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The Nightstar Zoo • View topic - "If I Ran The Defenders..."

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 3:02 pm 
Okay, everyone, you can relax.

I missed two days up updates, but don't worry. This doesn't mean I'm secretly Josh Philips in drag. (I just know some of you visual thinkers are out there right now trying to stab your brains with ice picks. :P )

In honor of my trying to catch up, here's a two-parter I was planning on posting, combined into one for easy reading.

Be warned, it's graphics intensive. So if you've got a pansy little 14.4 modem...for god's sake, upgrade to two tin cans on a string. At least then you'll be able to use it as a science experiment. :D

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Listen carefully to people in a comic book shop, and you'll hear a lot of the same arguments. But if you listen carefully, you'll realize that they fall into pretty much two categories.

A) "Character A is stronger/faster/smarter/cooler/more powerful/sexier/greater in the sack/better at raising penguins than Character B..."

or the lesser heard

B) "This should be the line-up of this team. It would so rock."

Well, we've already got posts to debate who could beat who at various stuff.

Time to address that second issue. :D

With a definitive...twist.

Now, all of you comic book geeks out there are probably already chomping at the bit to suggest your team, and how it's the "be all/end all" team line-up. Yours is the ultimate line-up, and if the comic book industry would wise up and give you control of the book, you could do wonderful things with it.

Well, I'm sorry, you're wrong. You do not have the definitive line-up for the Avengers. You do not have the be-all/end-all line-up for the Justice League.

I'm not even sure you've got anything close to a good idea for the line-up of the Power Pack. :P

And how do I know this? Well, it's really quite simple.

Only I have the definitive line-ups for these teams. So nyah, nyah, nyah.

So, here's how it's gonna work. Two things are going to happen in these columns.

A) I'm going to post my list, and simply dazzle you with the complexity and deep planning I've put into these.

B) You're going to post replies telling me I'm full of it, that with my apparent intellect I'd have a hard time finding my way out of a paper maze in the dark equipped with a leaky kerosine barrel and a packet of matches, and that it's a good thing they're never going to hand over the writing responsibilities of this title because I'd not only run it into the ground, but back a cement mixer over it a few times.

In other words, just like the conversations at your local shop. :D

First up, Marvel's premiere non-team.

You heard me. Non-team. The Defenders, I've felt, have always worked best when you take a group of personalities that might not always see eye-to-eye but just happen to have a common goal.

Also, just to give you guys a heads up, I'm breaking convention. On my team, there's going to be no Doctor Strange, no Silver Surfer, no Hulk, and no Sub-Mariner.

That's right, get all that gnashing of teeth out of the way now, I'm not reconsidering.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's set up the standard rules for picking teams.

1) No more than 12 members. Any more than that, and we're getting dangerously close to one of those blockbuster summer "X-Men" events. For god's sake, can't Marvel dig up Scourge again to off a few useless mutants? I mean, what's Bishop still doing running around?

2) In the case of the Defenders, there will be a core team of 4 members. It has always been done thusly, and always will be done thusly. You will then pick 8 members who will circle around the core team much like lawyers around an ambulance drop-off. They will be more than just cameos, they will be co-stars.

3) Anybody who mentions a certain deer fawn in this column (besides this mentioning right here, obviously) will be dragged out into the street, tied down, and forced to read "Fighting American" until their eyes implode.

We're not having any of THAT, here, folks. :P

Anyway, let's start out by saying hello to our new team leader.

1) Daimon Hellstrom a.k.a. The Son of Satan

Image

Hear me out before you start throwing stones, okay, people?

The Defenders aren't your local Avengers branch. There's very little "hanging around the mansion" between missions going on here.

So, obviously, what we need is someone who can show up and say things like, "You. We have a job to do."

And it's only ten minutes later does anybody realize they have no idea where they're going or where they are.

Anybody who leads this team is going to have to be able to do so by three points. Brute power, fear/respect, and raw charisma. This guy's got all three in spades.

Besides, the book always seemed better when it was kinda dark, even during the lighter issues. Who better to carry that permanent sense of darkness than the literal offspring of the Prince of Darkness?

What he brings to party: Leadership, in buckets.


2) Valkyrie

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Face it, folks. She just belongs here.

The Valkyrie has always been a favorite of mine. A disembodied 'chooser of the dead' who wound up spiritually bonded to a not-quite-dead-yet woman, she's managed to be a lynchpin on just about every incarnation of the Defenders out there.

