Issue(s): Defenders #1
...and mentally forcing the Hulk to go to Dr. Strange.
The bad guys in question are the Undying Ones, specifically working through their servant, the demon Necrodamus.
The demon intends to sacrifice Namor in one hour, when the stars are aligned, and he's placed a forcefield around him to preserve him until then. Neither the Hulk's strength nor Strange's magic can break through the forcefield, and when Strange decides to try to stop time to take a breather, the spell not only fails but he also unwittingly weakens the spell that was slowing down the timer for Yandroth's Omegatron, which is a neat way to set up a future story.
For this story, though, the Hulk and Strange just fight a demon...
...find Namor (who got pulled away after they failed to breech the forcefield)...
...and then fight Necrodamus.
It's a plot very much in Dr. Strange's domain, and so not really a clear indicator of how this series will work going forward. The Undying Ones aren't really all that exciting a threat; they just happen to be the one that got the group together in the first place (sort of).
At the end of this issue, Namor claims that it was actually the Silver Surfer that dumped him in front of the Hulk, kicking off a quest that will culminate in the next arc.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: As with Marvel Feature #2-3, fits rather uncomfortably between Hulk #156-157. For Sub-Mariner, we'll learn in Defenders #2 that he was dropped in front of the Hulk here while "my cousin Namorita and I were building my new South Polar home". That home is completed in Sub-Mariner #52. So this takes place before Sub-Mariner #52. At the start of Defenders #2, it'll be said that Namor and Dr. Strange have been searching for the Sub-Mariner for "two months". That's arguably just a realtime publication metacomment (this book is on a bimonthly schedule) but i'm allowing time between issues and even other appearances by Namor and Strange; they don't have to be searching for the Sub-Mariner constantly.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showDr. Strange, Hulk, Nameless One, Necrodamus, Sub-Mariner 1972 / Box 7 / EiC: Roy Thomas
1972 / Box 7 / EiC: Roy Thomas
A great way to kick off the series, with a little occult and mystery thrown in, along with a continuing side twist. The team of Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia were top notch, one of my favorite tandems. (I've always pronounced them Boo-she-ma and Gyo-sha, feel free to correct me). Though the undying ones weren't my favorite enemy, I still give this comic a solid A rating for art, story, and dialogue.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 10:37 AM
This issue was both fascinating and confusing to me as a kid. My older brothers owned it, but by the time I first read, it was missing the cover and first page, so it wasn't until years later that I realized that it was the very first issue of Defenders. I never knew what happened of course, because we didn't have #2 (have the Masterworks on hold at the library - over 30 years later I'll finally get to finish the story).
But it was a cool intro - Necrodamus was clearly massively powerful given who he was going against and at point it appeared that he stabbed the Hulk in the stomach.
What was really confusing were the flashback scenes you mention in references. In those, Dr Strange has his dorky-looking mask, which I had never seen before (and in fact, don't think I ever saw again until looking at this project) and I just couldn't tell what was going on.
Still, for a team that was endlessly ridiculed in Twisted Toyfare Theatre, this is actually a pretty cool beginning.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 10, 2015 12:35 PM
I thought this was a cool start for the Defenders, good mystery, offbeat foes, and a real sense of a non-team. I remember getting great satisfaction out of the Hulk taking out the Demon of the Dark with one punch. And, Necrodamus was an excellent villain, IMO. Creepy and powerful enough to give our heros a very credible fight.
I wish the series had kept this tone. The later, sillier stories didn't interest me nearly as much.
Necrodamus is an odd name. I think it's a blending of Necromancy and Nostrodamus. It works as a good ominous villan's name, but doesn't work linguistically. Necromancy is Greek and means roughly "magic/divination by means of the dead" while Nostrodamus is a Latin name which means "our lady" and refers to the Virgin Mary. Necrodamus is a combination of Latin and Greek and means something like "dead lady."
Posted by: matthew baugh | December 9, 2016 10:59 AM
Defenders represent a super-group formed from necessity rather than honor or chivalry. The fact that it was one of the few storylines Marvel was running other than Ghost Rider, that dealt with the occult and dimensional realms/characters made the Defenders all the more interesting. if Marvel had any keen insight they would parlay this into a much more evolved storyline and add Namor (who I believe Marvel has back in the stable correct me if i’m Mistaken?) along with an eventual Silver Surfer (if Marvel can secure him) and take an in depth run with these guys to the Silver screen.
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | December 12, 2017 11:22 PM
Some may not know this, but this would be the second Marvel team book to share a title with a television series. While most are familiar with the classic 60's British spy series "The Avengers", "The Defenders" was a legal drama that ran from 1961-65 and starred E.G. Marshall and a pre-"Brady Bunch" Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys who took on complex (and often controversial) cases on a weekly basis. The series won 13 Emmys in its run, and the subject matter tackled (abortion, atheism, civil rights, immigration) were well ahead of the times and still relevant today.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 23, 2018 7:56 PM
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