Sunday, May 01, 2005

It Came From the Longbox! The Defenders #95 May 1981

[See the cover here.]

Hmm, this random thing doesn't seem to be working out. The first comic I randomly picked was an Avengers comic with a lot of magic, and I noted that I never really liked mixing magic and superheroes. So I dip into another box and pull an issue of The Defenders and...the cover features Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, the Son of Satan, Gargoyle the Demon and Hellcat (the latter non-magical) confronting Dracula. (Marvel's Dracula, from The Tomb of Dracula series.) Hence the story title, "The Vampire Strikes Back". OK, I want my 50 cents back right now.

We open with the supernatural superheroes returning to Strange's funky pad in Greenwich Village to find the front door ajar. "My Mystical defenses would prevent a common thief from easy egress," the world's most powerful sorceror notes. Well, that's good to know.

Sensing no evil, Strange ushers the others in, when they are jeered at by "A mocking voice!" They are divebombed in the dark, but it's only team regular Nighthawk, a knockoff of DC's Batman. Apparently he has been crippled and in a coma prior to this, but is now well. Then we get a bunch of backstory flashback stuff, and then the sun rises and Nighthawk collapses to the floor. See, he's stronger at night--that's his superhero gimmick, along with flight--and during the day loses his renewed health.

More flashback stuff, with a strong magical content (zzzzz) and then Dracula smashes through Strange's mystical defenses--he really should just look into a home security system--and starts kicking some Defender ass. However, something's wrong with the Count, and the SoS conducts a quick exorcism and Dracula is freed from demonic possession (!!!) and mightily pissed off.

So now they team up with Dracula (!) and teleport to some distant realm to battle some mystic foe and its "legions of the undead." They appear to be outmatched, but Son of Satan (who, yes, is the Son of Satan) pushes time forward, or some damn thing, and (having warned Dracula to leave) brings the morning early and destroys all the undead.

Not great stuff. Again, the content isn't really up my alley, and the scripting by J. M. DeMatteis is pretty lame in that trademark '80s way, while the art by Don Perlin and Joe Sinnott is at best stolid. Dracula in particular looks cartoony and suffers from a complete absence of the dignity lent him by Gene Colon's atmospheric pencils in Tomb of Dracula. He does come off better on the cover, provided by Pat Broderick and Al Milgrom.

One of my favorite superheroes, Ghost Rider, is proclaimed to appear in the next issue, "The Rock And Roll Conspiracy" (oh, brother), so I guess I should have dug that one out.


At 7:01 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

The story does smack of that pre-movie mania desperation.

One wonders if the writers weren't just handed assignments like students in a creative writing class: "Okay, you write a Defenders comic--but include Dracula."

Nice review, by the way.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Oh, and pretty much any comic artist is going to suffer in comparison to Gene Colan.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Hmm, Colan was a great artist, but I have to admit (despite his long run on Daredevil) that I never really fancied his superhero stuff.

On Dracula and Howard the Duck, though, he was great. I think something in his style, especially the way this clothes seemed 3-D, grounded them and added a note to reality to his fantasy themed books, books generally featuring the 'real' world with one fantastic element.

Superhero books, however, are set in a fantasy world, and I just never thought his style was really suited to it.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defenders 95 was the first comic I ever owned. Got it when I was 4 years old. Pretty heavy for a 4 year old. I still love it. Brings back great memories. I think the DeMatteis run on Defenders is actually quite strong.


Post a Comment

<< Home