THE DEFENDERS #15-16 (1974): vs Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!

Also known as: The one where Magneto becomes a baby!

The fact that this is not a Steve Englehart joint is bizarre, but Len Wein is doing a great job at balancing traditional superheroics against the crazy stick that usually beats every Defender to a pulp.

The story begins with what I believe is a slap at Batman, as Nighthawk shows off his new jet-pack and explains how silly it is to have a Hawk (Bat)-Plane. He then talks to his butler, “Pennysworth,” and instructs him to use some of his secret identity money to help Valkyrie find out more about the person, Barbara Norris, whose body she’s inhabiting.

I love this–it’s always fun to see the big two taking shots at each other, and it’s also a good way to begin to transition the character out of just being the anti-Batman and into a fully developed character on his own.

Suddenly, the team is interrupted by a psychic projection of Professor X, who is seeking support against the latest iteration of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants–Lorelei, Blob, Unus, Mastermind, and a newly created (by Magneto) mutant named Alpha, who has awesome, unexplained powers.

There’s a nice sequence where Dr. Strange’s mystic powers prove useless against Mastermind, who doesn’t create actual mystic monsters-he just makes Strange think that he’s fighting demons.  Very cool.  Strange learns from his mistake, too, and gets better at fighting Mastermind later in the story.

I really don’t like this version of Magneto as a guy who creates mutants, but that’s where we are with him right now.  And he goes to the U.N., like Namor does so many times, and demands respect…

This is entirely unnecessary, and begs the question why only the Defenders and X-Men are taking him on.  You’d think with a high profile move like that, everyone would join the battle.

Anyway his new mutant Alpha mutates into something Godlike, and he decides he doesn’t like Magneto’s attitude so he turns the Brotherhood into babies.

Creators: Len Wein and Sal Buscema
Grade: B+

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