Defenders (1st series) #64

Issue Date: 
October 1978
Story Title: 

David Kraft (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler), Don Perlin (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), John Costanza (letterer), Bob Hall (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Defenders, good and bad alike, are in hot water with the New York police department. Sagittarius’ Defenders slip away into the subway station when Hercules inadvertently distracts the police. The good Defenders follow in hot pursuit. They battle in the underground until Beetle helps his comrades commandeer a subway train. The heroes take to the streets using Captain Ultra’s scanner vision to follow. Meanwhile, Dollar Bill catches up with Professor Turk and Ledge and discusses his future plans. Back in the city, Kyle’s Defenders stop a boy from “robbing” his mother and when his teammates complain Kyle snaps and the neo Defenders quit on him. When people start running by complaining about the stock exchange being overrun by Defenders, Nighthawk takes to action, but is easily defeated by the large group under Libra’s command. Back in the subway, the heroes stop the train and fight once more. The tide is turned after Hellcat almost chokes to death courtesy of Blob and unknowingly unleashes a psychic mindblast that levels everyone around her. Meanwhile, Nighthawk finds Val’s team and they confront Libra’s Defenders at the Staten Island Ferry. When Val is placed in dire straits her perception of reality changes and she sees everyone as nasty trolls. She battles her teammates as well as her enemies until only Nighthawk remains. He manages to snap her out of it, though it frightens her deeply. In the Soviet Union, General Kharkov gets the disturbing report that Sergei has returned to the Forbidden Area and awakened his unholy creation.

Full Summary: 

Manhattan, Diamond District

Hercules and Sagittarius plead their cases to the officer in charge, but he reminds them once more they’re all under arrest. He screams it as a matter of fact almost dropping his cigar. Hellcat tries calming the irate officer down, telling him they have proof they are the real Defenders. He asks what that is and she explains that Hercules and herself are both ex-Avengers. She introduces herself and reaches for her I.D. It’s not there, and embarrassed, tells the officer she must have left it in her other costume.
Hercules whips out his I.D. card much to Hellcat’s joy. The officer takes the credentials, looks it over and questions whether it’s forged. Hercules tells him to stop joking around, but the officer says he’s not. With the police momentarily distracted Sagittarius passes the word to the rest of his crew to make a break for it.
Black Goliath is the first to spot the great escape and calls everyone’s attention towards it. The real Defenders take off after them despite the policeman’s protests. The officer shakes his fist angrily and tells them they’ll be paying for all the damages.
Grand Central Station

The day to day citizens waiting patiently for the subway train are thrown into a frenzied panic as the false Defenders make their getaway into the Underground. Batroc tells his villainous friends to follow him as he leaps over the turnstile.
The heroes are in hot pursuit. White Tiger leading the group. He catches up with Batroc and takes him out just as he steps onto the downward escalator. Hercules, right on Tiger’s heels, squares off against Blob. Herc tells Blob he was only toying with him earlier and now will face his full fury. Blob takes the Olympian’s best hit and calls Herc a pantywaist.
More individual battles rage on and it looks like the bad guys are done for. That is, until, Beetle notices the incoming subway train. He races over to the driver’s car, rips open the siding and pulls the conductor from his chair. Sagittarius takes the lead and orders everyone onto the train. Electro adds that his powers will double the train’s speed.
Somehow the villains manage to board without any of the heroes. The train departs, but Black Goliath isn’t ready to give up. He leaps onto the tracks and grabs the rear car. He then wraps his arm around a support beam and struggles to keep the train from moving. When Hercules hears Goliath yell he’s losing his grip he adds his strength to the effort. Unfortunately, the last car breaks off from the rest of the train and the Defenders are left with a bunch of ticked off citizens.
They rush to the surface after Captain Ultra explains he can use his scanner vision to track the underground vehicle from above. The heroes try to keep pace with the racing subway train, though some, like Hellcat, have trouble. She decides to head back and get the Hellcatmobile.
Empire State University

Dollar Bill walks up on Professor Turk and Ledge as they make their way across campus. Ledge, who was recently released from the hospital, still sports a head bandage and two crutches. As the completely uncouth Bill slaps “Stickoid” on the back Professor Turk tells him they saw the Defenders Special on TV. He asks Bill what the Defenders thought of it. Bill tells him “the usual” and tries changing the subject to his future plans. Professor Turk tells Bill he may have an idea for him.
Wall Street area

