DR. STRANGE #183, SUB-MARINER #22, HULK #126 (1970): Defenders Begins


The Defenders were created by Roy Thomas, but developed organically through the cancellation of Dr. Strange’s monthly series.  He needed to resolve a storyline, and ran out of issues to do it, so he brought the good Doctor, Sub Mariner, and Hulk together in the last issue of Dr. Strange and regular issues of the other characters’ series.  I guess it was helpful to be writing all three titles.

It starts in Doctor Strange #183, with an introduction to “The Undying Ones,” a group of ancient beings. Strange goes to Namor for assistance (the “why” of this is not clear). They fight off a few Undying Ones, and there’s mention of a “nameless one” who appears to be the leader.

From there, it’s on to Hulk, where Banner has been kidnapped by a cult trying to raise the Nameless One.

This is a very confusing issue. Banner is shunted to another dimension to fight the Night Crawler monster.

One of the cult members is Barbara Denton, who will be called Barbara Norris in The Defenders and who will ultimately become Valkyrie.

And then in the very end, Stephen Strange, who was just given a new identity by Eternity one issue ago, goes back to being Stephen again, only he hangs up his role as Master of the Mystic Arts to go back to being a surgeon. For no reason at all.

These three issues are the seeds from which The Defenders will grow, but they make no sense at all.

No bueno.

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