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Defenders, The #53: Review

Nov 1977
David Kraft,

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Story Name:

The Power Principle, Part 1: The Prince And The Presence!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #53 Review by (April 26, 2022)

Review: Nice issue hurt by cluttered art as a lot is going on here. Maybe they should have omitted the Clea solo adventure (no one would have missed it) and drawn it out a little more. Especially as none of the heroes with Namor gets anything to do (except eat, in the case of the Hulk). Nevertheless, the climax is apocalyptic, as befits a cliffhanger and everyone gets their fill of action next time. The Val/Lunatik subplot also looks very promising with this Man Who Would Be the Joker on the loose but implying a connection with Val.

The Clea story is okay but expendable, as previously iterated. It isn’t clear why the bad guy approached her as a mugger when he could have just blasted her in the first place. Though his downfall is deliciously ironic, a powerless sorceress defeating him though simple physical violence. 

Comments:  First story: Part one of three. Origin of The Presence. Pencils shared by Dave Cockrum, Keith Giffen, and Michael Golden. Second story: First appearance of Nicodemus, not the same person as the mutant External appearing in X-Men titles in the 1990s; this guy reappears in MARVEL FANFARE #5 and that’s that.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #53 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, takes his fellow Defenders, Hulk, Hellcat, and Nighthawk, to Atlantis where a banquet is held in their honor. But Namor impatiently cuts it short to address the important matter before them. Atlantean scientists explain that radiation leakage from a Soviet nuclear test has contaminated part of the Kingdom. Namor plans an expedition there with the Defenders….

In Russia, the scientific genius known as Codename: Sergei explains to his bride, the hypnotized Red Guardian, that he is ready to find personal fulfilment in their nuclear transmogrification planned for the next day….

Back in New York, Clea advises Valkyrie to try registering at Empire State University again. Val heads to the school via subway where the crowding makes her uncomfortable enough to shout at the others to give her room. At her stop, she departs and arrives at her destination where she sees the mystery maniac called Lunatik fleeing the campus cops; she trips him, he looks at her with something resembling recognition, smiles, and takes off again….

As the Atlantean ship enters the rift in the rocks, attempting to locate the source of the radiation leak, Codename: Sergei detonates his nuclear bomb to begin the transmogrification process. Boiling water rushes through the undersea crevasse, wrecking the Atlantean ship and scattering the heroes and the crew as the explosion sends a killer earthquake through Europe—and Sergei is transformed into the Presence with power….

“Clea, the Mystery Maiden!”
Writer: Naomi Basner. Pencils: Sandy Plunkett. Inks: Tony Salmons. Colors: Marie Severin. Letters: Joe Rosen.
Synopsis: In Central Park one night, Clea is approached by a knife-wielding mugger who demands her money; she responds with a magic blast. He draws a gun and she blasts him again, walking off. But then the mugger responds with a magic blast of his own, rendering her unconscious. She awakens a prisoner in an abandoned church; the mugger introduces himself as Nicodemus, who shows her a machine designed to transfer all of her mystic abilities to him. He is planning to steal the powers of other magicians until he has enough power to defeat Dr. Strange. He runs his machine and drains all of her power, becoming much stronger. Then he makes some sexual advances and she clouts him in the head with a small statue and telephones Strange to come get her….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Terry Austin
Phil Rachelson
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
Bob Wiacek (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Patsy Walker)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kyle Richmond)
Red Guardian
Red Guardian

(Tania Belinsky)


Plus: Defenders, Lunatik (Arisen Tyrk), Presence.

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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