Issue(s): Defenders #52, Defenders #53, Defenders #54, Defenders #55, Defenders #56
He soon transforms into a classic Kirby-esque big headed villain, as well.
Meanwhile, the Sub-Mariner shows up in New York, causes quite a stir among the general populace, and gets into a fight with the Hulk, who thought he was coming to Namor's rescue.
Peter Parker makes a brief cameo where he is shown stuck in a crowd, unable to help out in the Namor/Hulk fight. The FF and the Avengers are not home during the battle.
Subby was heading to the Baxter Building to ask the FF to help him with a new Atlantean problem, but when the Hulk and the other Defenders show up, he realizes that he could use their help instead (it's unspoken, but going to the FF for help probably grates on his pride anyway). Namor at first acts like he barely remembers the Defenders, including his less than delicate handling of the Hulk's initial greeting.
Valkyrie, still at school, lunching with Clea, and getting into fights with a 'wacky' vigilante Lunatik, does not go with the other Defenders.
It turns out that the Atlantean's problem relates directly to the Red Guardian's, conveniently enough. Radiation poisoning from the Presence's experiments have been seeping into the ocean. The team battles the Presence in Russia and the possessed Red Guardian.
The Presence is definitely up there in the power league, with both the Hulk and Namor having a difficult time with him. Hellcat and Nighthawk are, of course, completely useless, with Nighthawk accidentally summoning an undersea behemoth...
...that winds up distracting the Hulk for the whole fight...
...until, as a lucky coincidence, the Hulk knocks it down and it lands on the Presence.
That ends the fight, but as Cecil notes in the comments, the characters talk for a while after that, with the Red Guardians recriminations towards the Presence causing him to give up fighting and leave.
'So big, so fast' alert: Nighthawk on the behemoth: "For something so big, it sure moves fast! I almost got my wings clipped!"
With the fight over, the Defenders are still in trouble because they are sick with radiation poisoning and surrounded by Russian troops. Luckily the Hulk has transformed back into Bruce Banner, who is able to convince the Russians to allow him to operate to help his friends.
The story also focuses on the political diplomacy aspect of American super-heroes having been captured in the Soviet Union, which is interesting.
The plotting and dialogue in these issues is generally pretty good. However, the art deteriorates. It's clear from the shifting credits that there were production problems of one sort or another. The worst issue is #56, where Klaus Janson's inks do not complement Carmine Infantino's pencils at all. The result is a sketchy blotchy mess. This too may be the result of deadline problems, since both artists are generally good.
Kraft also apparently has problems with deadlines. Both issues #53 and #54 are truncated and supplemented with back-up stories. He also acknowledges the help of other writers, including Don McGregor, although they are not formally given credit and it is unclear exactly what they did. There are a lot of people on pencil duties as well, but the art still has a consistent look to it, and it's got some pretty interesting layouts as well, reminding me of Klaus Janson's Jungle Action at times. It doesn't feel rushed.
Issue #53 has a Clea back-up story by Naomi Basner/Sandy Plunkett/Tony Salmons. She fights a mugger who turns out to be a mystic that kidnaps her, drains her magical powers, and then tries to have sex with her before she beats him over the head with a statue and calls Dr. Strange for help.
Between this and the Red Guardian/Presence relationship, there's a lot of sex slave stuff going around.
Issue #54 has a Nick Fury back-up story by Scott Edelman/Juan Ortiz/Bruce D. Patterson. It has Fury fighting a bunch of out of control Fury LMDs.
It's treated kind of jokingly, but leaves open the possibility that SHIELD may have a problem keeping their LMDs under control.
The cover to issue #53 looks a lot like the cover to Uncanny X-Men #101. I assumed it was because Cockrum was drawing the issue, but it turns out the cover is actually by Perez.
