Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Having A Badoon Day: Guardians of the Galaxy, part 2
Defenders 27 (Sept. 1975)
"Three Worlds to Conquer!"
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sal Buscema/Vince Colletta
Karen: First things first: I hate spoilers, and this cover has a big one, which isn't even revealed in this issue! What the heck was up with that?
Doug: No idea, but you sure are right. Without the word balloon it would have been OK. I wonder why Len Wein (series editor) approved the copy?
Karen: Maybe he didn't. Who knows? But to get back to our story: The Defenders and the Guardians, aboard the starship The Captain America, have managed to travel forward in time to the Guardian's era of 3015 AD. They enter Earth's orbit and are about to teleport down to the planet, when the alien conquerors, the reptillian Badoon, detect them and disrupt their teleportation beams, sending Hulk, Vance Astro, Yondu, and Valkyrie off to planets in the far reaches of space!
Doug: Many of the conventions of recent science fiction were in this scene. Anyone with any knowledge of pop culture during and prior to the mid-1970's was sure to know what was going on, just by looking around Sal's panel work.
Karen: Oh yeah, well I've always thought a lot of Marvel comics, particularly the early stuff Stan, Jack, and Ditko did, were influenced by the sci fi films of the 50s and 60s. The teleport tubes on the Guardian's spaceship did remind me of the stasis tubes on the spaceship seen in the film This Island Earth. Unfortunately though, the aliens here are the Badoon, who were always one of the worst-looking alien groups in the Marvel Universe. I mean, they just look silly! Particularly with those little forked tongues popping out of their mouths.
Doug: I've always been indifferent toward the Badoon. The one thing I really don't like about them is that they all always have their mean-face on. Sal never gave them a pensive look, a quizzical look, nothing -- just straightforward sour grapes! So that certainly serves to give them less depth.
Karen: Our heroes teleportation goes haywire and Astro and Valkyrie wind up on a strange, swampy world, while Hulk and Yondu arrive on a degenerate medieval-type world. Val and Astro are attacked by strange lizard-monkey creatures, and Val feels pain whenever she strikes one of the critters. Astro manages to drive off the attackers with his psionic blasts, but Val is in bad shape. Suddenly, a strange glowing being appears, and offers help.
Doug: For whatever reason, I thought the world that Hulk and Yondu went to was reminscent of the time the FF were stuck on that Skrull world where everything was like a gangster film. Hulk and Yondu seemed like they were stuck in a Mel Brooks movie! And don't you love how Hulk calls Yondu "Flag-head"?
Karen: It was a nice pairing by Gerber. On the other planet, the two teams' most primitive members try to make sense of what they are seeing. People wander around drunk and disheveled. As Hulk notes, "Nothing is right here! People laugh--dance--sing--! But people look stupid-not happy!" The two save a woman who is being attacked, only to have her angrily rebuff them. Our two confused heroes are then confronted by a group of robot soldiers, which the Hulk easily destroys. However, this brings out the robots' "mother", a bizarre-looking contraption, which screams, "You killed my babies!" And zaps the two into unconsciousness. Even in a typical superhero fight, Gerber always managed to throw in some weirdness!
Karen: In the meantime, the Defenders and Guardians still on the starship are trying to figure out where their comrades have gone. They hook Dr. Strange up to the ship's scanners to vastly increase their power. There's a really nice shot of Strange here, his mind reaching out across the cosmos. Well done Sal! The Badoon detect this increase in power on the ship and determine that they must have it, and prepare to send troops over to get it.
Doug: Fully agree on the large panel of Strange. You know, I never read the Defenders past the late '70's, so to me Sal is "the" artist of this title. As we've said in many recent posts, he's just a solid, reliable artist. You can always seen John's influence on him, yet Sal has enough of his own nuances to separate himself. And a comment on Vince Colletta's inks: Last issue I disagreed with you as to Vinnie's impact on the story. You didn't like it, I did (especially his work on Valkyrie). I did comment that I felt Colletta was the wrong guy for the Hulk and Charlie-27 and that's where I arrive at his work on this issue. Still feel that way, and overall I'll go along with you that Sal's pencils suffer a bit here under Vince Colletta's influence. In this issue it's not a good marriage.
Karen: Back on the swamp planet, the mysterious glowing being -"the giver of the light" - uses his powers to heal Valkyrie. As his glow decreases, we get our first real glimpse at Starhawk, who declares that both Val and Astro are in his debt.
Doug: So I'm reading this and I'm thinking "Wow -- how Christlike". Then he drops the debt bomb.
Karen: Ha! Yes, not exactly the Good Samaritan here, was he? Back on Drunk-world, The Hulk and Yondu are under the mental control of the funky robot, and are brought before the ruler of the city, a grossly fat man named Goozot (no I did not make that up). Goozot is a human Jabba the Hutt! He decides that it would be amusing to have the two put into the arena.
Doug: Do you think George Lucas read this arc? There are several things that could have influenced him, most notably in this issue the red swamp world -- reminded me of Degobah, homeworld of Yoda.
Karen: I think Lucas must have read a lot of comics...but then Star Wars is chock full of influences. The issue ends with the Captain America being boarded by large band of Badoon, and Dr. Strange is still unconscious, attached to the computers. It's up to Nighthawk, Charlie-27, and Martinex to repulse the invaders! Talk about leaving us hanging.