Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Female Trouble: Guardians of the Galaxy, part 3
Defenders #28 (Oct. 1975)
"My Mother, the Badoon!"
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: Sal Buscema
Inkers: Frank Giacoia and John Tartaglione
Karen: Welcome back to the third part of our Defenders/Guardians review. You may have noticed the unusual title for this issue - another sign of Steve Gerber's sense of humor. It has to be a reference to what some people consider to be the worst TV show of all time, My Mother the Car. Sadly, I have never seen this show but its legend lives on.
Doug: Nope, I've not seen it either. However, I do recall Car 54, Where Are You? with a young Fred Gwynne co-starring before he went on to fame in The Munsters!
Karen: I particularly like the cover to this issue: it's a great design, with small shots of each Defender in action (even if they are somewhat misleading), and a spectacular full-body shot of Starhawk, who was a brand new character when the issue premiered.
Doug: This was a motif applied often in the Bronze Age -- not always successfully. But here it is nice, for all the reasons you state.
Karen: Anyway, on to our comic: when we last left our heroes, the Captain America was being boarded by the nasty Badoon while Dr. Strange sat unconscious, hooked up to the ship's computers. Martinex, Nighthawk, and Charlie-27 (who is now wearing a mask for some reason) make a valiant effort but Nighthawk winds up getting captured and the two Guardians stand down to save his life. Boy, I have to say, I always wondered what the heck Nighthawk was doing on a team with Dr. Strange and the Hulk. Seriously, the guy can fly and is twice as strong at night. That's it. Don't get me wrong, I did like his personality, but power-wise, he was unnecessary.
Doug: When you look at the roster of the early Defenders, including those members you stated as well as Namor and the Surfer, I suppose Nighthawk was the "usual joe" that rubes like me could relate to. Plus he had a cool costume! I am glad they didn't play out any sort of inferiority complex with him, though.
Karen: The Badoon take notice of Dr. Strange, who has used his astral form to locate the missing Vance Astro and Valkyrie. They are now in the company of the mysterious being known as Starhawk. They discover that they are on the homeworld of the Badoon -which is now populated entirely by the female of the species! The creatures who attacked them in the previous issue were females driven mad by a mating lust. It seems many centuries prior the two sexes split, as neither could stand the other -more commentary from Gerber or just a joke? In any case the females are nothing like the warlike males, although they are relatively apathetic. I had to laugh at the way the 'civilized' females were portrayed by Sal Buscema. Although reptilian, they have hair -and the queen has quite a bouffant !
Doug: Sometimes backstory or origin-type exposition is lame or seemingly unnecessary, but in this issue and the last couple Gerber's "storytelling" has been fun. It's really been well-done. And you're right about Sal -- funny stuff. I imagine some of these guys just hated drawing certain types of characters and had to amuse themselves to get through the assignment.
Karen: Back on the starship, the Badoon find Dr. Strange and assume he is dead, but in reality, his life signs have just dropped to a minimum as he voyages in his astral form. The badoon take Nighthawk, Charlie, and Martinex to Earth to execute them.
Doug: Isn't that a staple of being a bad guy? Never, ever off an enemy on the spot. Transport them, come up with some sort of torture device, even let 'em go just to mess with their heads. This is perfect!
Karen: Doc sends his astral form out to find Hulk and Yondu, who are forced into televised combat on what previously appeared to be a world of medieval-level development. I'm sure the temptation to insert Monty Hall into a Defenders story was too great for Gerber. Yondu fights some hot-rodding robots and destroys them. We'll have to wait for next issue to see what old Greenskin does.
Doug: I really enjoyed this scene. For some reason I like Yondu -- he's very visually-appealing. The whistling-with-the-arrows deal is sort of weird, but I like the costume and love the fin on his head! I couldn't help but think of all the "Planet Hulk" stuff when I saw Jade Jaws in that suit of armor.
Karen: As the issue comes to a close, Strange manages to mystically transport Astro and Val to Earth, right in time to see their compatriots face a badoon firing squad!
Doug: Like I said, shoulda deep-sixed 'em when ya had the chance.
Karen: Another fun issue, although I felt this one dragged a bit in comparison to the previous two. Still, it reminds me of why I enjoyed Marvel Comics so much in the 70s: there's a sense that anything can happen. It's fun and exciting, but also provocative. Gerber manages to inject a lot of social commentary into his stories, but still keep them entertaining.
Doug: I agree -- this series we're looking at is a case of a writer and artist clicking. There aren't any glitches here at all, and other than the Colletta inks we've both commented on over the past two issues (he's not on the job here, but returns next issue), these books are really quite solid.