I hit another Comic Book Milestone recently. I finished collecting all 152 issues of Marvel’s Defenders ! I still need some of the ‘Giant Size’ series but I’ll get ’em. For those unfamiliar the Defenders premiered in 1971’s Marvel Feature:
After 3 issues of Marvel Feature they got their own book in 1972:
The Defenders were always Marvel’s odd-ball team – if you can call them a true team at all. In fact they were referred to as the “NON-Team” -ONLY called together when something really big/bad threatened the earth. The original core members were Dr. Strange (more or less the leader of the group), the Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner. A little later Norse beauty the Valkyrie joined as well as Nighthawk. Over the years many different super-heroes quit and joined some officially and many non officially, a partial list would include Power Man (Luke Cage), Hell-Cat, Tigra, Silver Surfer, Son of Satan, Gargoyle, Moondragon & Daredevil. In contrast to the more main-stream Avengers book many of the Defenders story-lines involved the supernatural and various demonic beings. Several of the early issues tackled racism and actually had the team fighting white supremacists (ya gotta love Steve Gerber)!
Now that I have them all I’m reading them straight through in order. I’m about 30 issues in now and I stopped to read Giant Size issue 1 and the title’s 1st (and only) King-Sized Annual. 1974’s Giant Size #1 is a 68 page square-bound volume that reprints some material from Incredible Hulk #3, Sub-Mariner #41, Strange Tales #145 & Fantastic Four Annual #5. Stringing the reprinted stories together is new material where Dr. Strange’s protege Clea brings up images from the character’s past to help Valkyrie understand her team-mates better. It’s a clever idea but the coolest part for me was getting to see some early art by the great Jim Starlin. Check out this panel (click for larger scan)for a sample:
Clea and Valkyrie never looked more voluptuous!