Defenders (1st series) #63

Issue Date: 
September 1978
Story Title: 
Deadlier By The Dozen!

David Kraft (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler), Jim Mooney (inker), Roger Slifer (colorist), John Costanza (letterer), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

It’s a superhero free for all at the Richmond Riding Academy as the neo-Defenders take on the Hulk. After Hercules receives some disturbing news from a visiting Iron Man he takes everyone down with the mighty swing of an uprooted tree and explains to the quarrelers there is a group of villains causing trouble in Manhattan under the guise of the Defenders. With things settled the large group splits into three teams, with Hulk, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and Palladin parting ways. Val’s group takes off into the air towards the city. Hercules’ group leaves in the Hellcat mobile and Nighthawk’s group departs, taking the aerial route despite Tagak’s inability to fly. Nighthawk’s team spots trouble first when a man claims a Defender stole his car. They stop the thief and return the vehicle only to find out it’s the man’s son playing a prank. Meanwhile in Russia, Sergei moves in for a closer look at the menace that’s been threatening his homeland, a giant nuclear amoeba of his accidental creation. He tries to destroy it, but ends up getting absorbed into the creature. The amoeba begins the slow process of draining him of his nuclear energy. While back in Manhattan, Hercules’ team finds a group of villainous Defenders robbing some jewelry stores. After gaining the upper hand in the battle the police arrive and unsure who to believe arrest everyone.

Full Summary: 

Richmond Riding Academy

Stingray is smashed backwards by Hulk’s giant fist, however the remaining heroes are undeterred. Black Goliath orders Hulk to surrender. Hulk laughs at the mere prospect. Torpedo and Havok let loose with their ranged attacks and then Black Goliath moves in and punches Hulk in the face.
Nearby, Falcon drops out of the sky and lands, ending the airborne chase. Nighthawk lands right behind him and the two start trading blows.
Meanwhile, Iron Fist continues riding his horse toward the two battles. His horse bucks him as he gets close and he is sent flying into the fray with the Hulk. Hulk, who’s tired of the battle, smashes the ground sending everyone into the air.
Not far away, Val, Hellcat and Hercules have finally noticed the commotion. Before they can intervene Iron Man drops in out of the sky. He apologizes for interrupting their membership bash, but has some bad news he needs to report. First though, he hands Hellcat a letter that’s been lying around Avenger’s Mansion for a while. Hercules asks what’s happened. Iron Man explains that hordes of super-villains have declared themselves Defenders and have made a mess in Manhattan.
Val declares it’s up to them to restore order. Hercules agrees, but points out they need to restore order in their own ranks first. Herc rips a nearby tree out of the ground and with one fell swoop wallops everyone. Convinced everything is well in hand, Iron Man takes off.
As the Defenders pick themselves up Hercules orders them to cease the quarrelling. He informs them of the false Defenders causing havoc in the city. The Defenders gather round Hercules, except for Hulk who wants nothing to do with them. He leaps into the air to find some peace and quiet away from the funny-dressed humans.
Val devises a plan to divide the group into three teams so they can better explore Manhattan. Hercules agrees it’s a good idea so Val appoints herself, Hercules and Nighthawk as team leaders. Nighthawk apologizes for losing his cool earlier and suggests they choose their teammates.
Hercules goes first and selects Black Goliath, Captain Ultra, Hellcat, Havok, Iron Fist and White Tiger. Falcon speaks before any more members are picked and requests to be on Val’s team. Val doesn’t mind and since she doesn’t really know any of the new Defenders picks the four people closest to him, Jack of Hearts, Prowler, Stingray and Torpedo. Nighthawk says he’ll take the rest, Marvel Man, Nova, Polaris, Son of Satan and Tagak, provided there are no objections, and there aren’t.
Polaris asks about the three Defenders who are standing aside. Captain Marvel explains he’s seen enough to know the Defenders aren’t for him. Paladin says he works for pay so he’s out. Ms. Marvel explains she was curious following her previous outing with the Defenders, but will stick with her membership in the Avengers. The three heroes depart wishing the Defenders good luck.
Hercules orders everyone to get going. Val, aboard Aragorn, leads her troops into the air. Hellcat comes up with the transportation for Hercules’ team in the form of a sports car. She screeches to a stop in front of the men and barely stops long enough for everyone to hop on. Hercules wonders aloud if taking the horses would have been a better idea.
Nighthawk’s group is all that remains. Kyle asks what they’re waiting for and activates his jetpack. Nova follows after him. Tagak yells out that he can’t fly, but Nighthawk doesn’t seem to hear him. Hellstrom tells Tagak they will assist him. Polaris silently wishes she were part of Valkyrie’s team.
Greenwich Village

Soon, as the Defenders soar over Greenwich Village, Nighthawk’s leadership abilities are called into question again when his compatriots ask that he slow down. Nova and Marvel Man are having trouble keeping up carrying Tagak between the two of them. Nighty slows and then spots a man running down the street yelling for the police claiming a Defender just stole his car.
Nighthawk lands nearby and the man hurriedly tells him about the huge, powerful guy who called himself a Defender and stole his car. Nighthawk assures him the guy’s no Defender. Marvel Man, Nova and Son of Satan fly after the car and grabbing it, lift it into the air. They transport the car back to the man, the three men marveling at how easy it is being in a superhero group.
They set the car down and Nighthawk congratulates them on a job well done. Nighthawk walks to the driver’s compartment and yanks the so-called Defender out the door. He’s surprised to find not a huge, powerful Defender, but a punk kid. The man points out he did steal the car and ever since he watched that documentary he’s had heroes on the brain. The kid, who turns out to be the man’s son, tells his dad not to be mad, that he was only playing a joke.
The man threatens to tell his mother about this and walks over to his car. He spots a scuff in the paint and blames the Defenders for the damage. Kyle is taken aback and reminds the guy it was him who called on them for help. The guy gets scared when Hellstrom and Nova echo the same sentiments and rushes his son into the car. As he drives away he yells out the window that he’s going to see them all in court. Nighthawk tells everyone not to worry, that the guy was just blowing off some steam. Polaris questions the value of being a Defender if this is the average dose of danger they’ll face. She wonders if they’re all victims of media exaggeration.
Soviet Russia

