Namor annual #2
Issue(s): Namor annual #2
Anyway, Dr. Strange, the Hulk, and the Sub-Mariner (in Rick Jones' body) were about to raid the building of the publishing company that put out the book by Lucian Aster that has been turning people into demons when they read it. They split up, each taking their own route to the top of the building. The Hulk takes the elevator shaft, and the shoes from his strange camp counselor outfit (purchased in part one) get destroyed.
I'm pointing this out because the shoes will miraculously re-appear in the next two parts of this story.
Beyond that, each of the Defenders (so to speak) get confronted with demons. Dr. Strange fights a demonic nurse, and the Hulk fights a demonic weightlifter.
Rick/Namor, meanwhile, finds a pair of speedos that look conveniently like Namor's classic trunks.
I can't believe Namor calls Rick's body "relatively puny". Sure, he's no Atlantean super-hybrid, but relative to most humans, Rick is in extraordinary shape, as the picture shows.
But the "puny" line is actually setting up the next development. Namor goes to join the Hulk's fight, but he gets knocked into a pool by the bodybro demon, and while he's in the water he's met by his god, Neptune.
Neptune says that the main villain the Defenders are going up against is an old foe of his, and he grants Rick/Namor increased strength for the remainder of this story.
Neptune's comments led me to believe that the main villain of this story would be some ancient Greco-Roman threat, but in truth we never get a clear explanation of the villain (who kind of sucks, but more on him in the next two parts).
Anyway, Hulk and the newly invigorated Namor take out their demon, and then help Dr. Strange with his. Strange admonishes Hulk and Namor for being rough on their foes, since it turns out they were once human. The Defenders then make their way to the top of the building, where they meet Shanzar, the 'strange matter' wizard that they fought once before. And they learn that he's working for someone called the Wild One, who is trapped in another dimension.
Shanzar (who is already using Namor's body) captures Rick/Namor and departs. When the Hulk tries to follow, he winds up falling out of the building instead. Dr. Strange follows him to the ground, and they are met by the Silver Surfer, who has just arrived on Earth.
The first back-up story, which i should technically split out and place in the Golden Age era but i'm not going to because it seems to have no bearing on anything, takes place in 1943. The Sub-Mariner apparently has a girlfriend on an island on the Irish Coast named Siobhan. He goes to visit her, and gives her this horrible fish as a gift.
Siobhan turns out to not be so happy to see Namor, and we're meant to think that it's because she's actually dating someone that the story claims is Baron Blood even though he looks like a generic vampire.
Namor doesn't seem to get the whole "vampire" thing. Not only does he not seem to understand how to kill a vampire...
...but he doesn't seem to get that if someone has been bitten by a vampire, they become a thrall to the vampire, and so you shouldn't just let them walk away with the vampire on their say so.
But we all know that the truth is that this is just some guy cosplaying a vampire, and Siobhan is really dumping Namor because he thinks a nasty looking fish is the way to a girl's heart.
I didn't list the above story in the credits since i'm not "counting" it, but it's Ron Lim on pencils with Terry Austin on inks. I thought this story might be a set-up for something coming in the Namor book, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
A second back-up that i am counting for continuity purposes has Namorita encouraging the recently de-aged Spitfire to dress like a young woman. They're then approached by a man claiming to be a supermodel photographer. And at Namorita's encouragement, Spitfire agrees to be photographed by him.
Things get gross pretty quickly.
Spitfire defends herself with her super-speed, lightly beating the guy up, and then leaving. But this turns out to be the photographer's plan all along. He was hoping to get photos of Spitfire attacking him, so that he could sue her. But since Spitfire is super-fast, his pictures don't come out.
