Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Love The 90's: The Secret Defenders

Happy Hump Day People!!!!!

Remember this series from the 90's?

Yup, the Secret Defenders.

And would you look at that cover to issue? My god if that doesn't tell you it's a 90's comic, I don't know what to tell you.

Let's look at the assembled roster of heroes presented to us:

-Wolverine: Besides being a member of the short-lived NU FF with Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider, this was another instance on Marvel's part to further capitalize on Wolverine's huge popularity by placing him non-X-Men team to boost sales. This wouldn't be the last time this would happen either, as well know all-too well, especially in the 00's where he was pretty much a member of every team Marvel had up until his recent death.

-Spider-Woman: It's probably hard to believe it now, but once upon a time Julia Carpenter, a.k.a. Spider-Woman was pretty popular. She was a West Coast Avenger around this time frame and had a decent enough fan base. Now she's dead and pretty much forgotten by most comic fans outside of hardcore comic nerds who know their history.

-Nomad: Like poor Julia, so too was one Jack Monroe popular(-ish). Well popular enough to earn his own solo title for a couple years. Jack was the former sidekick/Bucky of a retconned into being evil Captain America substitute, and  had a really hard life growing up. After his solo series ended, he pretty much bounced around the MU aimlessly until he was killed off  for shock value by the Winter Soldier/O.G. Bucky when writer Ed Brubaker resurrected Bucky once he took over Captain America.

-Darkhawk: Like Nomad, he too was ounce popular enough to earn his own solo title for awhile.
Like so many before him, Darkhawk was yet another attempt by Marvel at duplicating the same basic formula of youthful everyman suffers tragedy and gains incredible power that made Spider-Man such a mainstream hit. Except Darkhawk, much like his predecessors failed to achieve the same long-lasting success that the wall-crawler had. By the time the 90's ended, so too did the Darkhawk experiment, and the poor guy would be relegated to hell that is comic limbo, hoping to be used again. Which isn't to say he didn't enjoy membership in a few teams like the West Coast Avengers( Reserve Member) the New Warriors, and the Loners. He just didn't make it like he really should've.

Playing Charlie to these super-powered "Angels" was Dr. Strange.

The premise you see, was that using magic tarot cards, he'd pick seemingly random heroes for whatever mission needed undertaking.
Once the whole thing was over, everybody would go their separate ways, and Dr. Strange would do this again and again with other sets of seemingly random crime-fighters. And he certainly did starting all the back to 1993.

So really, if you think about it, this incarnation of the Defenders was really more of a non-team than even the original non-team group.

Eventually Dr. Strange was forced to hand the reins of the whole operation over to Dr Druid( One of the worst Avengers ever).

That's pretty much when the series went to shit, since they started using new, but really bland and generic "heroes" who were super dark, and looked and acted more like villains than anything else.

The series was then cancelled in 1995 with #25.

I remember picking up the first issue(probably because of the shiny foil cover like everyone else did) and thinking it was alright, mostly for the characters they used (with the exception of Nomad. Didn't really know or care much about him), but stopped buying subsequent issues after that; partly because of lack of interest and because of availability. I mostly bought comics off the racks (god I miss those days!) and didn't start really start visiting comic shops on a regular basis until I got older.

The last issues I bought were the ones where Thanos assembled his own team of Secret Defenders (Well really Offenders). This was back when Ron Marz wrote the series for a very brief time, and I instantly loved the concept of a team of super-villains playing the roles of the heroes of sorts, especially with someone as bad-ass as Thanos leading them. The whole Infinity Trilogy was my jam as a kid, so I was already very familiar with Thanos. Add in other members like Rhino, Titanium Man (Remember when Paul McCartney wrote a song with him in it?) Nitro, and the Super-Skrull.

It may not exactly have been a new concept, but outside of a passing knowledge of the Suicide Squad at that point, it was still fresh to me. Hell, I didn't even mind the really rough art by Tom Grindberg. And trust me it was really fucking tough to look at sometimes.

Anyhoo, the concept of the Secret Defenders works for me, and could still if Marvel could really get behind it and put a decently exciting creative team on the book.

I'm saying it'll sell Deadpool or X-Men circa early 90's numbers, but with the right writer and artist on board, there's no telling how far it could go.

So what about you guys? Did you ever pick this up back in the day? And if you did, what were your favorite stories and rosters?

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