Kyle’s Defenders come across a lady yelling for help, that she’s being robbed. Sure enough, a young boy snatches her purse and takes off. The Defenders swarm and capture the boy, who turns out to be the same kid from earlier who “carjacked” his dad. Son of Satan isn’t pleased they’re wasting all this time chasing down kids. Nighthawk calls them a bunch of crybabies and tells them to listen up, and that if they don’t like how things are going they can “lump it.” This causes everyone from Nighthawk’s team to quit.
Nighthawk’s teammates all take off into the air, except for Tagak, who races down the sidewalk. Meanwhile, the boy gives the purse back to the lady calling her “mom” and saying he was only after his allowance. Nighthawk finishes wondering what else can go wrong when a group of men go racing by him shouting things about the Stock Exchange being destroyed by the Defenders.
Nighthawk takes off with his jetpack, headed towards one of the few institutions that actually affect his life. He hopes he can save the Stock Market, although he’ll have to do it single-handedly.
Trading Floor of the Exchange

Libra stands at the center of the chaos with Toad cradling his leg. Libra’s minions, Shocker, Boomerang, Leapfrog, Joe Gorilla and Melter dish out the damage. Boomerang questions the purpose behind what they’re doing. Libra explains that when the Defenders defeated Scorpio the scales of balance were tipped in their favor. Now they’re trying to bring things back to equilibrium by creating a villainous Defenders team.
Shocker takes a moment during the crisis to hassle a stockbroker. He tells the terrified man he wants to become a millionaire. The broker stutters it’s not that easy. Shocker tells him to make it happen or he’s dead. The man tells him about a big buy order for Richmond Enterprises. Shocker tells him to do it. Trip, the stockbroker, handles it. Moments later Shocker stares at a sheet of paper showing he has a million dollars in his very own Swiss bank account. He tells Trip he’ll let him live. Trip thinks to himself his son will never believe this.
Nighthawk comes crashing through one of the trading room windows. He takes out Gorilla Joe in the hopes if he attacks hard and fast enough they won’t realize he’s only one Defender. That was probably the dumbest thing Kyle’s ever tried as Melter blasts him midair and knocks him unconscious. Libra orders everyone to vamoose before the rest of the Defenders show up. Nighthawk regains consciousness a bit too late, still groggy from the powerful blast. He decides to look for his other teammates for help in stopping the evil Defenders.
The Subway

Hercules stands, straddling the subway tracks as the train carrying Sagittarius’ Defenders races towards him. He stays his ground, putting his shoulder into it as the train comes to a destructive and jolting halt. The bad guys pile out determined to finally beat their adversaries.
The Defenders hold their own once again, except Hellcat. The Blob gets his meat hooks around her neck and begins choking her. None of her teammates notice as Patsy slowly loses her air supply. Blob tells her to kiss all her nine lives goodbye. Patsy begins to panic, sweat pouring down her face. Her eyes begin bugging out at the realization she’s going to die. Just as she nears death’s door her eyes go white and the subconscious barriers that were holding back her developing psychic powers are destroyed. She lashes out with a powerful psychic blast that fells both friend and foe. She clutches a support beam as she nearly collapses. Hellcat looks at what she did, all the fallen bodies, and can’t believe Moondragon never told her she had the power to do something like that.
Elsewhere in the city