I find this whole story to be pretty bizarre. Spitfire is a high powered business executive who surely has access to top lawyers. And she's got a spotless reputation. Trying to sue her seems like a suicide mission. "Yep, there I was, trying to pull her clothes off and, frankly, getting pretty rapey, when she fought back just enough to stop me without doing any lasting harm. Where's my $5 million, please?" And why would this turn of events be enough to stop him? It's a known fact that she has super-speed, right? So the pictures pretty much prove that she was hitting him. I also don't love Tom Raney's depiction of the final scene, where you can almost hear the cartoon "whaa whaa whaaaaaa" sad trombone noise, as if it's just a funny joke that the photographer didn't get his pictures. He sexually assaulted someone; he shouldn't just be holding his head in comic disappointment while a photo of the victim winks at us as if she's had the last laugh.
A final back-up has Carrie Alexander doing a review of Namor's top villains, and as with all of these features in this year's annuals, i'm not counting it as a real story.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part two of the Return of the Defenders. Part two is in Silver Surfer annual #5.
Crossover: Return of the Defenders
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showDr. Strange, Hulk, Lucian Aster, Namorita, Neptune, Rick Jones, Shanzar, Silver Surfer, Spitfire, Sub-Mariner, Wild One
No Ron Lim listed as a penciler for this issue? Or the legend Terry Austin on inks?
James Fry is a personal favorite of mine.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | February 24, 2016 7:01 PM
He mentions them in the entry, just not at the top because he's not "counting" the backup story.
Posted by: Robert | February 24, 2016 8:01 PM
It's odd that they would use Baron Blood as the antagonist in the one story and then not use his unique (and cool) design! Why go with a generic vampire look?
Posted by: Bill | February 24, 2016 10:09 PM
I'd assume to avoid confusion with Victor Strange?
Posted by: AF | February 25, 2016 5:01 AM
Blood doesn't really work as the "seductive vampire" archetype, especially not with his original design. He's definitely more a "monster in the shadows/serial killer" kind of vampire.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 25, 2016 5:44 AM
Ahh, but this is a date, and that demands dressing for the occasion. :P
"I can't believe Namor calls Rick's body "relatively puny". Sure, he's no Atlantean super-hybrid, but relative to most humans, Rick is in extraordinary shape, as the picture shows."
In Namour's defense, that's pretty much what he said. "Relatively puny" implies he is relatively puny to his original body, which is true. If he had just said "puny" that would have been less fair. Although of course, Namour is Namour.
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 25, 2016 7:49 AM
Agreed with Omar Karindu in regards to Baron Blood. In the original Invaders stories, as penciled by Frank Robbins, Baron Blood in his human guise of John Falsworth looked very foppish, and certainly not a ruggedly macho individual who could seduce women. In his vampiric form Blood was even less of a romantic figure, appearing quite grotesque. John Byrne drew him appear even in an even more horrific manner in Captain America #253-254, giving him an emaciated physique, so much so that various characters kept underestimating just how superhumanly strong he was. So, yes, the "Baron Blood" in this back-up really looks nothing like previous depictions.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 26, 2016 2:56 PM
Okay, thinking about it a bit, I've come up with something of a solution for why Baron Blood looks so off-model in this annual.
We've seen on several occasions that Baron Blood has incredibly formidable powers of hypnosis. Perhaps here, to seduce this Siobhan woman, he used those powers to entrance her so that she perceived him as a handsome, romantic figure. You know, much like how the homely Mastermind used his illusion-casting powers to appear to Jean Grey as the suave & stylish Jason Wyngarde.
If it was 24 years ago, I would now be writing in to Terry Kavanagh asking for my No Prize :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 26, 2016 3:16 PM
Gah! Like with the Hulk Annual, both the back-ups in this one have much better art than the main story! Although at least in the Hulk Annual, the back-up story of the arm-wrestling was worth reading. The two back-up stories here are just awful but with good art.
I assume younger readers would just go right by without the reference, but everyone around my age (b. 1974) is looking at the weightlifter and his comment and thinking "Hey, Hanz and Franz!"
Posted by: Eric Beck | March 22, 2016 6:45 AM
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