Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Power Man and Iron First meet Doctor Who

This post was supposed to be up after my Chris Claremont / John Byrne X - Men post but this way it goes online on Tom Baker´s 82nd birthday.

Another factor that facilitates writing this post is that just Yesterday I finished reading the Epic Collection Power Man & Iron Fist - Heroes for Hire and the second volume of Essential Power Man and Iron Fist which contains the issue in question. But first a bit of background information.


Now that the Netflix DAREDEVIL series is such a huge success and JESSICA JONES is becoming a similar tv hit there are all kinds of rumors floating around on the internet and most of them are started by people who have no real knowledge of comics. Because one of the characters on JESSICA JONES is Luke Cage and now that it is confirmed that there are plans to give him and possibly Iron Fist a solo series there is this big rumor that it´s all coming together in a series called, wait for it - THE DEFENDERS.

Say what ?

Yeah, my thoughts exactly. When you think about the Defenders Power Man and Iron Fist aren´t really the first names that come to mind. They are rather footnotes in the Defenders history. Before the 2011 relaunch by Terry Dodson Iron Fist was even in the " Defenders for a Day " section.

So you know which comics the producers of the show have read. Certainly not the classic ones and even though they base it solely on the FEARLESS DEFENDERS I doubt that we will see characters like Red She Hulk, Namor, the Valkyrie, Hulk or Doctor Strange on the show now that Benedict Cumberbatch is going to portray the good Doctor in an upcoming movie.

You say I´m wrong here since Luke Cage and Iron Fist were both in the Defenders, or at least in the Secret Defenders although not at the same time ? Okay, even if we let the fact aside that Iron Fist and Luke Cage were in Heroes for Hire in the longest part of their career they also were part of Brian Michael Bendis´ New Avengers ( which was basically just his version of the Secret Defenders ). In fact, Jessica Jones was also part of that so if we don´t call the Iron Fist / Power Man team Heroes for Hire shouldn´t we call it New Avengers before we call it Defenders ? Because to my knowledge Jessica Jones has never been a member of the Defenders.

I mean Hawkeye, Black Knight, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Miss Marvel, Moon Knight, Falcon, Herkules, Moondragon, Black Panther, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Beast, Captain America, War Machine, Doctor Druid, U. S. Agent and Ant Man have all been members of the Defenders at one time or another but if you saw all of them together would you really call them the Defenders or would you not rather call them the Avengers

Okay, so who are the original Defenders ? The first team was Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor the Sub - Mariner and the Silver Surfer and even if the last one joined late these are considered the four core members.

The origin of the Defenders lies in two crossover stories by Roy Thomas prior to the official founding of the team. The first, in DOCTOR STRANGE 183, SUB - MARINER 22, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK 126 occurred when the DOCTOR STRANGE series was canceled and the storyline was then completed in the other series. Dr. Strange teams with Sub - Mariner, then the Hulk to protect the Earth from invasion by Lovecraftian inter - planar beings known as the Undying Ones and their leader, the Nameless One. Barbara Norriss, later the host of the Valkyrie, first appears in this story.

In the second arc in SUB - MARINER 34 - 35, Namor enlists the aid of the Silver Surfer and Hulk to stop a potentially devastating weather control experiment, inadvertently freeing a small island nation from a dictator and facing the Avengers under the unofficial name of the " Titans Three ".

The Defenders first appeared as a feature in MARVEL FEATURE 1, where the founding members battled the alien techno - wizard Yandroth, and remained as a team afterward. Due to the popularity of their tryout in MARVEL FEATURE, Marvel soon began publishing DEFENDERS. Then my favorite nordic metal bikini wearing sexbombshell with the huge twin torpedoes, theValkyrie was introduced to the team in issue 4. Writer Steve Englehart has stated that he added the Valkyrie to the Defenders " to provide some texture to the group " and ho - boy I loved her textures.

Englehart wrote THE AVENGERS - DEFENDERS CLASH crossover in AVENGERS 116 - 118 and DEFENDERS 9 - 11. Len Wein briefly wrote the series and introduced such characters as Alpha the Ultimate Mutant and the Wrecking Crew. He later became the editor for several issues. This is the point where the second team of Defenders emerged which included Nighthawk, yes, Luke Cage too but most importantly such hot babes like the aforementioned Valkyrie, Hellcat and Red Guardian. I really should have done a COMICBABE BATTLE entry on that group back in the day.

