“D” Is For …

… The Defenders! (1972)

I have a hard time setting Daredevil aside, but The Defenders are such a wonderful abberation that I can’t help but annoit them my favorite “D” comic.

My affection for this title is primarily for Steve Gerber’s whacko run, with the Headmen and the Elf with a gun and Hulk in Bozo makeup, but I also greatly enjoy David Anthony Kraft’s run, which was every bit as iconoclastic. The very earliest issues — with Doctor Strange trying to keep the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner on the same page — are fun too. And how can you not love a team that includes guys like the Silver Surfer, Son of Satan, Hellcat, and Moondragon on the roster?

(You can keep that TV show, though. What a snore).

All right, come tell me that I should have picked Daredevil … or any other “D” title of your choice. Sound off in comments, below!

Honorable Mentions:

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published every now and then at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on February 5, 2018, in Comics A-To-Z and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Daredevil is cool but he’ll never have “elf with a gun” going for him. What is your favorite iteration of the team?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked Defenders best when Steve Gerber set it up as a kind of half-way house for third-tier superheroes. So I guess that was Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Doctor Strange, and Hulk as the core, with weirdos like the Son of Satan dropping in for drinks. Also liked Hellcat on the team, but that was the DAK era.


  2. I forgot how goofy The Defender’s run was. Was everything that goofy at the time so they slid buy unnoticed? Wait don’t answer that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Defenders was weird even in a generally weird time for Marvel. I’ve heard that Gerber always turned his stuff in late so editorial oversight was probably minimal. I expect Sal drew most of those books over a long weekend.


  3. I have to go with Detective Comics. Some excellent Batman stuff there, especially the 70’s. Yes, the Defenders had some really good moments, such as the Steve Gerber madness (apparently that guy never even took drugs – amazing!) and Daredevil (though I’m no fan of Frank Miller nor Klaus Jansen’s art, to name a couple) and Doctor Strange have also had really good runs, and as a sucker for team-up books I also have to give a shout out to DC Comics Presents, but overall, I have to go with Bats here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can’t argue with that. I liked Miller’s DD run so that choice was additionally difficult for me.

      Wish I knew more about DC Comics Presents — again I curse the lack of a DC digital subscription service!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I’ve been wishing for a DC digital subscription service myself.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I talked to their digital editor about five years ago and he said it will never happen. They were convinced that Marvel’s service was a money-loser. Hopefully a more mature digital market will change their minds, particularly for their digital backlist.

          But companies get set in their ways, and DC’s bookstore business seems more robust than Marvel’s, so they might fear that a digital subscription service might too greatly cannibalize their print collection business. I just know that I’m never buying a Doom Patrol printed collection but I’d read the hell out of Doom Patrol for ten bucks a month.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sad, but good into to know, Paul.


          • I did buy the Doom Patrol Silver Age Omnibus but I’d have preferred to have gone with the Digital Version. I predict DC, or more accurately Warners, changes their mind before long. The new reality is people don’t want to own stuff anymore unless it is collectible. So goodbye CDs, hello Vinyl and Streaming services. Watch what happens when Disney launches their version of Netflix now that they are buying the Fox library. Worst case DC lets Jeff Bezos talk them into access to their library for ComiXology Unlimited.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually liked the Defenders show, except for Iron Fist. Bad, bad acting, as evidenced by how hard his own series tanked.

    Instead of co-opting the Defenders name, I wish they had gone with Marvel Knights instead 😦
    Now there’s going to be a new generation on fans who’ll only associate that show with the Defenders name, ignorant of the originals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marvel Knights might have been better branding overall.

      I watched all of Defenders (something I can’t say for Luke Cage or Iron Fist) But I don’t remember it — mostly it was on in the background while I did other things (like laundry!)
      I think I am adequately served by a couple Marvel movies a year at this point. The Netflix shows have shown steady decline. I didn’t even try Punisher, though I will check in on Jessica Jones when it returns.


  5. Confession time: I appreciate Steve Gerber for his creativity and risk-taking. But, in general, I do not enjoy reading Steve Gerber stories. It is hard for me to reconcile my feelings, since I like to think I have a wide range of acceptance when it comes to comics storytelling and can tolerate a lot of silliness and exaggeration. But, when I read Gerber’s stuff I just cannot seem to enjoy the lunacy, it just grates on me.

    Having said that, I loved the later Defenders run with DAK, especially the issues that featured Keith Giffen (mimicking Kirby) art.

    But my #1 “D” choice will have to be “Daredevil”. I really loved that character and book. I had one of the Marvel softcovers back in the 70s that reprinted issue #7 where he fought Sub-Mariner. That story really blew me away and made me a fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those early Wally Wood Daredevils were fantastic. Too bad Bill Everett didn’t stick around to draw that Sub-Mariner issue, though.

      And I totally get that Gerber is an acquired taste. He’s not an everyday read, for sure, but what he did was so singular and out there that I need to celebrate him, maybe even more than I actually like him.


  6. I could have gone with D being for either Detective Comics or Daredevil. Even with B being for Batman, I’d have no problem with D being for Detective Comics since it gave us Batman, Robin, the Penguin, and The Riddler. That’s kind of hard to beat. Since my husband is visually disabled, I’d also been happy with D is for Daredevil. Were then any major disabled super heroes before Daredevil?

    I hate to say it, but I can’t get into the Defenders. Roy Thomas created the Defenders and they were only okay. Then, Roy bails before the Defenders get their own series. Steve Englehart does a terrific job with the Defenders, but he bails when the Avengers / Defenders Wars ends and he takes Namor, The Silver Surfer, and Hawkeye with him. Len Wein comes on board and adds Nighthawk to the roster and then Len bail in less than a year. By the time Steve Gerber comes along, I’ve lost interest.

    In addition to DC Comics presents, there was one other major omission from your list – Doom Patrol.

    My guess for tomorrow? E is for Jack Kirby’s Eternals.


    • Doom Patrol is a great catch! I’m not much of a Grant Morrison guy so I forgot about them (which doesn’t excuse my forgetting their Silver Age incarnation).

      A sane man would pick Daredevil or maybe Detective over Defenders, for sure. (You make an excellent case for Detective, didn’t realize it was home to all those firsts). But … I’m a comics blogger, so that answers the sanity issue.

      I guess if I was picking a collection of the virtual shelf to read tonight, it would be Daredevil, no question. But when I survey my feelings — when I take stock of my nostalgia — it is the Defenders that rise to the top. And DD was in the Defenders, now and then, so I get both!

      (And, yep, my you guessed tomorrow’s column).


  7. David Anthony Kraft

    I commend you on your good taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never read Doom Patrol, but it’s something that I’ve wanted to read for a while now.


    • You haven’t!?!?!?
      Please do ASAP Dave! And you have your pick too.
      Morrison, the original run by Drake and Premiani, Rachel Pollock, Keith Giffin, and of course the current run by Gerald Way/Nick Derington.


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