Issue #54 has a letter from future writer Peter Gillis, praising the Scorpio arc. His letter is insightful and actually helped me appreciate the arc a little better.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nighthawk's jetpack, smashed in issue #51 by the Ringer, is still broken in this arc, so no appearances of Nighthawk where he flies should appear in between. Dr. Strange does not appear in these issues, placing this essentially concurrently with Strange's disappearance in his own series prior to his return in Dr. Strange #24, with the little Clea back-up story taking place after he's returned. The Hulk has a gap in his own series' timeline where he appears in the Champions. His appearances here can fit there as well. The Sub-Mariner appears here after Super-Villain Team-Up #13.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Much of Lunatik's dialogue in his first appearance is taken from song lyrics from such bands as Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 16, 2011 8:07 PM
Lunatik was supposedly the inspiration for DC's Lobo, but there really isn't much similarity besides the face makeup.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 27, 2011 11:38 AM
Unused Giffen pages from #53 were published in FOOM#19.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 1:55 AM
And also Dave Kraft's original plot.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 1:55 AM
According to Scott Edelman in Comics Journal #107, Naomi Basner started as a high school intern in the production department. Jim Shooter plotted the Clea story and had Naomi just dialogue it, in order to "limit how much she could screw it up". Naomi kept pitching plots for stories, only to have every one rejected except for a Charlie-27 solo story drawn by Carl Potts that, as of 1986, was never finished. Naomi gave up comics and was still so angry over her treatment that she couldn't even write it down for inclusion in the mid-1980s book "Women and the Comics".
All those 5-page backups were done to alleviate lateness problems.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 20, 2014 7:44 PM
It is weird how Namor does not even recognize Nighthawk (who, granted, is in a different new costume) after personally suggesting him as his replacement in the Defenders in #14 - http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/defenders_14.shtml
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 15, 2014 9:51 PM
It's so weird, after all of Infantino's iconic work for DC to just scroll down a page and come upon a random panel of his artwork. It's so easy to identify that it always stops me cold and makes me think, what the hell is Carmine Infantino doing pencilling a random issue of Defenders?
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 22, 2015 6:33 PM
Giffen actually turned in random pages he chose to draw, leading to quite a bit of fun in Goodwin's department. But he's a really talented and creative guy. I'm glad he quit selling Kirby vacuum cleaners and came back to draw Kirby-esque machines. I feel like the style of story in this run becomes echoed in his best-selling approach at DC on JLI with J.M. DeMatteis (a later Defenders scribe, in a rather serious mode that didn't hint at his wacky weekend pizza party-style scripts with Giffen).
I'm sorry this didn't quite gel as planned, because a late 70's revisit to the Soviets marks an interesting detente in comparison to the Commies of Classic Marvel.
I thought the cinematic double bill of The Man Who Fell To Earth and Death Wish was a subtle foreshadowing of the essence of Valkyrie and Lunatik.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | May 1, 2016 5:16 PM
Whoa, horsey! That behemoth landing on The Presence isn't the end of the fight - I just read this again for the first time in years- if you take another look, Red Guardian plays an important part in the actual ending of #55, which also sets her up with a new status quo. I know she doesn't go on to be a very major player, but Tania has a pretty interesting concept and point of view-in a precisely 70's sort of fashion! Too bad there was little market, without careful ties to the rest of the MU, for a title about her.
Posted by: Cecil | May 5, 2016 4:36 AM
Added a note. Thanks Cecil.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 5, 2016 8:16 AM
In Comics Journal #236, David Kraft stated that Keith Giffen made the initial proposal for the Lunatik character, but left the book before he could do anything artwise with it. When it came time to debut him, Kraft had to design Lunatik's appearance himself and provide it to the artist. Apparently Giffen came back to Marvel at some point during 1993-2001 and totally revamped him, which Kraft considered "disrespectful".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 15, 2016 11:04 AM
Welll...sort of. Giffen came back and created a character named Lunatik, and had him kill one of the Defenders "Lunatiks" for using the same name as him.
The Giffen Lunatik was essentially like his co-creation Lobo over at DC, but who knows of that was Giffen's plan back in the 1970s. Lobo was veery different when he first showed up in Omega Men, to the point that Giffen later disavowed that version of the character.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 15, 2016 7:02 PM
There are some interesting newspaper headlines in the subway scene in #53, probably from Terry Austin:
"Cary(?)Bates writes again"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 2, 2018 1:03 PM
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