Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Who's the Best... Defender?






32 comments:

J.A. Morris said...

I don't know that he's the best, but for most of the series, Doctor Strange was easily the most important. When the team consisted of Hulk, Namor, Strange and Valkyrie, it was always Strange who kept the non-team together or got them back together. And the Doc provided leadership in later years too, when the team had non-members like Damon Hellstrom, Hellcat, Gargoyle and Nighthawk.

Edo Bosnar said...

It's a completely equal toss-up for me between the two I consider quintessential members: Valkyrie and Nighthawk.

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Bray said...

In terms of importance I agree with Doc Strange - his presence gave the book an identity in the shadows of the MU. Occult and odd at the same time.

Later on, I have a sentimental attachment to Gargoyle. He was so warm as a character, similar in some ways to Nightcrawler. And in the the painted covers of that period, Gargoyle really looked like he belonged on some cathedral somewhere.

david_b said...

Tough, very tough question..

Agreeing with Edo on both Val and Nighthawk, both adding a strong level of team-establishment to the mix. I'd also agree on Doc Strange, especially on the early issues.

My rationale is, for what their characters **really** brought to the table early on, I'm not saying Subby/Hulk/Surfer could have been interchangeable in terms of personality, but it was Strange's world and occultic baggage that the team was essentially rooted in, and Gerber was able to latch on to, perhaps more so than Englehart who himself admits to not really understanding Strange at first.

Yes, I'd stick with those three.

William said...

When I was a kid, I always liked Nighthawk, because of the duality of his complex personality and hidden nature that often was at odds with his nobel and heroic intentions.

Naaah, I'm just kidding! I just thought he had a really cool costume. (Wish he would get a Marvel Legend figure already). They made Hellcat this year, and Valkyrie a couple of years ago. Nighthawk is all I need to complete the classic Defenders.

Humanbelly said...

Wellllllll, of course the Hulk is gonna be my favorite, but I'm not sure he was always used well enough- or at least with sensible consistency of character and power level- that I could declare him "The Best".

That first iteration of the team in Marvel Feature, with Doc, Subby, Hulk and the the later addition (Defenders #2) of the Surfer almost seems like a groovy late Silver Age creation, doesn't it? It's with the addition of Val in issue #4, and the subsequent string of new members/associate members and the final addition of Nighthawk at the end of the Nebulon story that the team really seems to become "our" Bronze Age Defenders team. The Avengers/Defenders War could even be seen as the transition point, I'd say.

And so, in keeping with the off-beat, counter-cultural, rule-breaking, Non-Team (which, I am sorry, is simply a silly, silly Non-Concept that made me roll my eyes the first time I heard it. Practically by definition, individuals who are gathered together, working toward a common purpose are a TEAM. That's what a TEAM is, regardless of any other incidental group structuring. . . ) (Oh cripes. . . what was I saying? --- Oh yes--)
. . . in the spirit of that driving non-conventionalism, I'm gonna say that there simply isn't a "Best" Defender. Each one of that core team-- Val, Kyle, Doc and Hulk-- were integral to the dynamic and the FUN of the book for the years it was at its height. Ha! so you know who the Best Defender was? A character who never actually appeared on-panel: The Elusive Gestalt-Man! Ethereal Enhancer of Creative Impact!

Yep, that's him.
PFG-- you wanna draw him up, maybe? Perhaps we'll finally make our fortune as co-creators of the next Big Thing--- another Wolverine, or perhaps even a Hypno-Hustler-!

HB

Humanbelly said...

Ooh, on a related side-note. HBSon and I used were once deeply involved in the Heroscape game system (back when he had time. . . *sigh*), and we created a BUNCH of super-hero teams, using custom cards that other fans had produced. Let me tell ya-- in the Marvel Universe, if you had a team that included Doc Strange, the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and the Silver-flippin'-Surfer as the heavyweights, there really wasn't much any other collection of heroes could do to corral them. Hard to find credible challenges, I'd say--

HB

Anonymous said...

The Red Guardian, obviously (duh)

-sean

Anonymous said...

Cloud, for sure.

RobAnderson said...

I've got to agree with Edo - Valkyrie and Nighthawk. If I recall correctly, Valkyrie was featured on the splash of the first issue I bought (Defenders #5), and I was always a fan thereafter. Loved the Steve Gerber storyline later where she was figuring out her identity. And Nighthawk was a long-time favorite, back to appearances in the Avengers...and then in #13, one of my childhood favorite issues (and that Gil Kane cover is still one of my all-time favorites).

Humanbelly said...

