Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Classic Comics - The Defenders #62

Through its first incarnation, The Defenders enjoyed some prime writing talent, including Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber.

All three turned in excellent work and made their mark on the series. Those talents tend to overshadow another writer whose work I enjoyed quite a bit on this and other titles - David Kraft.

His work in the late '70s featured quite a few entertaining twists - but this is the one that stands out most clearly in my mind.

This issue is a (mostly) comedic take on the hoary "recruit new members for the team" bit. The twist was that the Defenders didn't really want any new members - they were happy with the existing roster, which included Nighthawk, Hellcat, Valkyrie and the Hulk.

It seems that amateur filmmaker (and comic relief) "Dollar Bill" had made a documentary about the team without their knowledge, and gave it to a TV network to broadcast. At the end of the film he pointed out that The Defenders were a "non-team," with no charter or rules - so any hero could be a member!

The next morning, the team is swamped with a small army of second-tier characters looking to join - and the situation just gets wilder with every page. (And we all now what happens when a bunch of Marvel heroes get together for the first time, right?)

Aside from a serious (and unconnected) sub-plot, the issue was given over to this offbeat situation - and the story, while improbable, was undeniably fun.

The art is by the legendary Sal Buscema with inks by the equally legendary Jim Mooney - but the printing doesn't do them any favors. It's a solid, professional job, but not the best work by either artist, I must admit. Of course, it's the kind of story that would give any artist (except maybe George Perez) nightmares, with dozens of costumed heroes running amok.

Still, kudos to Kraft for his excellent work on this series - and you'd also do well to track down the project he tackled after leaving Marvel: he created Comics Interview magazine, one of my all-time favorite comics publications.

Grade: B+



dhole said...

I loved this comic as a kid (which actually becomes a bit of a trilogy, and gets very fun when villains get're right, Perez would have had a blast with this story!).

I agree that the heroes wanting to join could be considered second-tier, but it's funny that the cover shows at least six who had their own book at the time (with Power Man and Iron Fist as one book), plus the Human Torch. But I remember some of those heroes don't even show up in the story. Torch doesn't, and Iron Man only makes a cameo in the next issue to inform them of a riot, I guess they didn't think the book would sell based on cover appearances by the Prowler and Captain Ultra.

Fun review, thank you.

Chuck said...

dhole, that's true, the cover's a bit of a cheat - it's by John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton, I believe. You're right, they slipped a few "A-list" stars in there.