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Defenders, The #36: Review

Jun 1976
Steve Gerber, Klaus Janson

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Story Name:

A Garden Of Earthly Demise!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #36 Review by (July 27, 2021)

Review: And it’s the return of Plantman, who was one of Human Torch’s enemies in Johnny’s solo series in STRANGE TALES long ago. The Torch series was one of the silliest Marvel titles of the 1960s, second only to Ant-Man’s solo series in TALES TO ASTONISH. And Plantman was a bit of a doofus, a disgruntled gardener who harnessed plant powers in his scheme of revenge. Well, after a while he became a little easier to take seriously on a level with most themed villains. So here he is fighting the Defenders, all because he doesn’t want to be called a Bozo. I can relate to him, moreso than at any other time in his goofy career. And he seems a bit more formidable here, wielding huge and nasty plants, with a criminal scheme that actually makes sense: kidnapping a millionaire for ransom. Wait, when did this comic become so…normal? Val’s prison experiences make perfect sense, as do Red Guardian’s exploits. This could almost be an issue of AVENGERS, if it weren’t for the winged horse and the clown faced cheerleaders. Huh. We’ll have to see where this goes.

Comments: Part one of three parts. Title is a pun on “Garden of Earthly Delights” a triptych paining by Hieronymus Bosch. Kyle Richmond’s life story was revealed in issue #32. Plantman was introduced in STRANGE TALES #113 and 121; he’ll show up again in DEFENDERS and eventually join the Thunderbolts; he was most recently seen during the EMPYRE event. The cover is inaccurate: Hulk does not battle Plantman in this issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #36 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

As Kyle Richmond’s brain is transplanted back into its rightful cranium, his mind reviews the incidents of his extraordinary life. He awakens to find Dr. Tania Belinsky over him, checking on his progress. At this point, three armed hoods burst into the room, intending to kidnap millionaire Kyle for ransom. Tania, secretly the Red Guardian, takes all three down in the blink of an eye. Nearby, Doctor Strange is hypnotizing Tania’s Soviet handlers into allowing her to stay in the USA longer when he is summoned to Kyle’s room and finds out what happened; Tania’s actions have now made him curious….

Meanwhile, Valkyrie, having been arrested for the ruckus at the restaurant last issue, is brought into the police station, where her lack of identification and understanding is taken as signs of uncooperation. Then the police are called about a maniac with a winged horse on a rooftop…

…who turns out to be Jack Norriss, protecting Aragorn from a landlord who would shoot the horse because its weight is causing the roof to collapse. Hulk arrives (from OMEGA THE UNKNOWN #2) and tosses the landlord onto the next roof, then bounds away carrying Jack and Aragorn….

Dr. Strange and Tania discuss the Celestial Mind Control movement promoted by the disguised Nebulon. Meanwhile, a trio of baddies visits the CMC; they are Alexander Gentry, Leopold Stryke, and Samuel Smithers. The Bozo cheerleaders give them new names: all Bozos. Smithers a/k/a Plantman thinks this is ridiculous and walks out to start planning his own crime….

Val is shown to a prison cell where she is immediately targeted by a huge bully. When the woman pulls Val’s hair she responds by lifting her by the throat and squeezing. Using her powers against another woman sickens her and she collapses in a bunk to sleep….

Strange and Tania arrive at the Sanctum Sanctorum where Strange receives a call telling him that Kyle Richmond has vanished from the hospital. He flies out to investigate, psychically calling Hulk and Valkyrie to join him but they are prevented by circumstances. Strange arrives at the hospital and is immediately seized and choked into unconsciousness by a giant vine, the work of Plantman. Red Guardian arrives and she is sprayed with thorns and knocked out. They awaken in a huge, impenetrable pod, held aloft high over the city; Kyle is there, they cannot escape, and Plantman is demanding fifty million dollars as a ransom for Kyle….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Klaus Janson
Klaus Janson
Klaus Janson
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: Joe Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kyle Richmond)
Red Guardian
Red Guardian

(Tania Belinsky)


Plus: Eel (Leopold Stryke), Jack Norriss (Jackson Norriss), Nebulon (The Celestial Man), Plantman (Samuel Smithers), Porcupine (Alexander Gentry).

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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