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Defenders, The #8: Review

Sep 1973
Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema

Story Name:

... If Atlantis Should Fall!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Defenders, The #8 Review by (February 15, 2010)
This issue presents the first Chapter in the classic Avengers/Defenders war. The Defenders were, at that time, Marvel's newest super-group, with the Hulk and Sub-Mariner both having personal tie-ins to the Avengers' beginnings.

Defenders, The #8 Review by (September 9, 2013)
The last section of this issue has its own title "Deception". It is chapter 1 of the Avengers/Defenders War, following on from the Prologue at the end of Av#115 wherein Dormammu and Loki get together. Indeed the rest of that issue is relevant too because the Avengers discover that Dr Strange and his friends have 'kidnapped' Black Knight. When Hawkeye sees BK in statue form he realises that's why Dane Whitman wasn't available as his replacement in Daredevil #99. Hawkeye left the Avengers in Av#109. In Av#110 the team lost ½ their members to Magneto and went seeking recruits. They wound up with Daredevil and his current partner Black Widow. Loki was blinded in Thor #207 by lightning (caused by Karnilla not Thor). Dormammu has promised to cure him in exchange for his help in the plan concocted in Av#115. they will trick the Defenders into finding the 6 fragments of the Evil Eye. Dormammu can then use it to bring Earth into his own Dark Dimension for conquest. It appears that it was Dormammu who secretly showed Strange where to find BK's spirit. Now he intercepts the return message, and it takes the power of both villains to alter it in such a way that Strange won't notice. Silver Surfer objects that the Fantastic Four told him that the Evil Eye was destroyed in FF#54. But the team agree to work on the assumption that it survived. (And Dormammu said in Av#115 that it was just shattered into 6 pieces - by some strange authorial coincidence the same as the number of Defenders. Cue the team splitting up to find them.)

I've added this to the Iron Man Library even though IM isn't in it. This allows me to put links between the sequential issues of the Avengers/Defenders War (that unfortunately will only work in the Iron Man Library). Red Ghost describes how his last appearance in Iron Man #16 left him without his Super-Apes and abducted by Unicorn who wanted Ghost to cure him of side-effects of his power. But Unicorn soon realised Ghost couldn't do that, and left (to seek Mandarin's help in IM#57). Since then RG has turned to controlling sea-life, and allied with Attuma. There's a gap of 2 weeks between the opening scene and the entry of Dr Strange. This is presumably to make the events tie in with Avengers issues which Steve Englehart also wrote. Av#114 has a news report about Hulk meeting Hawkeye in Hulk #166, which led directly into #7 and the beginning of this issue. The end of this issue connects to the Avengers/Defenders War and Av#115. Lots happens between Av#114 and #115. Strange has just returned from #10 of his own series in Marvel Premiere where he was given the power of the Ancient One after his mentor passed on. With this extra power he expects to have more chance of curing Black Knight than he did before. The Atlantean defenders mention Tamara who is a red-skinned alien. The rest of her spaceship's crew were killed by Atlanteans in Sub-Mariner #58, but she was saved by Subby and has since risen to a position of prominence. Namor takes revenge on Attuma for the events of SM#37 where fighting the barbarian prevented him from saving his love Dorma from the Lemurian queen Llyra.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #8 Synopsis by Harold Holt
Sub-Mariner, in the mental grip of The Red Ghost, lunges toward Hawkeye and Valkrie with murder in his maddened eyes. A brief but brutal tussle ensues during which Hawkeye manages to knock out the Red Ghost before Hawkeye, in turn, is knocked out by Namor. Hawkeye awakens to find himself and Valkrie bound and powerless on a mechanical slab in the Red Ghost's lab. The villain, in standard fashion, rants about his ability to utilize cosmic ray bombardments to impose his will upon others. He reveals his latest plan: to impose his will upon undersea life, which he deems "more tractable" to his will. To this end, Red Ghost reveals that he established an alliance with Namor's arch-foe Attuma.

Meanwhile, Dr. Strange summons all available Defenders to his sanctum to witness his attempt at freeing the Black Knight from the curse that turned him to stone. Strange is worried when only the Silver Surfer and the Hulk respond to his summons. Surfer assures Dr. Strange not to worry about Namor and Valkrie. "They lead their own lives," the Surfer says. Back in the Red Ghost's lab, Attuma has joined him. They both watch as Namor, Valkrie and Hawkeye are subjected to cosmic ray bombardments, making them susceptible to the Red Ghost's will. Back in Dr. Strange's mansion, Hulk reveals that he knows where "Fish-Man and Sword-Girl" are, but he sees no reason to share this info with Doctor Strange. He turns to leave, but the Surfer grapples with him, distracting him long enough for Dr. Strange to calm him with some kind of spell. When asked again of the whereabouts of his comrades, Hulk explains that the other Defenders were taken prisoner. Doctor Strange puts the Hulk to sleep then he and the Surfer head out to rescue their friends.

Strange and the Surfer arrive in the midst of a violent battle taking place in Atlantis. The captured heroes are fighting alongside Attuma's troops in an effort to overthrow the undersea kingdom. As Dr. Strange attempts to contact Valkrie, he senses another personality, that of the insane Barbara Norris, the Valkrie's original personality. Strange finally discovers that the Red Ghost is behind all the chaos, and his actions are made possible by the bombardment of cosmic rays hitting the planet. Working together, Doc Strange and the Surfer cause a barrier to form around the earth blocking the path of any cosmic radiation. Without the presence of cosmic rays, Red Ghost suddenly finds himself powerless and unable to transform into mist. He is easily defeated by Hawkeye who, along with the other heroes, has regained his free will. Angered by what he was forced to do, the Sub-Mariner tears into Attuma savagely and conclusively, saving his kingdom and regaining his leadership. With their work done, the heroes depart.

The next part follows on from a Prologue in AVENGERS (1963) #115

Chapter one of the AVENGERS/DEFENDERS clash begins as the Defenders regroup back in Dr. Strange's mansion where he attempts to reach out to the Black Knight's spirit, which fled to some other dark realm when his body was turned to stone. Strange sends out a mystical bolt containing a communication that reaches the Black Knight's spirit. Calm and hopeful that he will now be rescued, the Knight's spirit sends a reply via the same mystical bolt, a bolt that is intercepted by Loki, Prince of evil. Loki, stricken with blindness after his last conflict with the Mighty Thor, sits stranded in the dark dimension with the dread Dormammu, Dr. Strange's arch-foe. The two fiendish foes alter the mystical communication before it reaches Dr. Strange. When the heroes hear the communication, it instructs them to seek out a mystical device called the Evil Eye if they want to save the Black Knight.

The story continues in AVENGERS (1963) #116

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Sal Buscema
Jim Mooney
Sal Buscema (Cover Penciler)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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