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Giant-Size Defenders #3: Review

Jan 1975
Steve Gerber, ?

Story Name:

Games Godlings Play!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Giant-Size Defenders #3 Review by (March 23, 2021)

Review: Cool issue looks like a videogame with the Defenders/reader engaging in various battles with DD going against the Final Boss in a thrilling contest of “flip a coin” (a really audacious move on the part of the writer) to win the game for our team, er, non-team. The rest of the battles are fun, with a couple of surprises; Namor killed by a beating from a lizard-man’s tail? For a guy who has fought Hulk to a draw, this is utterly embarrassing. On the other hand, the biggest surprise of the issue may be Dr. Strange’s defeating an enemy by eschewing magic for a punch in the face, a strangely physical act for one of the least physical heroes. The weirdest bit is the two text sections, the one explaining the rules of the game makes sense though the rules don’t really enter into the course of gameplay and could have been boiled down to, “You’re fighting to the death.” It’s the earlier passage wherein each of the Defenders introduces themselves to Daredevil with a dramatic flourish that comes off a bit odd. Didn’t see these guys as such theatrical types. Maybe it comes with the capes. All in all, an entertaining issue.

Comments: Main story takes place between DEFENDERS #21 and 22 and was plotted by Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin, and Len Wein; art is by Dan Adkins, Don Newton, and Jim Mooney from layouts by Jim Starlin. Daredevil and Nighthawk previously fought in DAREDEVIL #62. Grandmaster first appeared in AVENGERS #69; the Prime Mover in STRANGE TALES #167. Dumog (the amorphous blob), Teju (the lizard guy), and Grott (the tough little guy) return in THOR ANNUAL #6 and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #22-23 then GOTG ANNUAL #2. And, yes, Korvac is the famous one, here making his first appearance; he also returns in THOR ANNUAL #6, after that he faces the Avengers in his classic run (AVENGERS #167-177).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Giant-Size Defenders #3 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Late one night, Daredevil detects Nighthawk and, remembering their previous encounter, tries to capture him but the two are teleported to limbo-like world in space. The Grandmaster is playing a game against the Prime Mover, a sentient computer programmed never to lose, the stakes of which are the fate of Earth. The Grandmaster’s team is the Defenders plus Daredevil (to make a team of six) and they will be paired off to face Prime Mover’s team in combat to the death. And so…

Valkyrie and Nighthawk find themselves on a dismal world full of stone obelisks and purple mists. Nighthawk is attacked by a man-bat hybrid demon and once he catches on that it moves by echolocation, he is able to divert it into a fatal collision with a stone structure. Val faces Takkor, a four-armed skeletal demon astride his own dark horse. When she realizes that the horse is the dominant person, she is able to skewer it on her sword. Round one goes to the Grandmaster….

The Sub-Mariner and Daredevil appear on a volcanic world to face their foes. DD is attacked by an amorphous creature called Dumog which seizes him with its tentacles and hurls him into an exploding crater where he burns alive. Namor faces Teju, a lizard man, who, surprisingly, beats Namor to death with its tail. Round two goes to the Prime Mover….

Doctor Strange and Hulk find themselves in a semi-medieval world where Hulk faces Grott the Man-Slayer, a yellow dwarf with powers of telekinesis who tosses him around like a feather. Strange faces Korvac, a futuristic cyborg whose brain is wired directly to his weapons pedestal, making him able to fight at the speed of thought. Strange reacts by punching Korvac in the face, knocking him to the ground, breaking his machine parts. Meanwhile, Hulk, buried alive under tons of debris, reaches out a hand and flicks Grott into a hard wall. Round three and the match go to Grandmaster….

The Prime Mover takes off in a huff, and Grandmaster informs the Defenders (and DD, resurrected along with Namor) that he will be making Earth into a training ground for warriors and that they will become part of his stable of gladiators. The non-team attacks their foe who can just brush them off. DD challenges Grandmaster to a simple contest, double or nothing. DD takes a plastic disc, marks an X on one side and leaves the choice to Grandmaster who calls “tails.” It comes up heads and, in good grace, Grandmaster accepts his defeat and sends the heroes home. Dr. Strange questions DD’s judgment in risking Earth on the toss of a coin; DD, with his sensitive fingers, knew he could flip the disc to come up however he chose but he doesn’t tell the Defenders that and so he takes his leave….

“The World Destroyers!”
Writer/artist: Bill Everett.
Synopsis: Story reprinted from SUB-MARINER (1954 series) #38.
Betty Dean suggests to Namor the Sub-Mariner that if he is going to war against the surface world, he should start with the Fatalists, a small band of fanatics that has developed a death ray and has been trying to sell it to a wealthy nation—but all of the nations on Earth, including the Communist ones, are horrified by the device and refuse to consider it. Namor’s reaction is delight that maybe the surface people will destroy each other, leaving Atlantis alone. The Fatalists hunt down Namor and shoot him with their death ray and toss his body in the ocean. They have kidnapped the son of a Latin American leader to force his father’s country into purchasing the death ray; when the old man refuses, they seek to execute the boy but Namor arrives, having been revived by the water, snatching the ray gun away and shooting the Fatalists with it. The Fatalists turn out to be aliens from Pluto and the ray sends them home. Namor takes the stockpile of weapons for his own use but discovers the guns won’t work for him. 

“The House of Shadows!”
Reprinted from STRANGE TALES #120. 

Glynis Wein
Ron Wilson (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Jim Starlin.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Matt Murdock)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Bruce Banner)

(Kyle Richmond)


Plus: Betty Dean, Defenders, Korvac, Prime Mover.

> Giant-Size Defenders: Book info and issue index

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