Sergei: The Presence flies by a giant, green monstrosity. He connects the recent atomic accident that destroyed the nearby town of Kyshtym to this massive beast and blames himself, for he created it.
The tale begins in 1957 when Sergei, a young geneticist on the forefront of nuclear research, made a mistake with the disposal of some radioactive material, which created a new strain of amoeba, the thing that lurches before him.
Not far away, a military scout assigned to monitor the amoeba’s progression spots Sergei and takes off to tell his superiors, fearing he’s come to further his recent power-mongering activities.
Sergei blasts away at the amoeba, further explaining how they sought to contain the creature in the Siberian Forbidden Zone. He’s intent on preventing the thing from causing any further destruction, but what he doesn’t realize is his nuclear attack is actually empowering the creature. The amoeba snatches him from his hoverchair and thrusts him inside of its own body. It begins feeding off the nuclear energy Sergei emits. Sergei fears that once he’s been totally drained the amoeba will be invincible.

Hercules’ gang continues their search for the false Defenders through the city streets. Hellcat soon spots a bunch of super-villains tearing up the Diamond District. Nine bad guys to be exact and they’re carrying sacks full of precious gems.
Herc tells Hellcat to stop the vehicle and all the Defenders pile out. Hercules orders the evildoers to stop their criminal actions. Sagittarius, the leader of the group, orders Blob to take out Herc. Hercules isn’t pleased with his attitude and plows through the both of them. Batroc the Leaper tries getting in on the action, but White Tiger stops him with a powerful, acrobatic kick.
A giant free for all begins as Whirlwind wraps up Black Goliath. Whirlwind gloats on how he used to beat on the original Goliath and expects no problems from him. B.G. shows him otherwise, belting him midair and knocking the fight out of him.
Hellcat goes after Sagittarius, avoiding his quills and landing a nice kick to the face. Nearby, Electro and Iron Fist face off. Iron Fist can’t get in close due to the electric attacks he’s barely avoiding. Thinking quickly, he karate kicks a bag of diamonds that nails Electro in the head.
Hercules, meanwhile, continues his assault on Blob. He’s astonished to find that his blows that one knocked down Atlas himself have little effect on the large-girthed man. Blob laughs at him and tells Herc he doesn’t stand a chance.
Before things can go any further the Defenders, neo, fake and otherwise are surrounded by police cars. The police exit their vehicles and tell everyone to drop the diamonds and put their hands in the air. Everyone stops fighting and turns their attention toward the cops.
The officer in charge asks for an explanation. Hercules explains they’re the Defenders and were in the midst of taking down a bunch of super powered thieves. Sagittarius claims Hercules is lying and that they’re the real Defenders and they were trying to stop Hercules’ crew from committing crimes in their name.
Hercules tells the officer Sagittarius is the one who’s lying. The officer, tired of all the nonsense, tells everyone they’re all under arrest.

Characters Involved: 

Hellcat, Hulk, Nighthawk, Valkyrie (all Defenders)

Black Goliath, Captain Marvel, Captain Ultra, Falcon, Havok, Hercules, Iron Fist, Jack of Hearts, Marvel Man, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Paladin, Polaris, Prowler, Son of Satan, Stingray, Tagak, Torpedo, White Tiger (all Defenders recruits)
Iron Man
Batroc the Leaper, Beetle, Blob, Electro, Looter, Plantman, Porcupine, Sagittarius, Whirlwind (all fake Defenders)

Sergei: The Presence
Boy “Defender”

Boy’s Dad
Police officer in charge

Story Notes: 

The editor, Bob Hall, isn’t listed in the credits for some reason.
Last we saw Prowler he was riding one of Kyle’s horses, but starts off this issue attacking the Hulk. It’s possible he saw the commotion and left his horse to investigate and decided to join in.
Iron Fist on the other hand, was in the bushes ready to pounce on the Hulk at the end of last issue. In the beginning of this one he’s on a horse and is bucked off into the fight with the Hulk. I have no rational explanation for this one.
Hercules and Hulk first battled in Tales to Astonish #79.
Ms. Marvel teamed up with the Defenders in Defenders (1st series) #57.
Typo Alert: “Hercules” is misspelled “Helcules” at the top of page 23.
The Defenders battled against the Zodiac, which included Sagittarius, in Defenders (1st series) #50.
The Plantman serving as a member of the fake Defenders is actually a simuloid of the original Plantman.
When Hercules begins his attack in the Diamond District he sends two of the fake Defenders flying backwards. Even though you can’t see his head, it’s obvious from the body style and costume that one of them is the Blob. Of course Blob can’t be moved so this is a mistake, though his power is later reflected on the next page when Hercules belts him with the power to knock down Atlas and Blob takes it and laughs.

Issue Information: 
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