Nighthawk finally happens upon Val’s team and explains how the others quit on him. He then fills them in on Libra’s group of “Defenders” and how they beat him up at the Exchange. With their general whereabouts known, Val leads her team on the offensive.
Shortly thereafter the Defenders spot trouble brewing near the Staten Island Ferry. Sure enough, it’s the nasty Defenders and they’re throwing John Q. Citizens into a ruckus. When the bad guys spot the incoming Defenders Libra is pleased to see the increase in Defenders on the good side, as he anticipated from the Defenders special. With equilibrium, and his purpose, achieved, he jumps ship along with his faithful servant, Toad.
On the main deck the Defenders tangle with each other. Joe the Gorilla puts Val into a tight chokehold, similar to what happened to Hellcat not long before. However instead of a powerful psychic backlash, Val’s perception of the world around her changes. The ferry turns into a Viking ship and everyone around her turns into a troll.
Valkyrie goes berserk, her demeanor changing to that of an Asgardian warrior woman, and breaks free of Joe sending him flying overboard. Val turns her sights on the battling Falcon and Leapfrog. Unfortunately, she is unable to differentiate between friend and foe as they all appear as trolls. She smacks them both with the flat of Dragonfang and they, too, go overboard. She proceeds to rid the ship of all Defenders, good and bad until only Nighthawk remains. While in mid-air, Prowler decides to resign from the Defenders... immediately.
Nighthawk runs over to Val all smiles, happy to see her bat all the neo-Defenders away too. Valkyrie turns, but only sees another troll coming to attack her. She grabs him by the throat and hoists him into the air. Nighthawk tries reasoning with her, but it’s no use. Val brings Dragonfang back to strike. Nighthawk asks her what’s wrong and reiterates he’s her friend, a fellow Defender. Val’s expression turns from pure hatred, to questioned revelation, to shocked horror. She drops Nighthawk and questions what she’s done. She wonders aloud if she’s become her worst nightmare, a berserker who revels in bloodlust.
Nighthawk recovers quickly and comes to Val’s side. He finds her shaking like a leaf and tries to calm her down. Val asks him not to touch her for she fears what her reaction might be. Just then, Jack of Hearts and Falcon climb out of the water and back aboard the ferry. They both express their disbelief at what happened. Jack of Hearts says he quits.
Nighthawk overhears this and tells him that’s good news, after all they were only asked to join by Dollar Bill. He starts listing all the attributes of being a good Defender, but Falcon tells him he can stop, as they don’t need any more convincing to join the crazy ranks of the Defenders. He tells Nighthawk “Good-Bye!”
Nighthawk is happy to see them go, but then his thoughts turn towards Val and he rushes back to her side. He finds her huddled on the ground, a disheveled wreck. He kneels down beside her and asks what’s wrong. Val admits she doesn’t know. Nighthawk promises her the best care money can buy. Val thanks him, but questions what earthly physician could heal the conflict between her Asgardian persona and the mortal body of Barbara Norriss.
Soviet Research Institute

At the new home of the Red Guardian it seems all hope has been abandoned. General Kharkov and some of the Soviet’s leading scientists have come to the conclusion that the aforementioned hero will remain radioactive forever. They fear for their people’s safety knowing full well they are unable to contain her if she decides she wants to leave.
Suddenly, a messenger comes bursting through the door. With a dire look on his face he reports Codename: Sergei has been located. He passes the field report to General Kharkov. The General reads it over and explains Sergei has returned to the Forbidden Area and awakened his unholy creation. One of the scientists replies that all of mankind is doomed.

Characters Involved: 

Hellcat, Nighthawk, Valkyrie (all Defenders)

Black Goliath, Captain Ultra, Falcon, Havok, Hercules, Iron Fist, Jack of Hearts, Marvel Man, Nova, Polaris, Prowler, Son of Satan, Stingray, Tagak, Torpedo, White Tiger (all Defenders recruits)
Dollar Bill

Professor Turk
Batroc the Leaper, Beetle, Blob, Boomerang, Electro, Joe the Gorilla, Leapfrog, Libra, Looter, Melter, Pecos, Plantman, Porcupine, Sagittarius, Shocker, Toad, Whirlwind (all fake Defenders)

Sergei: The Presence

General Kharkov
Boy “Defender”

Boy’s Mom
Police officer in charge
Trip (stock broker)

Story Notes: 

Dollar Bill’s Defenders documentary was not well received by Defenders’ team leader, Nighthawk. The subsequent Defenders mass enrollment then led to Hulk leaving the team after a group of heroes tried to capture him.
Ledge was in the hospital for a while after taking a steel pipe to the head courtesy of E.S.U. campus crazy, Lunatik. The Lunatik saga will be followed upon in the Defenders’ pages in the near future.
Prior to joining the Defenders, Hellcat was on Titan training her newfound psychic powers with Moondragon.
Joe the Gorilla and Pecos were members of the criminal organization the Split Second Squad, whose only appearance was in Avengers (1st series) #77.
Art error:

At the bottom of pg. 26, when the Defenders are shown flying off the ship due to Val’s enraged fury, a pair of yellow boots can be seen with some blue legging. While they could have belonged to Jack of Hearts he is clearly seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the panel. The only other Defender it could be is Nighthawk, but he is supposed to be down on the ferry.
Valkyrie’s warring personalities (her persona is trapped within the body of the human Barbara Norriss) will be followed up on in the near future.
Sergei awakened his amoeba creation with the intent of destroying it in the previous issue. Unfortunately it didn’t work as planned and he was instead absorbed into the creature to be used as a power source.

Issue Information: 
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