By Marc Strom
They say the best offense is a good defense. Next month, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness put that old chestnut to the test in HULK #11, on sale April 22, as the Defenders and Offenders face off for the very first time!
Caught in a game of cosmic chess between the Grandmaster and the Collector, the Defenders—made up of Hulk, Namor, Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer, each plucked from different periods in their personal histories—must fend off Red Hulk, Tiger Shark, Baron Mordo and Terrax if they hope to save the lives of the women they love.
Loeb cites the Grandmaster's own logic when explaining why he decided to pick each Defender from different points in Marvel's history:
"I think the Grandmaster says it best in HULK #10: he plucked the Defenders from exact moments when they lost the one they loved," the writer reflects. "Ironically, or maybe not so much, each of the characters had a story told about that particular subject. Note to self: Don't fall in love in the Marvel Universe!
"By picking that exact moment, each of those heroes—not unlike ourselves—would do anything
to get back their loved one. So if you're going to fight, you fight for a righteous cause."
As for why the Grandmaster and Collector have decided to pit their respective teams against each other, Loeb says that their behavior doesn't seem all that different from what anyone else would do with some free time on their hands.
"It's the game," he relates. "These are Elders of the Universe. What are they going to do? Play 'Halo' on their cosmic X-Box?! And I happen to be one of those fans who thinks the Defenders are cool and need to come back and kick ass!"
The Red Hulk has assembled a team made up of villains who have faced their Defenders opponents any number of times. Now, before the main event hits stands later this month, Marvel.com and Jeph Loeb take you through each individual rivalry in the Defenders vs Offenders grudge match.
Strap in and get ready for a rollicking trip through the hallowed history of Marveldom, True Believer!
Hulk vs Red Hulk
Since Red Hulk first appeared little more than a year ago, he's managed to cause a good deal of trouble for ol' Green Genes. With Red Hulk's true identity still shrouded in mystery, he represents the most unknown quantity on the Offenders' roster—will that be enough to throw the Defenders for a loop?
"They've fought twice, each winning one time," notes Loeb. "Each knows the other's weaknesses. But there's a big
difference. Green Hulk is now smart
Green Hulk. Should be interesting to see if that levels the playing field."
Silver Surfer vs Terrax
Both former Heralds of Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Terrax have met many times as both allies and antagonists. Though they both wield remnants of the Power Cosmic, Terrax certainly has the experience in this situation. And unfortunately for the Silver Surfer, Terrax doesn't have much of a reputation for going easy on his opponents.
"Here's where the plucking from time really gives Terrax the advantage," warns Loeb. "Norrin Radd has been the Silver Surfer for about an hour when this story takes place. Terrax had been a Herald for years in Marvel time, and more importantly has knowledge of the Surfer's future."
Namor vs Tiger Shark
The first time Tiger Shark and Namor fought, the Sub-Mariner's nemesis claimed Atlantis' throne. While his reign only lasted a short time, the two clashed a number of times afterwards. And though Namor always won, Loeb suggests that this battle may not end as quickly as fans would expect.
"Ed and I are huge
Tiger Shark fans," the writer confesses. "Usually he gets the crud beaten out of him and that's that. So we amped his power and gave him adamantium teeth. He's a total badass now. Don't count him out!"
Doctor Strange vs Baron Mordo
Much like Stephen Strange, Baron Mordo gained his mastery of the mystic arts under the Ancient One's tutelage. However, Mordo soon proved unworthy of those teachings, and ever since Strange has had to repel the Baron's constant attacks.
"I love these two guys," says Loeb. "They worked together when Strange started out. Mordo was in a weird way the good guy when Strange was being the arrogant surgeon. So they are pretty evenly matched. Only, now Mordo has the ego problem and Strange is very confident.
"We picked the time when [Strange] wore the mask strictly as a fanboy thing. I'm pretty sure most readers aren't aware that back in the day the Doctor Strange comic was about to be cancelled, and so for a few issues, maybe three, Marvel tried to make him more 'superhero-y.' It didn't work, and the book still got cancelled. The interesting thing—at least to me—is the next time you saw Doc Strange was in the very first Defenders appearance."
Loeb left off with a history quiz for fans:
"Challenge to the readers out there: When was the very first Defenders appearance? Here's a hint: It was not
in DEFENDERS #1!"
Get ringside seats for HULK #11 on April 22! And have more fun with the Defenders at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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