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Defenders, The #97: Review

Jul 1981
J. M. DeMatteis, Joe Sinnott

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Story Name:

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Review & Comments

3 stars

Defenders, The #97 Review by (July 9, 2024)

Review: Well…. Using central ideas from both Judaism and Christianity as the basis for a horror comic is a tasteless task, especially as those ideas appear to be based on limited knowledge of either faith. Yes, I know that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) but we’re not dealing with spiritual edification here just cheap entertainment.

Should have learned their lesson from Ghost Rider’s mystery friend, another fake Jesus.

Comments: Part four of seven parts. Title is a quote from the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats. Devil-Slayer, created by Rich Buckler as Demon Hunter for Atlas/Seaboard Comics in the early 70s, was brought over to Marvel with a name change, debuting in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #33; he then showed up in DEFENDERS #58-60; this is his third appearance, joining the non-team. His wife, Cory Payne, also debuted in the SPOTLIGHT issue and will show up over the next few issues; she is then forgotten for a decade and a half before dying in a MAN-THING comic. GCD identifies the cover penciller as either Ed Hannigan or Luke McDonnall. Finished art by Joe Sinnott, Sal Trapani, and Jack Abel. Additional lettering by Rick Parker and Joe Rosen.  


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #97 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

At the home of Asmodeus Jones, Doctor Strange enters into a trance for five hours while the other Defenders (Hellcat, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Son of Satan, Gargoyle) await the results. He emerges, telling them he thought he could trace the Six-Fingered Hand in the place where the demon Fashima was strongest. He then proposes entering Hellcat’s mind as she was recently possessed by the demon Avarrish; she refuses, which only confirms Strange’s suspicion that remnants of the demon remain in her. Strange enters Patsy’s mind and discovers a remnant of Avarrish; he encourages Patsy to cast it out and she fires a mental blast that flattens Strange. Then Devil-Slayer arrives, materializing through the wall; he tells the Defenders of a letter he received from his estranged wife, Cory Payne. The letter describes how she traveled to Israel to live in a kibbutz and came under the influence of David Kessler, who claims to be the Hebrew Messiah. DS believes Kessler is an agent of the Six-Fingered Hand. Hellstrom touches the letter seeking evil emanations and the paper bursts into flame. So, they all go to Israel, Dr. Strange teleporting Val, Hellstrom, and Gargoyle with Devil-Slayer using his shadow-cloak to transport Patsy and Kyle….

In the Florida swamp where lies the Nexus of Realities, we get a glimpse of Man-Thing to set up the next issue….

The Defenders arrive in Israel, disguised as normal people, near an oasis where David Kessler is baptizing followers. But since it is daytime here, Kyle’s paralysis returns. Kessler heals a blind man and gives all glory to his heavenly Father. The Defenders quickly decide to ask him to heal Kyle to see what happens. Meanwhile, Cory is delighted to see her husband Eric (Devil-Slayer) there until he reveals he is planning to expose David as a fraud. Cory defends him as a good man who was chosen by God for a mission of peace. And then David immerses Kyle in the pool and raises him healed of his paralysis. The Defenders are divided over this display of power but Daimon Hellstrom confronts David accusing him of being powered by the devil. Kyle fights him over it and Gargoyle sides with Hellstrom. David takes Hellstrom and Gargoyle by the hands and prays for the truth to be revealed—and the two Defenders’ disguises are stripped away, leaving them in their monstrous forms. Seeing them as they are, David calls down an army of archangels to battle the Defenders who also drop their disguises to fight. After some melee, David orders the angels back to heaven but they don’t go. Dr. Strange then realizes the truth: David really believes he is the Messiah but is not aware he is the pawn of the demon Hyppokri. Strange casts a spell that reveals the “angels” are demonic creatures. Hyppokri then takes full control of David’s body and reveals the plan to conquer the world under the guise of a peace crusade. David manages to regain some control and throws himself on Devil-Slayer’s sword. As he dies, the demons are forced back to their own realm and David’s followers are left alone, including Cory….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Joe Sinnott
Joe Sinnott
George Roussos
(Unknown artist) (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
George Roussos (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Don Perlin. Letterer: Diana Albers.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Eric Payne)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Isaac Christians)

(Patsy Walker)

(Kyle Richmond)
Son of Satan
Son of Satan

(Daimon Hellstrom)


Plus: Defenders.

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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