Flashback Friday: The Defenders
Look back at the history of Hulk, Silver Surfer, Namor, and Doctor Strange’s partnership!
Every Friday, we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the most notable appearances of a character that made waves this week.
What could possibly bring together a wandering monster, the Master of the Mystic Arts, a skyway surfer and the Lord of Atlantis? Right now, you can see the latest explanation in a series of one-shots: IMMORTAL HULK: THE BEST DEFENSE #1, NAMOR: THE BEST DEFENSE #1, DOCTOR STRANGE: THE BEST DEFENSE #1, and SILVER SURFER: THE BEST DEFENSE #1, all of which lead into DEFENDERS: THE BEST DEFENSE #1 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett!
Longtime Marvel readers will know that this particular group comes together in all manner of ways to stop evil forces. The seeds for the non-team go back to 1969 and 1970 and a crossover written by Roy Thomas that ran through DOCTOR STRANGE #183, SUB-MARINER #22, and INCREDIBLE HULK #126. In that story, Doctor Strange called on the other two stars to help defeat the Nameless One and his minions, the Undying Ones.
In 1971, Namor, Hulk and Silver Surfer teamed up to stop a weather machine in SUB-MARINER #34-35. Later that same year Hulk, Strange and Namor gathered under the name the Defenders in MARVEL FEATURE #1 by Thomas and Ross Andru to go up against Yandroth. The team stuck around that series for two more issues to tangle with a Dormammu cult and Xemnu the Titan.
The trio proved popular enough to garner their own series which launched in 1972. DEFENDERS kicked off by Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema, the book began featuring Silver Surfer with the second issue. By issue #4, the group also brought Valkyrie into the fold, cementing the classic line-up.
DEFENDERS would run for 152 issues plus one Annual by the time it wrapped in 1986. Not only did the team become one of the more important ones in the Marvel Universe during that time, but also evolved and changed roster-wise. The squad would go on to include Hawkleye for a few issues, Darkhawk, Damon Hellstrom, Luke Cage, Hellcat, Red Guardian, and Devil-Slayer.
The group went through a variety of changes. With issue #125, the Defenders became a more traditional team with a set cast including Angel, Beast, Valkyrie, Gargoyle, Iceman and Moondragon. In 1993 a new title called SECRET DEFENDERS came about, led first by Doctor Strange and then by Dr. Druid. In that series, the leader would recruit specific heroes for specific missions based on their skills.
Since then, the group has gone back to its original membership a number of times, but also gone a different route as seen in the 12-issue DEFENDERS series helmed by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. Now we get to see a whole new take on the classic crew and we can't wait to see what happens!
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