Comic Browser:


Defenders, The #20: Review

Feb 1975
Steve Gerber, Vince Colletta

Loading cover...

Story Name:

The Woman She Was...!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Defenders, The #20 Review by (March 1, 2021)

Review: I can’t believe I wrote the words, “the mystery of the magic harmonica.” But then the rushed story strains credibility at more than a few places; the tale fails to make sense if one tries to think it through anyway and they don’t really explain what the harmonica was. But that’s the charm of 1970s Marvel comics.

Comments: Part three of three parts. This issue follows MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #6-7 wherein first Dr. Strange then Valkyrie team up with the Thing. Hulk is absent, busy in his own title, INCREDIBLE HULK #184. Jack Van Nyborg and his cult previously appeared in INCREDIBLE HULK #125-126.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #20 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Story continued from MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #7.

In Cobbler’s Roost, Vermont, Valkyrie mourns the late Alvin Denton, the father of her alter ego Barbara and the only person who could explain her previous life. Executioner attacks Thing, wanting to finish their battle, but Enchantress, giving up on the magic harmonica scheme, whisks him away to find a new way to conquer Asgard. Val, in her disguised form, insists on bearing Alvin’s body home and Doctor Strange in his astral form appears to Ben, asking him to keep an eye on Val because the mystery of the magic harmonica is not yet solved and she may be in danger….

Val takes the body to the sheriff’s office where she is recognized as the long-missing Barbara. Trying to hide her ignorance of Barbara’s past, Val is shocked when the Sheriff mentions her husband Jack. Afterward, Val is taken to the family home where she tries to get her thoughts together….

Doctor Strange and Nighthawk arrive and meet up with Thing and they head off to find Val, who has been captured by the cult; Strange narrowly avoids a trap that catches Thing and Nighthawk, trapping them in a cellar with electrified walls. Strange explores Barbara’s house and learns from a painting that Celestia, the name on the magic harmonica, was Barbara’s mother—just before he is magically overpowered and brought to the basement where he and Val are about to be sacrificed. The cult, led by Van Nyborg, is intending to draw the Nameless Ones back to our dimension and they have promised to restore the horribly aged and disfigured Celestia to her youth and beauty in exchange for her daughter’s life. Thing and Nighthawk escape from the cellar and disrupt the ceremony, Nighthawk fighting the cultists and Thing taking on the Nameless Ones. Celestia prepares to play the harmonica but Ben snatches it away from her, inadvertently crushing it to dust. This also causes her to crumble into ash and all the magic goes away, the Nameless Ones return whence they came and Strange and Val are unharmed. Strange erases the memories from the cultists’ brains and the Defenders head home….  

Loading cover...

Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Vince Colletta
Vince Colletta
Petra Goldberg
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: John Costanza.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)


(Kyle Richmond)

(Ben Grimm)


Plus: Defenders.

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

Share This Page