The book definitely wouldn't have lasted much longer without the both of them. They both created opportunities for the deeper, on-going, character-driven subplots that were really Marvel's forte-- filling the same niche as Hawkeye, Vision, and Scarlet Witch in the Avengers. It gave the writers characters of their "own" that they could grow & change & delve deeply into without it effecting the continuity of someone's solo book. And both of them became "forgotten" characters so quickly, too, which was such a shame. I was particularly fond of Kyle because he wasn't an innately Alpha-leader personality. . . but had the sense of duty, responsibility, and organization of one. In spite of the Wayne Foundation-like pile of wealth, he was always one of the most "regular" people of Marvel's stable of heroes. Tough to write over the long haul I bet, though-- thus the tinkering with his power set, putting him in a wheelchair (bit of a shark-jump, that), and trending him towards prickliness. . .

Hey. . . what about Angel & Iceman & the Beast? How, uh, could we be overlooking them. . . ? (heh)

HB

HB

Anonymous said...

I wasn't a big fan of the "New" Deenders, but I guess Beast was the best of that bunch. For the classic team, I'd go with Valkyrie and Hellcat. Their friendship developed slowly, but it felt natural; they weren't similar personality-wise, but it seemed to work...it felt "real" when they were just hanging out and their differences seemed to complement each other.

Mike Wilson

jeirich said...

Nighthawk, for the costume, odd powers and one of the most disturbing (to my early adolescent mind) storylines of the mid- to late 70's, "Nighthawk's Brain," which, IIRC, then morphed into the Bozo story with Nebulon.

Steve Gerber seriously warped my childhood.

Kirk Cekada said...

While I think Iceman would have made a great addition to the classic lineup (Strange, Hulk, Val, etc.), I didn't care for the New Defenders lineup. It was a misguided attempt to make the team something it wasn't. Maybe Valkyrie is the best Defender -- as she was part of the team the longest -- and was kinda created just to be part of the team. Maybe a better description for her is the essential Defender. But Strange was also very important -- and often the impetus for a mission. Nighthawk and Hellcat added that regular person perspective that the rest of the team was missing -- so they were also important. Wouldn't have minded seeing more of relationship between Patsy and Kyle that was hinted at by David Anthony Kraft. For the most part, the series never got back on track after Kraft's run. And I echo the need for a Marvel Legends Nighthawk. Was really expecting that to be announced at SDCC 2015.

dbutler16 said...

Hellcat, because she was fun and cheerful, always important, especially in a Marvel comic.
Dr. Strange, however, was the glue that held the early Defenders together, so he'd be my second choice.
Gargoyle was an interesting addition, and the ex X-Men triumvirate was actually the reason I finally became a regular follower of the Defenders, back in the day.

Anonymous said...

1. Beast

2. Valkyrie

3. Devil-Slayer


on a side-note, I recently thought about which B- and C- Listers from the "Defenders for a Day" arc (c. #62-64) have received the Marvel Legends action figure treatment. Still waiting for Stingray and Nighthawk...the VALKYRIE figure I recently added helped me realize a real DEFENDERS grouping! Personally, I like to think the Marvel Universe heroes and villains could have ended @ Contest of Champions, or maybe the (awesome) cover of Fantastic Four Roast! I mean, has Marvel REALLY added any interesting characters since the mid-80s??? Cable, Gambit, and Bishop SUCK!!!!

starfoxxx

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, Dr Strange and Gargoyle were cool, too.


starfoxxx

Rip Jagger said...

I'm a big Nighthawk fan, have been since he first appeared as part of the Squadron Sinister. His turn with the Defenders, his spiffy new costume and his eventual fall were the core of the Defenders story lines for many many issues.

Rip Off

Humanbelly said...

This is also reminding me of the enjoyably consistent nicknames that the Hulk had for everybody on the core team during his time. I always found it both endearing and enlightening when used well, both here and in Greenskin's own mag. Not a trait that was front and center. . . but it shaded his interactions in such an endearing way.

Sword-Girl = Valkyrie
Fish-Man = Namor (could anything so hilariously un-regal?)
Bird-Nose = Nighthawk (my favorite-- pretty hard to strike fear during a melee when yer teammate keeps callin' ya "Bird-Nose")
Magician/Dumb Magician (depending on the current mood) = Dr. Strange
Bug-Man = Spidey (which we say in Marvel Team-up, actually)

Don't remember off-hand if he had a moniker for the Surfer. "Shiny-Man" or "Silver Man" would be my best guess.

Ha! SF-- Devil Slayer?? Hoo-boy, I'd forgotten he was a character, even! I have to say that I was kind of excited about the New Defenders with a chunk of the Old X-Men in it. . . but the book just never took off. I think Peter Gillis' writing wasn't too bad-- but lordy he was just shackled with Don Perlin's completely uninspiring, stiff, dull visuals. Hmm-- the OPPOSITE of a gestalt, in fact.

