated about the fact that no one's looking for him, but the Valkyrie calms him down.
The Hulk apologizes to Luke Cage, referring to him as "fuzzy-hair".
The boy Defenders head to the hotel of Dr. Karindu only to find that there had been a battle between the Rhino, Solarr, and the Red Rajah. The policeman in charge is Lt. Kris Keating, who will later become a minor supporting character in Spider-man (with Kris usually being spelled Chris).
Meanwhile, Jack Noriss is confronted and chased by someone from his past, possibly his cultist days.
Soon after, Hellcat shows up at Dr. Strange's house...
...where the girl Defenders are hanging out talking about the Red Guardian's visa problems. She had been training with Moondragon when a mystical threat was detected. Suddenly, the people on the streets of NY become mindless zombies.
The boy Defenders also notice the problem and head to a glow they detect coming from Central Park. They find the Red Rajah and are quickly defeated and possessed...
...and they do a fine job of defeating Rajah and waking up Dr. Strange.
The boy/girl thing was a little annoying and there really weren't any great twists to the plot. This was a very straightforward story.
In the epilogue to issue #45, Dr. Strange announces that he has to leave the Defenders. This continues directly into issue #46. Luke Cage announces that he's leaving as well, and the Red Guardian says she has to go back to the USSR. However, Hellcat offers to stick around for a while. The letters page says this is a deliberate attempt to restore the Defenders to a "non-team" status, whatever that means.
The Hulk isn't happy about any of this.
While the remaining Defenders (Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hulk, and Hellcat) relocate from Dr. Strange's house to Nighthawk's ranch in upstate New York, Jack Noriss' pursuer catches up with him and it's... Nick Fury? (He'll actually turn out to be an LMD.)
Meanwhile, the Defenders find themselves facing Scorpio, wielding the Zodiac Key.
He's looking for Kyle Richmond, unaware of his alter-ego as Nighthawk. The Defenders manage to chase him off. My initial thought is that Steranko's plots are best left alone.
Finally, the Elf With a Gun shows up to kill a boy on his paper route, but is instead himself killed, run over by a Mac-Ray Moving Co. truck.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hellcat says that she put the Avengers on standby before going to Dr. Strange's house. The MCP lists Captain America and Iron Man as appearing in Defenders #44. I don't see them. There's a flashback that shows Cap & IM along with the rest of the Avengers (Vision, Scarlet Witch, Beast), but if that's what the MCP is referring to, why not list the others? Maybe it's referenced somewhere else that those are the two Avengers that are on standby, but i don't know where. Anyway, we'll trust the MCP on this. Another Captain America appearance before the Kirby trade. Keeping issue #46 with #45 due to the cliffhanger in the epilogue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Defenders #45 has a dedication to the Canadian rock band Rush. I can't figure out what elements of the issue may refer to the band though, since I only have their first album.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 16, 2011 3:00 PM
The Red Rajah quotes a line from their song Twilight Zone: "Truth is false and logic lost".
Posted by: fnord12 | July 16, 2011 4:38 PM
Steve Gerber later said in interviews that he had no resolution in mind for the Elf subplot, and that what Kraft & Slifer did was just as good as anything he might have done.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 24, 2011 1:44 PM
That lmd we'll later become "Max" Fury, head of security for the Shadow Council after the real Nick Fury tries to execute him.
Posted by: doomsday | July 3, 2013 7:20 PM
Is it definitely confirmed that it was this LMD that appeared in Secret Avengers? There have been a lot of Nick Fury LMDs. The Marvel Wikipedia seems to say so, but the description stubbornly adjusts for the sliding timescale (i think) and says this story took place "In the early 2000s".
Posted by: fnord12 | July 3, 2013 10:02 PM
The Giffen/Jansen art in these issues are outstanding. Makes me wonder how the Defenders would of turned out if Gerber/Giffen were writer/co-plotters/artist? How weird would it have gotten then?
Posted by: A.Lloyd | March 4, 2014 10:51 PM
I began to lose interest after Sal Buscema's departure from the Defenders. Soon after his absence I stopped collecting the series. A major disappointment with the art and the storylines. My comic collecting was nearing the end, as I was witnessing a dramatic shift in art, stories, and dialogue in Marvel comics.
Posted by: Mike | June 23, 2014 11:16 AM
Reading Nighthawk's line about being on his payroll, I get the idea where the Ultimate version of Defenders came from.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 21, 2015 7:36 AM
I read somewhere that it was the Comics Code Authority that made Marvel wrap up the Elf storyline, since he was at this point a murderer who had gone unpunished. The original plan was to put the CCA seal on the back panel of the truck (which is just the right size for it.),
Posted by: Andrew | May 26, 2015 8:10 PM
Gerry's plot does carry over, as credited, through #45. He left no notes, however, and Giffen's pages came in with no explanation as to what was intended. Slifer called his friend DAK up for help, and they dialogued #44-45 over a weekend, swapping out scenes and offering suggestions. This is actually how Roger got acquainted with Rush! Kraft wrote all Hellcat's dialogue and got headaches from Cage's hackneyed style of speech. Hulk's hectoring of Nighthawk reflect the author's regard for Kyle. The Red Guardian was written a little too convincingly for the assistant editor, who requested the scripters scale back their leftist politics. Actually, they were nascent Randists at the time, like Rush lyricist Neil Peart- irony!
The scene where the three heroines discuss the Star of Capistan's influence in relation to their own predilections is my favorite part of these issues. Karindu's reference to the Indian city of "Dash-it-all"-where the Star is found- is a pun that rests on one of their heads.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | April 26, 2016 2:25 AM
In #45 there's the line "Stare deep into the Star of Capistan-- and become one with the Brotherhood of Man!" - that's another Rush reference (2112, "come and join the Brotherhood of Man [...] hold the Red Star proudly high in hand"). The whole "end individual will" thing is very reminiscent of the Syrinx characters in the 2112 song.
Posted by: Enchlore | July 10, 2016 4:56 PM
Is it safe to assume that this is actually Kris Keating, and not yet the Foreigner?
Kraft and Slider did a great job with such a pedestrian plot, and I love what they did to the elf. Maybe his good cousin Welf can leave some buckets of duckers for us 😁
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 20, 2017 1:26 AM
Through the 60s and early 70s Hulk was really miserable with his constant being reject by the world. The frustration of his sorrowful situation was compelling, but it was too much. I think that his entering in the Defenders was a really needed relief valve. In the early Defenders' stories it was touching to read Hulk screaming at his deceitful enemies that he has friends and starting to list them (http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/hulk_172.shtml), especially with their "Hulk monikers" (purple man, dumb magician, silver man...). It just underline his being an eternal child despite his enormous strength.
Here, the first page of #46 show the face of the Defenders just after Strange announced to be leaving the team. I think the the Hulk's one is just telling. That image just shows how much this first group of people that he can finally call friends has become important. The guy can brawl with god and cosmic being, being hit by nuclear weapons and worse, but it's when his new group of friends show signs of weakness that his world is at stake. Even the importance of the group during the events of Jarella's death are significant.
After that, the Elf with a Gun. Seriously? I mean, I am a sucker for nonsense, but that is just random. You could expect that in Howard the Duck.
Posted by: jti88 . | June 27, 2017 4:46 AM
Is the Red Rajah a character?
Posted by: a.lloyd | June 26, 2018 11:06 PM
He was Dr. Strange possessed by the Star of Capistan. I always thought he was one of the Defenders best villains! Neat costume...never appeared again anywhere as far as I know.
Posted by: KevinA | June 27, 2018 9:01 AM
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