Steve Gerber first worked on the characters in GIANT - SIZE DEFENDERS 3 and became the writer of the main title with issue 20 the following month. He wrote the series until issue 41. Part of Gerber's oeuvre was reviving forgotten characters; he brought back three pre - Marvel characters, the Headmen, as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Defenders even met Gerber's Howard the Duck in MARVEL TREASURY EDITION 12. In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Gerber and Sal Buscema's run on the DEFENDERS title first on its list of the " Top 10 1970s Marvels ".

David Anthony Kraft's run as writer included " The Scorpio Saga " ( issues 46, 48 - 50 ) and the " Xenogenesis : Day of the Demons " storyline ( issues 58 - 60 ). The " Defender for a Day " storyline in issues 62 - 64 saw dozens of new applicants attempting to join the Defenders ( which includes Iron Fist on his first shortlived membership ), as well as a number of villains attempting to present themselves as Defenders members in order to confuse the authorities and the public as they commit robberies. Kraft later recalled that reactions to the story's off - beat humor were polarized: " readers were either wildly enthusiastic or absolutely and very utterly appalled. " Kraft and artist Ed Hannigan explained some of the Valykrie's backstory in DEFENDERS 66 - 68.

Steven Grant wrote a conclusion to Steve Gerber's OMEGA THE UNKNOWN in two issues of DEFENDERS, at the end of which most original characters were killed. While Gerber seemed unhappy with Grant's conclusion, it tied up the loose ends of the series, and is considered " canon " by Marvel.

Writer J. M. DeMatteis took over the series starting with DEFENDERS issue 92. Coming from a background of writing eight page horror shorts for DC, DeMatteis found it a struggle to adapt to writing a 22 page superhero comic on a monthly basis. He and Mark Gruenwald co - wrote DEFENDERS 107 - 109, which resolved remaining plot points from the Valkyrie story by Kraft and Hannigan published three years earlier. While working on the series, DeMatteis developed a strong friendship with penciler Don Perlin, who would draw the series for nearly half its run.

At this point we have heroes like Son of Satan, Thing, Moon Knight and Devil - Slayer among its rotating membership but still no further Iron Fist.

Suffering from creative burnout on the series, DeMatteis felt a change was needed. As of issue 125, THE DEFENDERS was retitled to THE NEW DEFENDERS as the original four members are forced to leave the team, in response to an alien prophecy that states that these four, operating as a group, would be responsible for destroying the world. The Beast reforms the team as an official super hero team with government clearance. The NEW DEFENDERS concept provided a substantial boost to the series's sales, but left DeMatteis in a creative drought. He realized in retrospect that "... I created a book that was exactly the kind of the thing that I hated to write. I made it into a standard superhero team ..." He stayed on for only six issues before turning it over to the new writer Peter Gillis.

The series's final issue was THE NEW DEFENDERS 152. Penciler Don Perlin recounted " Editor Carl Potts he took me and Peter Gillis to lunch. We went to an Indian restaurant ... He said, ‘They canceled the book.’" In the final issue, several members ( Gargoyle, Moondragon, Valkyrie, Andromeda, Manslaughter, Interloper ) seemingly die in battle with the Dragon of the Moon. The remaining members leave the team to join X - Factor. Several of these seemingly - deceased members later returned in issues of SOLO AVENGERS, in STRANGE TALES vol. 2 issues 5 - 7, followed by issues 3 - 4 of the relaunched DOCTOR STRANGE, SORCERER SUPREME.

But the Defenders history doesn´t end here. If you want to read in detail about it just go to the wikipedia entry but if we ever want to get back to Power Man, Iron Fist and Doctor Who I have to give you the short version.

In Peter David´s HULK run it was revealed that the prophecy was a hoax and there was a reunion of the original three members in 370 and 371.

They united with the Silver Surfer during The Return of the Defenders story which ran through the annuals of all four members and it is included in the newly released Epic Collection HULK - GHOST OF THE PAST trade.