Save towards the ends of the run, when for some reason a character this fascinating was passed on for, say, Hellcat. Why? Cause some people are just stupid, that's why.

The Valkyrie had the spirit of a true warrior, and would wield her magic sword "Dragonfang" and an enchanted spear, she'd be right up there with the Sub-Mariner or Hulk in engaging the front line of the enemy.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we need another dark and gritty character like we've got out there now.

Dark and brooding like the Batman, yes. Stacking bad guy corpses like they're so much kindling like Wolverine, Authority, Spawn, etc...no.

Which is why, during the height of her time being written in the Defenders by Steve Gerber (god bless him), she was a furious combatant, but also had a visible softer, gentler side.

All in all, she is the perfect example of an outsider, a person to whom our very way of life can be a strange and alien thing. That, and she's become so devoted to the idea of the team, that she's made it her life to uphold that ideal. Every book needs one of these. It's like not having the Vision around in the Avengers, people.

That, and the fact that this character has appeared in more issues of the Defenders than any other character. How do you like THEM apples, huh?

Take my word for it, folks. You can't have the Defenders without her.
She's on a strength class right up there with Ben Grimm, the lovable Thing. And she's a hella lot better to look at than Prince Namor on his best day, right, guys?

What she brings to the party: Power and glamour. Power and glamour. :wink:

3) Nighthawk

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Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that he's wearing what must be one of the most ridiculous costumes ever donned by a superhero, Nighthawk is also someone who just belongs on this team.

Starting his career as a super-villain, spoiled bored rich kid Kyle Richmond quickly learned that it's better to do on the side of good, than get your face punched in by whatever spandexed yahoo happened to be around.

Since joining the Defenders, he has had, what I feel, is one of the most vital roles out of any of the other characters in any series. Here's a character whose real-world point of view can add a stark contrast to the viewpoints of, say, a Son of Satan or a Valkyrie. He's a character who can be just as comfortable talking to a visiting Beast as to the Silver Surfer. He's the one who's least likely to judge anybody else in the book, and makes for a fine card-carrying second-in-command that the leader can consult with if he needs to.

He's the "everyman" here, folks. Namely, he represents YOUR presence in the comic.

Don't let a character like this get away.

What he brings to the party: A touch of the "old guard" tossed in with the team's emotional lynchpin. If Valkyrie is your ideal, this guy is your heart.

4) Luke Cage

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Gee, where do I begin?

The problem with a book like the Defenders is that the more outlandish your stories get, the more you risk the chance of your characters and storylines just getting downright silly. When you have a line-up that involves the Silver Surfer, Doc Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, etc....well, it gets hard to think of something besides a cosmic-level threat every time to face against them.

I mean, sure, maybe Jack Kirby could get away with one character shouting, "It's the Infinity Chalice! Quickly, grab it before the Ultranaught finds us, or the creases of reality will rip!" to his equally god-like partners.

But ONLY Jack Kirby can get away with comments like that. That's why he's the King, people.

With the gruff but lovable Luke "Hero for Hire" Cage added on, you have a street-level mentality connected to a team to keep it from aspiring to those higher levels of grandeur. He's the voice that will shout out if at any point he feels that, y'know, the team is kinda missing the POINT of being heroes and forgetting about the little people.

What he brings to the party: A conscience, a sense of humor, and a sense of proportion to keep egos from getting inflated.

That, and he's the last person in the universe who will ever shriek, "It's the Infinity Chalice!" :D

Okay, so, that gives us our four key characters. Strap yourself down, folks, cause from here on out, it's gonna get weird.

As well it should.

These ARE the Defenders we're talking about, here. :wink:


Last edited by Rakka on Sat May 01, 2004 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 3:21 pm 
Hold onto your ankles and go to your happy places, folks. It's Part 2 of my Defenders line-up.

5) The Juggernaut

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Cause sometimes, you just really need somebody else whose presence can make Thor hesitate before joining in the eventual 'hero vs hero' brawl that always happens. :D

Hey, hear me out. I was right about the Valkyrie, wasn't I?

Cain Marko, a.k.a. The Juggernaut (with a capital T and J, if he so wishes), has spent most of his life primarily being a bad guy due to a lot of misplaced rage at his brother, Charles Xavier. Lately, he seems to have been attempting to do better in life including going on trial for crimes, saving the world from some similarly powered characters in a recent Avengers storyline, and kicking the high-holy spit out of a very freaked out D'Spayre.

