Friday, June 18, 2010
Badoon Go Home!: Guardians of the Galaxy part 4
Defenders #29 (November 1975)
"Let My Planet Go!"
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sal Buscema/Vince Colletta
Karen: This is our final review in this Guardians of the Galaxy storyline which ran through the Defenders. What I find so amazing about this storyline is that it is both conventional and highly unconventional, all at the same time. The familiar super-hero cliches are still here, and yet, there's a real eccentricity to it. But in a very readable and enjoyable way.
Doug: It's intergalactic, yet homey -- it's a hodgepodge of images from previous stories and sources. And the freedom-fighter aspect holds it together nicely. There's a real sense of purpose throughout.
Karen: We pick up the action with a Badoon firing squad about to blast Nighthawk, Charlie-27, and Martinex. Valkyrie and Vance Astro have been teleported to the scene by the astral form of Dr. Strange. They stop the execution and the combined heroes attack the Badoon.
Doug: Yes, it's all a little too convenient, but the sense of urgency with which the heroes burst forth from this scene is still strongly suspenseful.
Karen: Back on the planet of the drunks, the Hulk and one of King Goozot's wives, who strangely enough found herself attracted to Hulk, are transported to an icy land, all as a part of the bizarre game show from last issue. It's fun to see the old, childlike Hulk here. Personally I've had too much of the modern, mass murdering Hulk.
Doug: "Hulk's name is "Hulk" -- not stupid "Mr. Green". But Hulk will help girl." Vintage...
Karen: He and the girl are attacked by robotic bugs, but of course, Hulk eventually destroys them all, bringing down a mountain to boot! Just as Hulk is about to smash show host "Mon-Tee", he and Yondu are teleported to Earth to join the fight with their team-mates.
Doug: There was a nice little hydra motif to the bugs -- the more Hulk smashed, the more there were.
Karen: Back on the Guardians' ship, Strange comes out of his trance and finds a stowaway - Jack Norriss, the husband of Valkyrie's mortal form, Barbara Norriss. Seems Jack sneaked aboard the ship before they took off to stay close to Val. Now he tells Strange that he wants to help in the fight against the Badoon. Unfortunately, here's where I feel like the wheels came off a bit. Strange and Norriss travel to Badoon-controlled prisons all over Earth, freeing the humans in each place, allowing them to attack their oppressors. It sort of makes the rest of the team members seem unnecessary, but then, that's always a problem when you have such powerful characters - whether it be Dr. Strange or the Surfer or Superman or the Spectre - on a team book. As Norriss says to Strange, "You could've zapped the Badoon off the face of the Earth all by yourself, couldn't you? Why--?" "It would have rendered all the years of enslavement meaningless, even if it were within my power," Strange replies. Still, it felt a bit like a 'deus ex machina' ending to me.
Doug: I totally agree with you. I also found it a bit uncomfortable that Strange allowed the now-free prisoners to work their will on the Badoon. I was left wondering about any sense of justice, of whether or not there should have been some way of meting out a punishment beyond death. I just felt that Strange had all of this power to change the course of this history, yet when it further degenerated into more slaughter, he chose sides and allowed it to happen on the human-vs.-Badoon side.
Karen: We get a few more scenes with Starhawk -"the one who knows" -sheesh, that's almost as maddening as Mantis' "this one"- and the suggestion that he will accompany the Guardians in their quest to free Earth. Doc rather unceremoniously transports the Defenders back to Earth circa 1975, which ticks off Nighthawk, who wanted to finish the job back in the future. I have to say it was a bit unsatisfying to me. But the overall story was very engaging, and it certainly compelled me to read the Guardians series that ran in Marvel Presents.
Doug: You're right -- if Gerber was charged with selling books, he certainly set us up with a story that ended right in the middle. I really can't recall if I had too many of the Marvel Presents issues -- I'm sure I had at least one. I thought the real mystery here that was left hanging was when Starhawk visited his seeming "home", was embraced by children, and we met Aleta for the first time. That's the dangling plot thread that made me want more.
Doug: I really enjoyed this look back. The first time we inspected the Defenders was in their earliest appearances in Marvel Feature. By this time the team had hit its stride with the line-up I was most familiar with from my childhood, and Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema provided a solid story that for the most part was well-delivered. Truly, this was the second Marvel Age of Comics!