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Defenders, The #78: Review

Dec 1979
Ed Hannigan, Mike Esposito

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Story Name:

The Return of the Original Defenders!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #78 Review by (February 27, 2024)

Review: The beginning and end of this issue lead us in to the next, epic story arc centering on the oddball Tunnelworld and its denizens with a man with wings growing out of this head to whet our appetites for something weird. The bulk of the issue concerns the female members of the team, wrapping up the details from the Omega the Unknown arc while pushing them into their next adventure. A huge number of women feature in this part as the villain’s army is the Fem-Force, an all-gal army with some weird mutants as leaders, largely to prove Tunnelworld doesn’t have a monopoly on oddball. Too bad the Mutant Force isn’t particularly interesting, just a bunch of guys, each one having a generic power. The big battle scene is cool but it’s not until the surprise ending where we discover the team’s female friends have been subverted that things get interesting. So what we have is two running plots, each giving us a hint of offbeat things to come.

Comments: Part one of six parts. Sequel to issues #71-73. Moondragon next appears in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #61-63; she returns as a series regular starting in issue #125. Richard Rory next appears in SAVAGE SHE-HULK #7 and occupies himself there for the rest of that title’s run, appearing sporadically in later Shulkie titles; the others will stick around for a few more issues. Mutant Force was introduced in CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #4; this is their second appearance; they will be around for a while. The Force members are Burner (fire powers), Peeper (super eyesight), Lifter (strength), Shocker (electrical powers), and Slither (snake-man). First appearance of Aeroika, who has huge wings growing out of his head. Cameos by the corpses of Omega and James-Michael Starling.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #78 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Doctor Strange summons the Hulk and Sub-Mariner to his home to enlist them in a mission to save Tunnelworld from the growing threat of the Unnameable, which could spread to our world if not stopped. Hulk dislikes being out in the rain so he heads to the Sanctum Sanctorum just to get dry. When he arrives, he is startled to see the Sub-Mariner there and the two trade insults before Strange calms them down. Namor and Hulk agree to aid Strange in liberating Tunnelworld from the forces of evil….

Clea is relaxing at a nearby café, saddened that Strange is not taking her along, despite her feeling useless on Earth, because she is only an apprentice….

Meanwhile, Moondragon gives Omega and James-Michael Starling an honorable burial in space, the capsules containing their bodies heading for the sun….

In Las Vegas, Hellcat, Valkyrie, and Wasp plus Dian Wilkins, Ruth Hart, and Amber Grant, say their goodbyes to Richard Rory who is staying in Vegas. Hellcat complains about her treatment by Moondragon (last issue) and they all take off in an Avengers Quinjet piloted by Yellowjacket….

At home, Kyle Richmond fumes about the government investigation into his finances and especially the court injunction that prevents him from adventuring as Nighthawk. Ironically, Kyle takes a call from his techs, informing him that the new weapons package for his costume is ready….

The group in the Quinjet receive a distress call from an Air Force base in Colorado: The base is under attack by a gang of supervillains called the Mutant Force out to hijack a shipment of gold; the bulk of the baddies are women referred to as the Fem-Force. The heroes land and battle the villains and capture some of them but the main force escapes with the gold and Yellowjacket as prisoner. The women pursue them into town and, spying Amber on the ground, they land. Amber directs them to the police station and the women heroes enter, only to find themselves captives of the villains….

In an epilogue, Strange, Hulk and Namor arrive in Tunnelworld in disguise and meet some of the locals who do not trust them until Strange reveals himself. They are then led to a hooded man who will be their guide; he introduces himself as Aeroika and removes his hood to reveal he has wings growing out of his head….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Mike Esposito
Mike Esposito
Barry Grossman
Ed Hannigan (Cover Penciler)
Bob McLeod (Cover Inker)
George Roussos (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Herb Trimpe. Letterer: Clem Robins.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Patsy Walker)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kyle Richmond)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Amber Grant (Amber Douglas), Defenders, Dian Wilkins, Mutant Force, Richard Rory, Ruth Hart.

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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