Marvel tried to revive the concept in 1993 in SECRET DEFENDERS where Doctor Strange handpicked each team for the upcoming mission among them Luke Cage and Iron Fist. But because Doctor Strange was reassigned to the MIDNIGHT SONS line because everything connected with GHOST RIDER was such a huge success Doctor Druid became the new leader of the SECRET DEFENDERS and the less said about the rest the better.

There was a twelve issue series of the DEFENDERS by Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen that I enjoyed followed by the 4 issue THE ORDER mini series which I missed, probably because Carlos Pacheco only did the covers.

Speaking about series where the less said is the better there was a five issue mini series by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire where the art was beautiful but the story was utter shite. Because what works with the stiff DC characters doesn´t work with Marvel characters who can be funny and neurotic when they are written normal so trying to do a funny version of that funny version makes them come off as whiny, egoistical morons. Which doesn´t prompt people to buy it. I swear there was one funny joke in the complete series and I even had to have that one explained to me by my brother. So if somebody want to sell you these issues beat him like a dog and then run like the devil was after your soul.

After the events of CIVIL  WAR there are two teams of Defenders, one formed by Tony Stark who is so hellbent on not using any former members that he has to disband it for incompetence ( way to go Tony ) and one that Nighthawk assembles. In Dale Keown´s HULK series there was a reunion of the original team during the OFFENDERS storyline in which they have to go up against Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Terrax and Tiger Shark.

It´s around this time that Brian Michael Bendis decides to apply the concept of the Secret Defenders to his New Avengers series by making Luke Cage and Iron Fist - and later on Jessica Jones - part of the team.

So like I said the new series that incorporates Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones was better off as the New Avengers since they all were actually a longer time on this team then the Defenders. But I guess Disney doesn´t want to confuse the movie goers with Avengers and New Avengers and for whatever reason don´t want to go with Heroes for Hire.

And with that we are back to Matt Fraction´s DEFENDERS which is going to be what the tv writers base their series on. There was THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS but writer Cullen Bunn explained there was little connection to the Defenders beyond the name. I hope all this was helpful to understand who the Defenders are and that they are NOT the Heroes for Hire people.


So in POWER MAN AND IRON FIST 79 our heroes cross paths with the good Doctor although at that time I had no idea who this Doctor Who was so I didn´t get all the little hints. Now in 1982 when this story came out Marvel was already publishing DOCTOR WHO comics but for some reason they decided to make an inofficial crossover. Possibly because there would have been a lot of problems involved if they had to coordinate the story with the BBC and it´s always easier to be forgiven than to get allowance.

So I had no idea what a Dalek was when I saw the splash page of issue 79.

In the story they are called Dreadlox and they are machines that are used in a broadway play called Day of the Dredlox not Day of the Daleks and the lead actor is two time oscar winner Robert Diamond playing time traveling Professor Gamble and who looks like a young version of Jon Pertwee.

Some old geezers like me may know Bob Diamond as a former member of the Sons of the Tigers who appeared in the DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU magazine and who has become part of the book as Daniel Rand´s sparring partner and Coleen Wing´s love interest after the team has disbanded.

Now to quote Chris Sims´s post Bizarro Back Issues : Power Man and Iron Fist battle the Daleks ( Sort of ) ( 1982 ) the play is about a bunch of space robots that menace a Victorian gentleman, scholar, eccentric and the scourge of evil mechanical monster everywhere. Sound familiar ?

Bob Diamond hires the team to look into some very strange going ons surrounding the play and Luke thinks this is just some kind of publicity stunt until he and Fist are at the receiving end of some Dalek .... I mean Dredlox blaster rays. While the robots try to " Incinerate ! Incinerate ! " them our beleaguered heroes have to find refuge in a nearby book store.  

Which is naturally bigger on the inside and the base of operations of the real Professor Gamble. As it turns out he wrote the play when he needed money not taking into account that the Dredlox might use it to come to New York undetected once they learned how to break through the time barrier. While our hired heroes are discussing the ramifications of time travel the Dredlox kidnap Bob Diamond and the other cast members.

As Professor Gamble explains the Dredlox mistook Bob Diamond for him since they have no idea how much he has changed in the last ninety - five years. Yeah, I´m thinking at least two regenerations, maybe three tops.