HB

Anonymous said...

Hmm I wasn't a fan of the new Defenders with Gargoyle, Iceman and the rest; for me, the classic Defenders team was the core of Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hulk and Doc Strange. 'Best' Defender? Hmm dunno how you classify that. To me the quintessential Defender is a two way between Doc Strange and Nighthawk. Strange was the glue that held the team together and defacto leader, Nighthawk had that way cool costume! Like the Vision on the Avengers, Nighthawk is the first person besides Strange who pops into my head when someone mentions the Defenders. I have to admit, though, Valykyrie also gets a strong vote here too.


- Mike 'defender of the hamburger' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Martinex1 said...

I'm late to the party but have to put my vote in for Nighthawk and Valkyrie. I liked Nighthawk for his everyman status despite his wealth. It was interesting to see a hero who wasn't always competent and who could be frustrated. He was a leader for sure, but had the same struggle many leaders, supervisors, and managers have...that not everybody sees situations and processes the same way. And if you throw in strong and knowledgeable teammates, leadership can be challenging. I think the Defenders exemplified this better than any other book. They were a non-team because how can anybody truly lead the Hulk, Dr Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor. Those are some strong willed folks. In the Avengers, everybody followed Cap, but the Defenders were true individuals. I also don't recall Kyle dwelling on his villainous past which was a nice change compared to other reformed heroes.

Gargoyle came across much later, and at times got on my nerves because of his constant whining, but really it was an interesting idea to have an aged character saddled with both the powers and the countenance. I was always hopeful there would have been better stories around the character.

At some point I will have to pick up a back issue of the Demon Slayer series from Atlas Seaboard to see if the Devil Slayer character clearly evolved out of that book as they say.

Martinex1 said...

Should have said "Demon Hunter" from Atlas Seaboard.

Dougie said...

Nighthawk was the glue that held the Defenders together but I always wanted to see more of the Red Guardian, before she went "Kozmic". I have a hankering now to re-read the first issue of the New Defenders, a team even less popular than the Detroit League.

Edo Bosnar said...

Interesting to see the Red Guardian mentioned. Sean, I don't know if you're being facetious, but I really liked Red Guardian's appearances in the Defenders during Gerber's run. Her friendship with Luke Cage was particularly interesting. If she had stuck around longer, she probably would have been another contender for best Defender in my book.

Colin Bray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenn Dunn said...

Wong. (Looking at Edo Bosnar's reply it occurred to me that there has yet to be a group called "The Contenders".)

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, not a bad idea, Kenn. I can just see the house ad now:

The Defenders? Yeah, right.
The Champions? As if.
Make way for:
Red Guardian!
Black Goliath!
White Tiger!
Silver Surfer!
(...and any other color-coded heroes without a sustainable solo series or team-book to call home...)
They're going to make something of themselves! They're gonna be: The Contenders!
(Also appearing in their fabulous first issue: Yellowjacket and Scarlet Witch!)

Anonymous said...

Rest assured Edo, I love the Red Guardian for real; not the most appearances, but still the best.
Otherwise... its Val - that's obvious too. I have to say, I'm a bit baffled by all the love for Nighthawk....

-sean

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

Oh, darn. I really didn't keep up with the Defenders after the departure of David Anthony Kraft as the writer. But up to that point I'd have to say that my favorite character in the book wasn't a hero but rather Jack Norris, husband to Barbara Norris whose body was currently occupied by the Valkyrie. When allowed to be so he was a very competent individual. An unusual occurrence for supporting roles.

Hey Humanbelly, trying to visualize what Gestalt-Man would look like. If my current mental state continues you'll be hearing from my lawyer.

We need a new super hero group but all the cool names have been taken because all I could come up with were these;

The Competents.

The Honorable Mentions.

The Also Rans.

The We're Not Quite As Good At This Sort Of Thing As, Say, The Great Lake Avengers But You Do Seem To Be In Trouble And Beggars Can't Be Choosers!!

Seeya,

pfgavigan

Anonymous said...

Dr. Strange- he was the team dad/ shrink/unofficial leader/only sane man.

Collecting Steve Gerber Defenders comics was so much fun. They were so off the wall, I had no idea what I'd be reading issue to issue.

- Mike Loughlin

Dr. Oyola said...

Nighthawk or Hulk for me.

I have also long thought that if Wolverine was ever gonna be on a non-X team the Defenders made a lot more sense for a character like him than the Avengers ever could. The team of loners... the Lone Rangers, if you like. ;)

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