Marvel Feature #1
Issue(s): Marvel Feature #1
Strange summons the Sub-Mariner for help, and Namor suggests that they get the Silver Surfer and the Hulk as well. Strange conjures up an image of the Silver Surfer slamming himself repeatedly into Galactus' barrier...
...and they decide to skip him and just go for the Hulk. Strange seeks the Hulk out in his astral form. When he finds him, he attacks him to get him to follow. Not the nicest strategy, but one that the Defenders and others will use repeatedly. Strange even says "And so it begins" when he starts his attack; not sure what that is meant to refer to but to me it looks like it's the manipulation of the Hulk that is beginning.
The Hulk is able to see Strange's astral form, a curiosity about the Hulk that will be explained many years later in the Flashback -1 issue as being due to the Hulk's fear of his dead father and his need to always be on the lookout for ghosts.
When the Hulk arrives at the site where Namor and Dr. Strange's physical form are waiting, they promise him glories in battle if he'll join them. Instead he just asks to be their friend.
Ross Andru's shaky pencils sometimes give Hulk a slapstick comedic quality that i don't like. Most of the time it looks OK, though.
The group heads to the Omegatron but as they are attacking Strange finds out that it will be the group's attack that activates the device. Strange uses illusions to trick the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner into fighting each other instead of the device, but even the vibrations of their fight activate the device's timer. Strange then casts a spell to slow down time, effectively preventing the countdown from ever reaching zero. The crisis is thus averted but the event leaves the group with a bad taste in their mouth and they part ways. Strange says if they ever get together again they should name themselves the Defenders.
I've always liked the Defenders mainly due to the Hulk's interaction with his teammates. It's a bit odd seeing Dr. Strange calling Hulk "behemoth" every other panel. I guess it's not technically an insult, but Strange could try a little harder to be nice. Overall, Andru's sketchy art aside, this is a nice beginning to for the "non-team".
In addition to a Golden Age Sub-Mariner reprint, this issue has a back-up feature showing how Dr. Strange got back to his normal status quo that we see in the main story. Dr. Strange returns to his house after some time away to find that it hasn't been boarded up as he instructed Wong to do, and he's been replaced by a usurper.
Strange has forsworn his magic, so he's unable to defend himself.
When he's knocked out by his doppelganger, the Ancient One appears.
The Ancient One restores Strange's full powers...
...and the usurper turns out to be Baron Mordo.
Mordo teleports away, but Strange tells Wong that he's renouncing his decision to give up being Dr. Strange.
Nice to see Don Heck of all people doing some mystic stuff, and it's a fairly important transition for Dr. Strange that really should have been included in the Day of the Defenders reprint.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Day of the Defenders
Inbound References (10): show
The art looks sketchy because Andru didn't ink it. Bill Everett inked it, and he found Andru's art impossible to deal with, so he called up Roy Thomas and complained that he couldn't figure what lines to work on. Everett had a bad drinking problem at the time, so Roy didn't take it too seriously. Bill then sent the art in with every single line inked, resulting in the art looking this way and nearly getting himself fired.
Roy originally wanted the Silver Surfer as the 3rd member to get a group symbolizing earth, water, and air. Stan vetoed the Surfer as a regular member, so Roy un-retired Dr. Strange and used him, necessitating the backup story explaining how Strange came back.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 13, 2011 8:25 PM
I updated the inker credit. Thanks.
Day of the Defenders annoyingly only reprinted the main story from this issue, so i wasn't aware of that back-up, which is definitely needed to explain the fact that Strange retired in Hulk #126 but was back in operation for this story.
And, as always, thanks for the cool behind-the-scenes info.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 13, 2011 9:57 PM
Great top comment, I love reading interesting tidbits about my favorite Marvel comic era. I also rate this comic as a C mainly because of Everett's very sloppy inking. Would've been a lot nicer if Sal had taken up the Defenders in Marvel Feature, but it is what it is... err, was. Never really liked Ross Andru's work, especially in Spider-man. His hero poses were mostly pretty stale, and his battle scenes just didn't hit with the bang that Sal's or Romita's did.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 10:27 AM
Not to dispute Mark Drummond's comment, but perhaps to add to it, here is what Roy Thomas wrote in the intro to Defenders Masterworks:
"Will Bill, though, didn't like inking Ross Andru. Ross's penciling style had an unpolished, even unfinished look to it. That's because, in Ross' eye, his penciling never was totally finished. He'd lay down a pencil line for, say, a muscle . . . then he's have another thought of what that muscle might look like . . . and then he'd draw that one, too. His inkers - particularly Mike Esposito, Ross' major inker for many years - would have to choose which line to embellish, and the other(s) would be erased. Bill, however, found that approach sloppy. And, being in a cantankerous mood that month, he decided that if Stan was going to make him ink Andru, he'd ink all of Andru - or at least most of it."
Sorry for the strange punctuation - I copied it verbatim. But if you think it looks bad in the scans above, you should look at the Masterworks, where it just looks awful. Thomas does talk about how mad Stan was, but also "its scratchy look still, today, comes just about the closest possible to looking like Ross' pencils."
The ironic thing about the truly terrible art is that the cover is by Neal Adams and has a perfect drawing of the Hulk - one of my all-time favorites (they used that cover as the cover for Masterworks).
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 11, 2015 6:34 PM
It's worth noting that every time the Hulk gets mad at Strange from now, it could be because he remembers being called a "brainless idiot" when Strange thought he couldn't be heard. Makes World War Hulk much more justified.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 25, 2016 12:05 AM
According to roommate (and comics writer) Mike Friedrich, "Wild Bill" Everett gave up drinking around the time of this story. So it was "Sober Bill" that gave us that great run on Sub-Mariner in 1972-73 before his untimely death.
Posted by: Haydn | August 17, 2016 3:08 PM
I always loved the proper Defenders, from their first appearance through the classic run, the truly weird and way out stuff. Tunnelworld severely tested my patience, but it wasn't until the god awful New Defenders and associated rubbish that I decided to give them a miss, with a heavy heart.
Then Larsen brought them back, and escalated them to a world threat as The Order, and that was that for me.
The more recent iterations, including all the grrl power token lipstick lesbianism and the rest is such a disservice to the original non-team and the very adult stories and topics they tackled, almost from day one.
Never got the love they deserved, The proper Defenders.
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 12, 2017 12:23 AM
We later learn that when the Ancient One restored Stephen's powers he also erased the name "Stephen Sanders" from the world and restored his correct name of Stephen Strange.
Posted by: Gary Himes | October 15, 2017 1:13 AM
A more successful example of Bill Everett's inking on Ross Andru's pencils can be seen in the 1968 Spider-Man story from Marvel Super-Heroes #14.
Posted by: Holt | January 12, 2018 10:00 PM
I don't think they needed to explain "for the record" why the Hulk has always been able to see astral forms; I remember it being suggested, but not verified, it was initially because of the Hulk's child-like nature- but then, the grey incarnation could see them as well. Sometimes they take all the magic away by finding secrets to reveal that we didn't need revealed....
Posted by: Wis | January 12, 2018 11:50 PM
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