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The Defenders are living in a material world, and the Valkyrie is a material girl. – The Defenders #5

April 26, 2011

I’m always a bit amazed by how long The Defenders lasted as a series. For an admitted secondary team, though one with compositional characters that had a bit more gravitas than the Champions roster, they really had some legs.

And, speaking of legs, perhaps we can credit said longevity to the Valkyrie and her pointy Madonna-esque bra:

Yeah. Why not?

Let’s jump right into this Steve Englehart/Sal Buscema/Frank McLaughlin effort, in which the Defenders are still farting around about forming, you know, THE DEFENDERS. As you can see above, Valk is busy strutting absent-mindedly through the streets of New York, stopping men dead in their tracks as she slinks along, including this poor sap:

What, the pissed wife didn’t have an umbrella to whack poor Melvin over the head with?

As is so often the case when a hero(ine) is out minding their own business, Valkyrie is soon beset by masked, knife-wielding assassins whom she rapidly neutralizes:

Doctor Strange shows up to lend a hand, and after they triumph he takes her back to his pad to counsel her and make Clea insanely jealous. He recommends that she find Namor and the Hulk to help out her mental state, and gives her a couple of ruby bullets to aid her in her quest:

Those two guys don’t seem like they’d be the best balms to soothe a woman’s soul, but hey, the man’s a doctor.

Namor is within the New York city limits, so he’s first up:

But he vanishes into thin air before he can level her with a bellowed “IMPUDENT WENCH!”

Valkyrie, now accompanied by Namorita, seeks out the Hulk, who evinces his usual delight at unexpected company:

Before you know it the Hulk disappears too. But Valk still has those handy dandy pointer rubies, and they lead her to the spot where her two one-day teammates are located — an old lighthouse surrounded by invisible walls. And inside those invisible walls?:

The Omegatron is a doomsday device (or something) that awaits the day it will say its god’s name (Yandroth) and therefore usher in the apocalypse. I think. Anyway, he’s almost ready, and now he has some help to hold off these two blonde interlopers — mind-controlled heroes and their duplicates:

That’s whole lotta surly.

Valkyrie, Namorita and trusty winged equine Aragorn fend them off, but the Omegatron takes physical form:

Somewhere the Living Colossus is yelling “You stole my look! Right down to the briefs, you son of a bitch!”

He manages to get the Yandr- out, but (literally) gets cut off by Valk:

Add “SLURGE!” to the earlier “SLUD!” in the list of this issue’s delightful sound effects.

Surely the bonding afforded by offing this foe will grease the formation of the team. Right?:

And that’s the end of that.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been much of a Defenders fan. Though the eclectic blending of personalities could spark some fireworks, like every other non-Avengers book it comes off as lesser, watered down version of that (usually) higher-caliber roster. Things were a little better in my eyes when the Silver Surfer joined the Defenders line-up later on, but the tale in this issue is typical of the “meh” vibe that pervades so many of the title’s earliest days. There were later arcs that had quality, but I’m a bit amazed that the title lasted long enough to reach that point.

Perhaps the Valkyrie and her simultaneous satisfaction of multiple fetishes had something to do with the staying power. Maybe.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. neill permalink
    April 27, 2011 2:06 pm

    well, if I may be redundant and defend the defenders–when they had creative people behind them, it was a great book–the Englehart run was not bad (and Frank McLaughlin never got the credit he should’ve for making S Buscema look so good), the Giant-Size #2 had great Kane/Janson art, the Gerber run was particularly memorable, some great Keith Giffen (both with and without Janson) issues–after Dave Kraft left, it was very hit-and-miss, despite a few interesting bits by Ed Hannigan and some terrific Knowlan covers.

    • April 28, 2011 3:00 pm

      As I said (I think), they had their moments. I’m just surprised they lasted long enough to have moments, if that makes any sense. A lot of issues carried that “And?” feeling, where you feel that there should be something more and there isn’t. Then again, the bulk of the run was before my time, so perhaps I shoudn’t be the one to judge (nostalgia can conquer all).

  2. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    April 29, 2011 1:24 pm

    I’ll second the excellence of Gerber’s run. Funny about Valkyrie–I swear about every third issue starts off with her wandering the streets randomly until she runs into trouble. I’m quite certain that’s how the Sons of the Serpent storyline starts off (issue #21?).

  3. May 10, 2011 12:48 am

    If you get the chance, check out the first Valkyrie appearance in Hulk #142; it’s a hilarious homage to Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic.

  4. December 7, 2014 2:39 pm

    Frank McLaughlin is one my favorite inkers over Sal Buscema’s pencils at Marvel in the 1970s. The few issues of Captain America where Frank inked Sal looked great. I really wish McLaughlin had been Buscema’s inker on the classic “Secret Empire” story arc rather than (shudder) Vince Colletta 😦

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