Defenders #2-4 (2001)

This is the first issue where we get to see the mechanics of Yandroth’s deathbed curse from last issue. It works like this: Once again, Attuma is trying unseat Namor in Atlantis. Right in the middle of the conflict, Namor disappears. Hulk is playing pool with Doc Samson, and disappears. The same thing happens to Doctor Strange and Silver Surfer, and all four Defenders reappear in Canada, where they are confronted by Pluto, who has a Valkyrie helping him.

While that’s going on, Nighthawk and Hellcat track down the original Valkyrie, who has amnesia. They cure her and all join the original Defenders—via Papa Hagg’s magic.

So now we have two Valkyries.

Turns out, one is Lorelei—who was enslaved by Pluto, and is able to break free during the battle. She and Pluto then enslave the original Valkyrie and use her to fight each other, while the Defenders take on Pluto’s army of the dead. In a literal deus ex machina, Zeus arrives and forced Pluto to stop being such a dick.

In the end, Val has returned as a Defender and, once again, the core members all fight and run off to be alone—as they did at the end of most of the early Defenders stories. It’s tradition. It’s silly. I love it.

A cool thing about this is that a different Defender narrates each of the issues. Kurt Busiek is trying new things here, mixing humor and deep history, rewarding diehard fans and new readers alike. Not everything lands well, but, hey—he’s trying! And that’s kind of important at a time when Marvel is moving to become “mature” and good old-fashioned comic book storytelling is getting put in the back of the bus.

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