Take 10

Take 10: The Defenders

The greatest members of Marvel’s greatest non-team take center stage

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Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. They may not be Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Marvel's First Family, or even mutants—for the most part—but the Defenders have always carved out their own unique niche among the heroic teams from the House of Ideas. With one incarnation of the Defenders concluding their battle with opposite number, the Offenders, this week in HULK #12, the Secret Cabal felt this a perfect opportunity to select their favorite members of Marvel's premiere "non-team." For each character you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!
 

10. NIGHTHAWK First Appearance: AVENGERS #71 (1969) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #14 (1974) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "A massively wealthy reformed villain, Kyle Richmond, ranks as one of the longest-tenured Defenders in the team's history. Never necessarily the best or most helpful member of the team, he's probably the most dedicated Defender, always ready to jump in to help out the team when they need him. To this day, Kyle is trying to keep the Defenders legacy alive when everybody else has forgotten about it." – Secret Cabal member Agent_M Spotlight Comic: THE LAST DEFENDERS #1—Nighthawk tries for one more shot at glory with the Defenders!

9. CLOUD First Appearance: DEFENDERS #123 (1983) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #127 (1984) Why He/She Makes the List: "The only S/He-ro we have in the Marvel Universe, Cloud is a tricky fella/lady. Not only because it seemed like his/her only power was to change genders, but because Cloud is actually a sentient nebula. This cosmic entity not only added mystery to the 'New' Defenders, and some racy imagery thanks to the character's costume only being a few well-placed clouds! Cloud left Earth to be back among the stars, but if there is ever another swimsuit special, this is the only character that could have two entries." – Secret Cabal member RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: DEFENDERS #2 (2005)—In lieu of a Cloud appearance, enjoy the Hulk vs Umar and the Mindless Ones!

8. BEAST First Appearance: X-MEN #1 (1963) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #104 (1982) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "Sure, Beast's both a veteran X-Man and Avenger, but he also shined as a Defender, bringing his ape-ly awesomeness to the team. Genius? Check. Powerhouse? Definitely. Comedic relief? Of course. We love Beast no matter what team he's on, but he brought a special panache to the Defenders that they always seemed to be missing. He also brought Angel and Iceman along with him, sowing the seeds of the original X-Factor." – Agent_M Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #144—Beast inaugurates a fellow future Defender, Hellcat, into the Avengers!

7. HELLCAT First Appearance: MISS AMERICA MAGAZINE #2 (1944) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #44 (1977) Learn More About Her…here Why She Makes the List: "Unquestionably, Patsy Walker is one of the more unique voices in the Marvel Universe—whereas most of our heroes spend a lot of time moping and grumbling, Patsy prefers pep and pizzazz, even when she's kicking butt as Hellcat. Imagine how well a perky redhead played among the likes of Doctor Strange and Gargoyle and you can start to see why it was fun to have Hellcat as part of the Defenders. Still, despite their best efforts, most of the group curmudgeon's eventually succumbed to Patsy's charms, including the Son of Satan himself, leading to a marriage we'd…rather not talk about." – Secret Cabal member Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #1 (2007)—Solo Hellcat excitement!

6. VALKYRIE First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK #142 (1971) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #4 (1973) Learn More About Her…here Why She Makes the List: "A woman apart from the world where she belongs, of course Valkyrie would end up with the Defenders, a group that basically exists to give lost souls a common ground, even if just for awhile. Unlike some other members of the team, Valkyrie didn't have much of a life—at least initially—to get in the way of her Defenders duties, so she threw herself into being on the team full speed. Watching a confident, powerful female presence butt heads with the likes of Namor and Doctor Strange will never get old." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: ULTIMATES 2 #6—Ultimate Valkyrie and the Ultimate Defenders debut!

5. GARGOYLE First Appearance: DEFENDERS #94 (1981) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #94 (1981) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "He's not cranky because he looks like that, he's just really tired! You would be too if, like Isaac Christians, you were an elderly man before you sold your soul and became the hero known as Gargoyle. He has had his body destroyed, been turned into a gemstone, and had a new body created for him, all while serving with his fellow Defenders. Recently, he left Camp Hammond where he was training the next generation of heroes to 'retire,' but given his history, something tells me he'll be pulled back into the hero game whether he likes it or not!" – RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: UNIVERSE X #1—Isaac Christians takes on a new role in the future of Universe X!

