Defenders #13-14 (1974): Squadron Sinister!

The Defenders, now a trio, are spending a quiet night at home when Nighthawk blows down the door and somehow manages to hold his own against Hulk and Valkyrie before Dr. Strange breaks up the fight.

Nighthawk then tells them he’s here to warn them, not fight them, in a close up of his face that shows a critical need to modify his costume.  That orange beak looks ridiculous.

Nighthawk advises that the Squadron Sinister have reformed, and their new leader is Nebulon the Celestial Man.

Nighthawk then confirms a few things. First, the Squadron Sinister did NOT go back to their own reality after Avengers #70, which in turn confirms that the Doctor Spectrum Iron Man fought in #63-66 was the same one from those Avengers issues. We already learned that Nighthawk has an identity here in the 616 and great wealth. So, I’m assuming now that the Squadron Sinister are an Earth 616 group? It’s very confusing. I re-read those Avengers issues multiple times and it is clear as mud. In their 1980s miniseries, Mark Gruenwald attempts to clarify by saying that the Sinister were actually created in the 616 by Grandmaster but were based on the alternate Earth team of heroes, The Squadron Supreme.

Whatever. Let’s just try to have fun. Because this is fun.

Nighthawk reveals that Nebulon has “bought” the Earth from Hyperion, and plans to melt the polar icecaps and turn the planet into a swimming pool.

Which of course is convenient, since Sub-Mariner is in this comic. (Although wouldn’t Subby LIKE IT if the Earth were flooded?)

And then we get the obligatory battles.  Hulk vs. Hyperion!  Strange vs. Dr. Spectrum!  Namor vs. Whizzer!  And Val…Sidelined?  Hmph.  (Incidentally, there is a reference to Spectrum’s prism being destroyed by Iron Man, which it was, but apparently Nebulon just recreated it.)

Anyway, all that is in just one issue.  A great issue. In the next one, Nebulon transforms from a gold-skinned Adonis to this…

This is about as close as Len Wein gets to the kind of weirdness that was a staple of The Defenders under Steve Englehart.  And it’s not really all that weird.

In the boss battle, Nighthawk dies and Dr. Strange reveals that he has the power to restore the dead…

After which, Namor quits (again), saying (again) “Do not seek to summon me again, Strange-for if I come it will not be as an ally.”  Then, Nighthawk joins.

Hulk likes him!

This is a much more straightforward superhero book than we’re used to from this title, but it’s well done.  I’m okay with Defenders proceeding in this manner for a while.

Leave a Comment