Issue(s): Defenders #17, Defenders #18, Defenders #19
This upsets Nighthawk, who just spent a lot of money building a headquarters for the Defenders, including Justice League style chairs for all the members (including an adamantium chair for the Hulk).
Dr. Strange casts an enchantment on Valkyrie's sword before she leaves to help her with her secret identity.
Then Nighthawk gets a call from his business manager Pennyworth, who informs him that a group called the Wrecking Crew has been destroying his buildings. Nighthawk and Strange travel to the only remaining building to catch the Wrecking Crew.
They get attacked by Luke Cage, who has been hired by Pennyworth to guard it.
In the fight, when Nighthawk threatens to give Luke Cage black eyes, Cage responds "Too late, joker! My eyes came black -- like the rest of me!".
After the misunderstanding fight, the Wrecking Crew show up, and they are, of course, awesome.
Especially Bulldozer, who looks like Ram-Man in his first appearance.
The Wrecker shared his powers with his fellow prison escapees by having them stand near his Norn Queen-enchanted crowbar while it gets hit by lightning. Since they are mystical in origin, Dr. Strange isn't easily able to defeat them. Nighthawk is of course no match for anyone, so the two Defenders and Luke Cage have a real fight on their hands.
Strange traps them in a mystical bubble, but the Hulk shows up and, trying to help his friends, starts pounding on a mystical barrier that Strange erected to prevent the Crew from escaping. The extra strain causes Strange to pass out, but of course now the Wrecking Crew has the Hulk to contend with.
However, the Crew break off the fight when they realize that the nuclear device they've been looking for is missing from its case. The story is that Thunderball - then just Dr. Franklin - used to be a brilliant nuclear physicist (people used to call him the "black Bruce Banner"). He developed a gamma bomb that was small enough to hold in his hand but ten times more powerful than the original. He was working for Richmond Enterprises at the time, and Pennyworth claimed ownership of the bomb. This is meant to show that Pennyworth and/or corporate policies governing creative ownership are unfair, but although he claimed to build the bomb on his own time, his notes and the bomb itself were actually at his office at work, which says to me that he probably was doing his research on company time. In any event, Franklin stole the bomb, but dropped it in a vat of molten steel while being pursued by security guards. The steel was eventually used to create Richmond's buildings, hence the Wrecking Crew's destruction of them in an attempt to retrieve the bomb (couldn't Franklin have just built another one? I recognize that he didn't have his notes anymore but you'd think since he designed it all by himself he'd be able to re-create it.). But it seems someone else has already found the bomb and if it isn't found soon, it could detonate, killing everyone in New York City.
Thunderball is given more intelligent sounding dialogue than his teammates, reflecting the fact that he is a scientist and not a working class guy like the others.
Scenes involving Nighthawk's business manager Pennyworth have been careful to either not show him at all or use ambiguous coloring, but the panels in Thunderball's flashbacks depict a white man's hand. Pennyworth will actually turn out to be black, so this is a coloring mistake.
While the Defenders naively stand around trying to figure out how to locate the bomb, the Wrecking Crew sneak attack them and knock them all out.
After they wake up, the Defenders trace the Wrecking Crew by having Dr. Strange lock on to the Wrecker's crowbar's mystical signal. The trail leads them to Harlem where (after Dr. Strange pauses to provide a gourmet dinner to a homeless man)...
...a young kid comes up to Luke Cage to tell him that a group of super-goons are wrecking their Harlem Boy's Club. Not realizing that the kid is holding the bomb, they go after the Wrecking Crew and destroy the Club in a fight.
Dr. Strange uses his magic to seemingly banish the Wrecker's crowbar.
However, the bomb has been triggered. Strange hypnotizes the Hulk to turn him back into Banner, who is given absolutely no time to orient himself before having to defuse the bomb. Poor guy.
This was a fun story. As always, i enjoy seeing the Hulk interact with a group, and the Wrecking Crew are a cool bunch of super-villains. It was nice seeing Luke Cage as well.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: In between leaving and rejoining the Defenders, the Hulk stars in Marvel Team-Up #27, meaning that that issue essentially takes place at the same time as the second half of Defenders #17 and the first half of Defenders #18. Code of Honor #1 shows this issue taking place before Falcon fights the Dominus robots in Captain America #178.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (14): show
I could never figure out why Dr. Strange didn't banish the gamma bomb as well. Chris Claremont also worked on the last issue.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 10, 2011 5:54 AM
Updated the credits to include Claremont. Thanks!
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2011 4:39 PM
This was Len Wein's last issue before Steve Gerber takes over. Gerber didn't want to be on Daredevil anymore, so he approached Len on trading titles. Len wanted Daredevil more than the Defenders(which he didn't feel like quitting initially), so he agreed. Gerber stayed on the Defenders for nearly 2 years until Gerry Conway yanked it away from him. Len was on Daredevil for just half an issue, probably because EIC duties took him away.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 20, 2011 1:26 PM
The Wrecking Crew were one of my favorite Super Villain Groups and this was a great slam bang fun fest. The C grade is much too low, I have to rate these issues all A's for the art, story and dialogue.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 3:19 PM
Wait, Nighthawk has an employee named Pennyworth? And Luke Cage calls him "joker"? I love the JLA in Marvel concept but that may be taking it a bit too far.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 5, 2015 6:28 PM
Of all the super-villain teams marvel has created, the "Wrecking Crew" has an opportunity to shine (even if only for an obscure run-in fight scene) in a Marvel Studios Film. Hopefully we get a taste of these very Bad men in the Defenders series on Netflix!
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | May 3, 2015 11:16 PM
Heck, all the Wrecking Crew guys have marginally distinctive personalities for several years, until they turn into "face int he crowd" villains sometime in the mid-1990s. The Wrecker is the standard-issue street-smart thug, Thunderball is the smart schemer, Bulldozer is a Southerner, and Piledriver is dumber than the others and has a New Joisey accent.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 22, 2015 6:02 PM
Not only is Piledriver the dumbest and the only one of the Crew to not get a cool weapon, but Sal Buscema gives him an extra dose of open-mouth saliva. Poor sap just can't catch a break, I suppose.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 24, 2017 10:57 AM
You can never really tell when that well formed spit wad of a loogie will fly off of Piledrivers lip. These Wrecking Crew guys just lend a certain Low Life sheik and uncomfortability, that really needs more exploitation in comics and movies
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | May 11, 2018 11:34 PM
Excuse me I meant Low Life Chic= Wrecking Crew.... Am correcting my Middle Eastern grammatical error above
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | May 11, 2018 11:37 PM
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