It always helps to have one character whose personal mantra seems to be "the madder I get, the more likely I'm going to keep getting up and coming at you", only instead of the Hulk, you want someone who isn't just as likely to start hitting his own teammates in the confusion.

Plus, you've got that whole 'powers come from a dark malevolent GOD' thing that the Son of Satan might just want to keep an eye on. Y'know, just in case.

What he brings to the party: A walking tank looking for redemption. You can't go wrong with that.

6) Nightcrawler

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The acrobatic and charming Kurt Wagner has always seemed, to me, rather misplaced with the X-Men. Even amongst his own teammates, he seemed like the perpetual outsider, moreso than Wolverine (who could at least walk to the corner store without needing advanced technology to disguise himself). Many authors tried to make him a "fuzzy elf" character (*gag*), but I always liked him back at the beginning, when he was doing what he did best. Being dark, spooky, and a bit otherworldly. He was the perfect example of a "doomed hero."

Between his deep affection for churches and religion, his shame of his appearance, and his twisted sense of humor, he was a tragic character the likes of which hadn't been seen since a certain green goliath first rumbled onto the scene and started throwing tanks around.

I mean, let's look at this. Peter Parker's married to a buxom supermodel, is a dashing young hero, and is a scientific genius to boot, while Nightcrawler is a misshapen (let's not pull punches here) freak who can't even stick his head out a window without priests and police being called.

We're supposed to believe that Nightcrawler's going to skip around merrily while Peter routinely measures the circumference of his wrist with a kitchen knife? The mind just boggles.

What he brings to the party: A wit as sharp as his sword, and a deep sense of tragedy, if we play our cards right.

7) Stingray

Image

Yeah, we're getting pretty obscure here. But this guy is just too damn cool not to make it onto this list.

Here's the backstory for you who are still rather wet-behind-the-ears.

Hired by the United States Government to figure out a means of finding, battling, and subduing the Sub-Mariner (a mighty quest for any individual), oceanographer Walter Newell designed the Stringray suit and wore it himself since, y'know, if you're not willing to test out your own experiments, how can you honestly have someone else try them?

And the gee-golly thing worked. Prince Namor was captured, and put on public display for all to see. Keep in mind, this was during a time where Namor's public image pretty much consisted of him: A) invading the "surface world" every other week, and B) being the Marvel Universe's biggest jackass.

But that was it. The guy had no urge to go traipsing about, fighting crime, battling Doctor Doom every other month, or anything else. When it came right down to it, our good man here was simply a scientist seeing if it could be done.

Now, take that desire and scientific knowlege, and throw them in with this ragtag lot... I think you know where I'm going with this.

Besides, it's always good to have one water-travelling member on the team, and I already swore off the Sub-Mariner.

8 and 9) Cloak and Dagger

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And the pit of obscurity just keeps getting deeper and deeper, huh? :D

Look, it's already been established that, when you boil this team down to its base elements, we're going a tad bit darker than many writers have gone in the past.

BUT. In order for that to work, you need that one beacon of light to counteract that darkness. Somebody who can be the Shadowcat (or Jubilee, I guess, if you're into that sort of thing) to your Wolverine and keep you from crossing that final line.

That's where Dagger comes in. This is a girl whose idealism and innocence could melt (or at least soften) the heart of anybody else on this team and get them to stand down from punching somebody's head into their pelvis.

Plus, it's a visual medium. If we don't have more eye candy in here soon for you guys, there'll be a revolt. So here, a special gift:

Image

Yeah, you know you like the idea.

On the flipside, however, we have Cloak. A man who can see the darkness in a person's very soul and is all too happy to judge them based on that rather than if they plan on redeeming themselves. We call this "two sides, one coin" when it comes to this pairing. His cloak acts as a gateway to another dimension where those he banishes suffer appropriately (in his mind) for their crimes.

What they bring to the party: A working if tense relationship (always good), innocence with a touch of sexy, and a character who's going to garner conflict within with his "the best way to keep a thief from stealing is to chop off his hands" mentality.

10) Moon Knight

Image

Every now and again, someone at Marvel gets the bright idea to try to turn him into the next "Real American Hero."

Oh, please.

The guy had never seemed that comfortable bumping elbows with your high-profile heroes of the day. He's one of the few heroes I know that lit his own Avengers membership card on fire and tosses it onto the table in front of the other team members.

