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Defenders, The #71: Review

May 1979
Ed Hannigan, Jack Abel

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Story Name:

Stranger and Stranger in a Strange Land

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #71 Review by (September 26, 2023)

Review: Here’s the surprise: for several issues we’ve been following an urban terrorist who looks like a Joker Wannabe. So imagine the amazement had a sequel to THE DARK KNIGHT revealed that the Joker was an alien and Batman had to travel to a sword-and-sorcery world to achieve justice for Gotham City. Trippy, right? Well, that is what we have with the Defenders discovering that their Joker is multiple crazy people splintered by a fantasy contrivance, requiring them to invade a tunnel shaped Tolkienesque adventure game. Kudos to Ed Hannigan for taking a character created then abandoned by David A. Kraft and giving him the most bizarre follow-up he could imagine. This almost reaches the heights of madness found in the Steve Gerber era. And there’s more!

Comments: Part two of four parts. The title comes from the Bible, Exodus 2:22 in the King James Version; the same verse also inspired the title of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Or maybe the comic took its title from the Heinlein novel, bypassing the Bible. There’s a similar pun on the cover. Turk’s account is a biased version of the events of MARVEL PREMIERE #45-46. 

Origin of Lunatik. Lunatik(s) quotes Mork from MORK AND MINDY, “Q: Are We Not Men. A: We are Devo” by Devo, a 1978 McDonald’s jingle, the Festrunk Brothers (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd) from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones.

Ledge’s joke about Turk having the power to cloud minds is a reference to THE SHADOW radio series. First appearance of Tunnelworld, which will show up over the next dozen or so issues, the people of which are apparently called Sputs. The letters page includes one by legendary letterhack Al Schroeder III.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #71 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

In a classroom at the University, Defenders Valkyrie, Hellcat, and Nighthawk plus Dollar Bill and Ledge sit as a grand jury on three copies of the insane Lunatik as Professor Harrison Turk, the self-proclaimed Lunatik, explains the bizarre situation. He is Arisen Tyrk, sorcerer-king of an extradimensional kingdom. This kingdom was invaded by a band of space pirates led by Star God (also known as Man-Wolf) and Tyrk was defeated and left for dead but he tried to escape through a damaged teleportation machine and so was trapped in a strange, mirrored reality where he was split into multiple fragments. One landed in this world where, by cunning and guile, he established an identity as college professor Harrison Turk. On successive nights of the full moon, three more fragments arrived, the first one becoming a vigilante through a warped sense of justice, the later two choosing to imitate him. His story concluded, the big question then is what to do with him….

Elsewhere, two Justice Department officials decide that Kyle Richmond’s finances bear a deeper scrutiny and the Defenders seem shady as well….

At the Sanctum Sanctorum, Clea welcomes the Defenders plus Turk and the three Lunatiks. After a lot of explanation, Clea decides they should enter the other dimension where she believes assembling a majority of Tyrk’s fragments will draw all of the remaining ones to them, restoring Arisen Tyrk to his original existence. Clea opens a portal and they all step through into a pleasant looking pastoral world shaped like a tunnel. Nighthawk flies reconnaissance and spots an old man in red with some sort of ape-like beast as companion. NH flies down only to find they have vanished from sight. A little further along, he spies a village but the sight of him causes a panic, small people yelling “Nilffim” and throwing rocks at him. He returns to the others to find they have met a caravan of locals, called Sputs; Clea casts a spell that allows them to understand each other. The people explain they are refugees from the evil king and then the Nilffim arrives, soldiers mounted on giant birds, the King’s air force. The birds dive, the Sputs open fire with bows and arrows, the heroes join in the defense, and Hellcat, unable to do anything effective, dives for cover. Clea takes a blow to the head so Turk frees the three Lunatiks who take Hellcat prisoner and escape. Valkyrie sees the bad guys escape on horse(ish)back and pursues on Aragorn….

From a distance the battle is observed by the red-clad old man and beastly companion Nighthawk saw earlier. They are Doctor Strange and Hulk in disguise; Hulk leaps through the air, knocking out all of the Nilffim in a ricochet move. Strange explains to Clea that a dark force in this world threatens all the dimensions and Clea notes that Val, Hellcat, and the Lunatiks are gone….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Jack Abel
Jack Abel
Barry Grossman
Herb Trimpe (Cover Penciler)
Jack Abel (Cover Inker)
George Roussos (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Herb Trimpe. Letterer: John Costanza.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Patsy Walker)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kyle Richmond)


Plus: Defenders, Dollar Bill (Aaron English), Horace Ledge (Ledge), Lunatik (Arisen Tyrk).

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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