Defenders #112-114 (1982)

Issue #112 is titled, “Strange Visitor From Another Planet,” a tag-line used to promote old Superman serial episodes.  The splash page says that Beast is “part of the Defenders family.”  It’s hard to have a team roster when your team is still not officially a “team,” and never has been.

After some character work, Gargoyle realizes that they forgot to follow up with Dr. Strange after he went missing to find Namor, Hulk, and Son of Satan in issue #109.  But they don’t have to kick themselves for long, because Strange astrally appears to ask for help saving another world in another dimension.

The Defenders’ teammember Nighthawk died in issue #106 (but he’s not dead—see below), but he’s there with Strange and a version of Hyperion who is a good guy.  So, it’s not the Squadron Sinister dimension, it’s the Squadron Supreme one.

From there we get a pretty heavy What If? style exposition explaining that after the Serpent Crown story in Avengers #141-148, Kyle Richmond was elected president and then an alien called Overmind showed up and took over the alternate Earth.

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The Squadron Supreme fought Overmind and lost when the being took over the minds (hence the name) of everyone except Hyperion.  And, it turns out, the Nighthawk who is alongside him now, in Defenders #112, is actually The Defenders’ Nighthawk.  That Nighthawk was actually from the Squadron Sinister, but he reformed to be part of the Defenders when he left his dimension and came to Earth 616.  Now, he’s in the Squadron Supreme dimension where their version is President and is corrupted by Overmind.

Confused yet?

Well, that’s mostly of what you need to know.  From then on out it’s a lot of action sequences and fighting.  There’s some pretty ridiculous overpowered matches…

…And some pretty silly engagements as well.

Really, Cap’n Hawk?  You can’t turn your battle mace sideways to fit through a door?  In all, The Defenders pretty much crush the mind-controlled Squadron—Marvel beats DC—-until Hulk and Hyperion take down Overmind and we learn that the true evil behind all this is…

We get an overview of Null’s past, fighting The Defenders, The Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider, and then we get a big mystic battle against Null.  Lots and lots of exposition and and long speeches, but it’s still a solid battle.  It’s hard to draw these kinds of cosmic fights, and Perlin does a good job.  Some of the best of his work I’ve seen.  In the end, Null is destroyed and Overmind’s body is overtaken by the minds of some good people he’d harmed during his reign.

Then there’s a final twist.  Nighthawk really WAS dead in Defenders #106, and the one they’ve been partnering with is actually the Squadron Supreme version.

It’s kind of a pointless fake-and-reveal.

At that point, the team and Overmind return to Earth, but when they get there Beast, Namor, Gargoyle and Valkyrie aren’t with them.  But Nighthawk is.

I’m covering what happens to them in a separate review—of issue #115, because I really like that story and it kind of stands alone.

The Overmind story is confusing and text-heavy, reading more like a 1970s Steve Gerber tale, but I really enjoyed it.  I always like Marvel’s version of the Justice League, even when it’s corny or confusing.

Creators: J.M. DeMatteis and Don Perlin (who gets coplotting credit for #113-114)
Grade: B
For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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