Let's see what's going on with him:

He's an ex-mercenary for hire.

He's been protrayed as suffering from a rather severe case of Multiple Personality Disorder.

He's the earthly servitor of Konshu, the ancient Egyptian "moon god" or whatever he goes by.

Yeah, he belongs up there bumping elbows with Captain America. :?

However, we have room for such an oddball character here! After all, one day around these guys, he's going to feel downright normal. :D

What he brings to the party: A sense of mystery and resolve. And, one of the coolest costumes in comics history, to boot.

11) The Sandman

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Poor Sandman. Marvel can't decide what to do with this poor schlub.

Every time a writer gets his hands on the character, he either goes from being a cold-blooded supervillain to the ultimate "hard luck Joe" of the Marvel set. He gets bounced back and forth so often, they should have named him "Speedball." I'm just saying, is all.

Sounds like perfect Defenders material to me.

The guy has met (and traded blows with) a majority of the other heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe. No matter where this team goes, this guy's got the connections.

Besides, he's made of sand! That's freakish enough to all but have 'Approved' stamped on his silicone butt.

What he brings to the party: See above.

12) Tagak the Leopard Lord

Image

This one should be painfully obvious.

So, with that, I-....what do you MEAN you've never heard of this guy before?

Oh for crying out loud, people.

Okay, here goes. Tagak first appeared in Daredevil #72 way back in 1970. He's from a mirror dimension of our own world, and has a deep sense of calm and inner strength. He's loathe to ever reduce to physical violence, but can kick some serious hiney when he needs to.

Plus, he's also, for all intents and purposes, blind, only able to see through the eyes of his large leopard familiar "Opar". He can also essentially teleport to anywhere he needs to go, so long as there's a mirror here he can step into, and a mirror there he can step out of.

In other words, this guy's weird.

Perfect to round out this team.

What he brings to the party: Calm. Reason. Self-control. And a huge-ass kitty cat. :D

So, in the immortal words of MST3K...

"What do you think, sirs?"


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 6:51 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:57 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:16 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:18 pm 
Me with a big gun.

Hey, I'm better than most of the usual lineup.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:37 pm 


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PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 12:08 am 


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PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 6:53 pm 


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PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 8:47 pm 
Wow... And here I thought I was the only remaining Defenders fan. :wink:
Awesome lineup! Nice balance overall and some interesting choices. I heartily approve of the first four: the "core team" if you will.

Son of Satan: one of my long time fav's and a member of the 2nd generation team. Spooky, smart and brooding, plus he covers the Doc Strange angle.

Valkyrie: Had to be in the team. She is to the Defenders what Martian Manhunter is to the JLA-- the single thread linking the past teams with the present team and teams yet-to-be.

Nighthawk: You said everything that needed to be said except-- someone's got to pay the bills. Why not him? Yeah, definitely make sure its rich, playboy Kyle, not the bland, flying Captain America version that showed up occasionally. Plus that way you can bounce him off of...

Luke Cage: Awwwww YEAH! I've read his books since the very beginning, and while my personal fav is the classic PM/IF series, its nice to see him away from Danny Rand. This is the guy who can keep the team grounded and remind them of why exactly they're called the Defenders. Plus, it would be fun to see him and the rich kid Nighthawk interact.

The rest all work for me, more or less except...

(You knew I was gonna have to argue with you somewhere.)

Stingray: I've never really cared for him and I find it doubtful that he'll ever be more than a tech fix answer to a given plotline's problem. I'd rather that the scientist aspect get handed to a third party, maybe a non-combatant. Replace him with...

Jessica Jones: The team needs a detective and her connection to Luke makes her perfect. She might not be in every story arc, but I think she'd be a great addition. Plus, higher babe count!

Juggernaut: Sorry, but while he has become an interesting character, he's just too damn powerful for our little group. Not only does he overshadow Luke and Val, but anything which can seriously hurt him will smear the rest of the team. So, off he goes, and in comes...

Ghostrider: That's right, the baddest ass in black leather EVAH!! Screw Lobo, this hellbound biker is the real main man! And he adds some needed air support and firepower.


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PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 9:31 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2004 7:26 pm 
One thing: wasn't the whole point of the Defenders to deal with wacky cosmic hijinks? And I thought the excuse for Dr. Strange, Hulk, Namor, and the Silver Surfer teaming up was because they were basically forced to by some sort of curse.


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