4. THE SILVER SURFER First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #48 (1966) Joined the Defenders: DEFENDERS #2 (1972) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "The first people on Earth the Silver Surfer ever met and befriended were the Fantastic Four, and though he has continued to help them out through the years, the Sky-Rider of the Spaceways has never officially joined their ranks. Likewise, the Avengers may be Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but they've never counted the uber-powerful Norrin Radd among their number. Indeed, only the Defenders can say they've had the Silver Surfer on their active duty roster, and that's quite the feather in any cap. The liberating lack of schedule provided by the Defenders allows for the inclusion of first rate freelancers like the Surfer to do stints, and given how rarely our silver pal teams with Earth heroes, that's a treat for readers." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: TALES TO ASTONISH #93—Before becoming Defenders, the Silver and the Hulk do battle!

3. NAMOR First Appearance: marvel comics #1 (1939) Joined the Defenders: MARVEL FEATURE #1 (1971) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "The Sub-Mariner doesn't really like many people—or at least surface dwellers—and his fellow Defenders are no exception, but he at least made the effort. Granted, that effort could be a strain, particularly when the crown prince of Atlantis had to put up with ruffians like the Hulk. If the Defenders were a bar like 'Cheers,' Namor was Frasier, rolling his eyes at the foolishness surrounding him, but still doing his best to help those poor uncultured buffoons." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: DEFENDERS #1 (1972)—With Namor's life in peril, it's Doctor Strange and the Hulk to the rescue!

2. THE HULK First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK #1 (1962) Joined the Defenders: MARVEL FEATURE #1 (1971) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "When you look up 'team player' in any encyclopedia, the likelihood of finding reference to the Hulk is slim to nil. Despite being a founding member of the Avengers, the Green Goliath is clearly not one who plays well with others—and yet for years, he served dutifully as a Defender. Even a gamma-irradiated monster needs a place to belong, and alongside some of the Marvel Universe's other misfit toys, even if only for a relatively brief time, the Hulk found his. Sure ol' Green Genes punched it out with Namor more often than he hugged it out, but he formed bonds that run to this day with his Defenders brethren. Also, who didn't enjoy watching Valkyrie and Nighthawk try and calm the Hulkster down when he had a hankering for baked beans?" – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: TALES TO ASTONISH #100—The Hulk squabbles with future Defenders teammate the Sub-Mariner!

1. DOCTOR STRANGE First Appearance: STRANGE TALES #110 (1963) Joined the Defenders: MARVEL FEATURE #1 (1971) Learn More About Him…here Why He Makes the List: "If a team like the Defenders that claims to have no formal roster, charter or loyalty can have a heart and soul, Doctor Strange would be it. A massively powerful mystic like the former Sorcerer Supreme is not the type you'd expect to gel well with any sort of grouping, but Strange always saw the importance of the Defenders, and took time out of his hectic existence to insure their shared survival even when he wasn't on active duty. In the dynamic of the Defenders, with temper tamper-prone titans like the Hulk and Namor as well as underachievers looking to make it big like Nighthawk and Hellcat, Doc Strange was kinda like the cranky but sage uncle: you may have made fun of him behind his cloak, but deep down, everybody loved the codger." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: DEFENDERS #1 (2005)—Doctor Strange reunites the Defenders to face the threat of the dread Dormammu! Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" and "Wolverine and the X-Men" now on iTunes!

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Comments

3 comments
notapotatoe
notapotatoe

I really miss this team..I 'm rather fan of the second-core members of the group :Nighthawk, the Gargoyle, Valkyrie, Hellstrom and Hellcat, Devil Slayer,...I wouldn't ba against Ghost Rider too.And also if there's a place where we could find again the old fan-favourite dynamic duo made by the Beast and Wonder Man, I think this is here.The first characters, the Top 4, had always been misunderestimated to my opinion, and it could be great also if they were united again...in contrary, doing of the Defenders Marvel's official weird team again would be a mistake...

jarreth28
jarreth28

Wow what a surprise! Before I even pulled up this article I knew Dr. Strange/Namor/Hulk/Silver Surfer would be the top 4!You'd think a team that only last a few issues as the original, would have people quit thinking it was the ONLY iteration of Defenders that mattered! Let's face it IF that team of 4 was so great, Silver Surfer would have lasted more than a handful of issues out of 152 of the original issues. Ditto on Subby!Dr. Strange and Hulk at least got more mileage!My personal favorite will always be any team than includes Valk and Hellcat and NightHawk. Least two out of those three.

micronaut29
micronaut29

Valkyrie's ex-husband, and constant powersless grump, Jack was always my personal favorite Defender. I don't know why...just something about a completely powerless guy who's constantly creased at the world and generally unhelpful seemed like a fun addition to the non-team. He, in fact, was the archetypal non-member of the non-team—very zen. And it was his awful attempt to be a James Bond style counter-agent in Defenders annual 1 which totally endeared him to me.My second favorite Defender is Son of Satan, another unlikely member of an unlikely team. I mean, if you're forming a super group, are you really going to be like, "Hey, guys! We should totally let THE SON OF SATAN into our super group! Wouldn't that be swell?