Which Doctor he´s supposed to be is a bit hard to say since he seems a bit of an amalgam of different versions. His absent minded manner and constant fidgeging reminds me a bit of Tom Baker´s version which is the iconic one since he was the Doctor for the longest time but he doesn´t have a scarf and his look goes more into the Patrick Troughton Doctor.

As always the Dredlox have trouble with their time machine so they got the one who they thought is the Doctor to fix their equipment but they got the wrong one. The only thing Bob Diamond could do is karate kick their time machine until it works which is what the Doctor often does.

Anyway, Professor Gamble has cobbled together a gizmo ( notice my precise techno babble ) to send the Dredlox back to their time but he needs Power Man and Iron Fist to create a distraction. In the end the Professor´s machine works, the Dredlox vanish as does the book store because ... it was a time machine that only looked like a book store. 

When I first read this it was only a weird and fun story but now that I know all the hints it´s a great story that shows what a cool book this is.

Sadly this was Kerry Gamill´s last issue on the title but what a note to go out on. And according to Mathew Peterson´s Retro Review of the issue at MAJOR SPOILERS ( which provided most of the art for this part ) our good Professor Justin Alphonse Gamble had another appearance at Marvel. So this is the end of my post on Tom Baker´s birthday which had a lot more Defenders stuff in it than doctor Who stuff but we will return to Patrick Troughton in my upcoming review of DOCTOR WHO VERSUS DRACULA.

There are two links I have to add. Paul O´Connor at LONGBOX GRAVEYARD has a long post about Iron Fist for those who want more background info on the character and Brian Cronin at COMIC BOOK RESOURCES goes into the many deaths and resurrections of Iron First which is - naturally - full of spoilers. So don´t read this before reading the actual comic books.

Now I have to mention Todays other celebrity birthday person, sex bomb Stacey Dash, who appeared in such movies like MO MONEY, GETTING PLAYED and ILLEGAL IN BLUE but is best known for starring in the movie CLUELESS and repeating her role in the television version of the movie.

Stacey is really the only reason to watch the CLUELESS tv series since she busted out on that show. Sadly she waited with posing for PLAYBOY until she was 40 years old although her pictures still turned out pretty hot. She turns 49 on this very day and it was not easy finding a good clip with her.

It seems she´s in the news mostly because of her strange political views than anything else and I have to ask me what went wrong here. I mean, one moment she´s the überhot sex symbol who made all male viewers instantly hard on CLUELESS, she went naked in movies like TENNESSE NIGHTS and even posed naked for PLAYBOY and now what ? That´s crazy.

Anyway, I found the clip below with a nice outfit which has nothing to do with politics. Here´s hoping that there will be better times until your next birthday Stacey Dash, many happy returns and thanks for the mammaries.

Since this is still a comic blog I wanted to post a video with Tom Baker about comics so here is part four of the Stripped for Action docu series.

This is a video I wanted to post for the longest time but kept putting it off : Amy Dallen recommends comics for Whovians which for some reason does not include POWER MAN AND IRON FIST 79. This is an outrage !

Since I mentioned Steve Gerber and Howard the Duck here´s a video about how Steve Gerber stole his creation back from Marvel. Which means he was never in Guardians of the Galaxy. That was his clone.

Our last birthday is DeForrest Kelley who played Dr Leonard McCoy on STAR TREK. He was my first McCoy before the Beast on the X - Men even if his nickname " Bones " was changed to " Pill " in the german version.

Another problem was that the episodes were cut or other episodes that dealt with Nazi Germany were not shown on tv. Which made it necessary to dub these parts for the new Blue Ray releases but since they didn´t have the original voice actors anymore these parts have different voices now. Here is a musical video to recall all the great moments of the show.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best

He´s dead Jim.


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

You say the art was good but story shite? THAT is being over polite about the story. I do not recognise it as having been published. DeMatteis and crew have been getting away with the same idea/story and its so unfunny what was the caption the writer put in? "How long can we keep getting away with this?" Even they knew it was *****.
Sorry. Loved the original Defenders and original team up!

SUBZERO said...

Yeah, I also tried my best to erase it from my memory but I had to recall it to warn future generations. Man, I think after writing so much about the original DEFENDERS I have to get that MARVEL MASTERWORK book about them.