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Defenders, The #56: Review

Feb 1978
David Kraft, Carmine Infantino

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Story Name:

Val's New York Adventure

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #56 Review by (May 24, 2022)

Review: Two major plot elements here: a) Bruce Banner using all of his expertise in his chosen field to save his friends dying of radiation poisoning. This section is very wordy, dragged out by exposition which leaves little room for the major complication, the diplomatic crisis of American heroes being caught on Soviet soil. Fortunately, there was a convenient Soviet nuclear test to hold over their heads, making the problem go away. And b) is our first extended look at the new baddie Lunatik, who comes off as a Joker wannabe whose constant chatter distracted me from the action as I was always recognizing (or trying to recognize) all of the 1970s pop culture references. Check out the Comments for the trouble he put me through. Where is Elf with a Gun when he’s needed?

Comments: “Our big anything can happen—and does—issue”—Cover. Despite being mentioned frequently, Red Guardian does not appear. Lunatik quotes the songs “Tracks of My Tears,” “I’m Late,” “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” “Top of the World,” “Hard Headed Woman,” “Tutti Frutti,” “She’s a Lady,” “Cold Turkey,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “All You Need is Love,” and slogans for Miss Clairol Hair Color, McDonalds, Toyota, Rolaids, and Dry Look hair spray. He also quotes Mae West, John Heywood (1497-1580), and Porky Pig. And he is next seen in issue #61 giving me a respite from research for a bit. There’s also a mention of SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), a big deal during the Reagan years.  


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #56 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

In an alley near the university, Valkyrie is defending her pal Ledge from the mad Lunatik. The villain takes her on with his staff while spouting pop song lyrics and TV commercial references. Ledge jumps between them to break it up and receives a beating from Lunatik who leaps away over the gathering crowd….

In Russia, government troops have come upon the Defenders dying of radiation poisoning, demanding they surrender. Bruce Banner tells the soldiers that his friends must be taken to a decontamination center and, recognizing him as the expert in radiation that he is, do what he asks. Red Guardian is sent to a separate place as a Soviet citizen while Hellcat, Nighthawk, and Namor are taken to the main research center. The three are placed in immersion tanks and Bruce gets to work, trying not to let his anxiety for his friends get the best of him lest he turn into the Hulk. Namor and then Hellcat hit a crisis point but Bruce is able to work through the problems….

Valkyrie pursues Lunatik, leaping through the crowded streets like a madman, hurling a baby at Val to slow her down. They spar in the street and end up with each other’s weapons which puts Val at a disadvantage; she distracts him by mocking his abilities and then leaps out of the way into the path of an oncoming cab. The enraged cabbie yells at her for wrecking his cab, which only makes her madder at Lunatik and, with their weapons restored, she chases him to the United Nations Pavilion where he vanishes into the crowd. Nearby, the Soviet Ambassador and an American counterpart are working out a compromise over the American heroes and Russia’s unauthorized nuclear test…..

Back in the USSR, Bruce Banner tries an experimental treatment of his friends and it turns out successfully. Bruce then collapses from sheer exhaustion. At midnight, Bruce, Patsy, and Kyle are sent home via plane….

As Val searches for Lunatik, he suddenly appears behind her disguised as a blind beggar and hits her in the head. She chases him into the subway where she gains the upper hand but has to stop herself from killing him. So he gives her a goodbye kiss and leaps in front of an oncoming train…only to appear unharmed at the rear, calling “Sayonara….”

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Carmine Infantino
Klaus Janson
David Kraft
Carmine Infantino (Cover Penciler)
Klaus Janson (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Peter Iro.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)

(Patsy Walker)

(Kyle Richmond)


Plus: Defenders, Horace Ledge (Ledge), Lunatik (Arisen Tyrk).

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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