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- The Ten Day Barrier

Subj: Defenders Essentials vol. 3 - (with Keith Giffen Moon Knight splash gallery, kinda...)
Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 at 07:35:36 am EDT (Viewed 182 times)


The only ESSENTIALS or SHOWCASE I've read in ten days before now is FANTASTIC FOUR vol. 6. Now DEFENDERS vol. 3 joins that bracket. And I wonder if there will ever be one that causes me to Super-consume it in one week flat...

This is the DEFENDERS experience I vaguely anticipated for volume 2. With the GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS issues obviously needing inclusion, naturally all that Steve Gerberness could not be contained there; hence, half of 3 is Gerber's grand homerun of absurdity and giggles. And it's a knockout!

Ruby Thursday, the multi-organic globeular warhead! Arthur Nagan, the man a head of his gorilla! Jeroid Morgan, the Droopy-faced poindexter! Chondu - the less than first-rate, frustrated and idiot sorcerer who ended up trapped in "Bambi" Why, it's the Headmen! Who dovetail through out a series of stories where their presence is always felt but they are not always central. Include in that Nebulon - back as an apparent cosmic dweeb with the power of half a million copies of HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE in his ever-so-convincing aura...

But the plot is complex without being convoluted, so since space here is short, of necessity, moving right along...

Gerber's DEFENDERS did what comics used to, which is make each issue stand as something worthwhile by itself, despite the running epic storylines. Gerber threaded them with the best: Englehart's AVENGERS.

Working in the light of the first half of this book, the follow-up Dave Kraft era follows on quite nicely. The art throughout goes roughly Sal Buscema/Jim Mooney, Sal/Klaus Janson segueing into Giffen/Janson. Nice transitions. Giffen and Janson begin abruptly - Conway starts the ball rolling and Dave Kraft and Roger Slifer finish out dialoging the Red Rajah 4-parter.

I'm quite the fan of the raw Keith Giffen here. His Scorpio/Nick Fury LMD/Zodiac work is amazing. It's Kirbyesque, but coming from him, Wow! It's good Kirbyesque!!

The Presence with Red Guardian in tow is also amazing.

It's surprising how appealing the characters of Valkyrie and Nighthawk are again, after such a reading-gap. They got old fast more or less after the period this volume covers, so sometime post-#60.

Dave Kraft noticeably is at his worst scripting the two Carmine Infantino issues. He fills in gaps with a lot of distracting prose, piling it on thickly (#55 and 56.) On the whole, Kraft does a pretty cool job. Liberal handwringing is at the core of things, but the story comes first. Yeah, I like Kraft's contribution to the DEFENDERS canon. Dollar Bill and Ledge are probably love-them-or-hate-them for most people - I found them at least well-suited, displaying a refreshing touch for the shifting cast of the Non-Team. Dave kept apt-to-whine Jack Norris fresh, as well, not that he isn't burdened. The Hellcat - she was another nice add-on. Almost fresh from the Englehart AVENGERS. And very fresh from tuition from Moondragon.

Moon Knight deserves his own paragraph, as much for the issue drawn by Giffen and inked by Kirby Inker Emeritus (anyway, I'll call it that) the brilliant Mike Royer. (#49.)

Other "art-calls": Dan Green's thin but supportive inks suit Giffen a heck of a lot more in black and white. Ed Hannigan isn't exactly Neal Adams, but he seems like a holiday after Infantino. Now, strangely enough, those issues are one of the biggest nostalgia trips in the volume, for me. I was away on holiday when I originally had them/soaked them up. It's fascinating to study the great Klaus Janson coming to the party on this sloppy work. He really gives it depth, texture and impact! And colour, which chewed up the inks of Dan Green, worked in reverse here, giving it at least a corona of respectability with its own buzz. It helped that Klaus even coloured one! (Dave Kraft coloured the other.)

Blue Oyster Cult helps out the Vera Gemini stories at the completion of this volume. (Listening to...)

Elf With a Gun? Yup, he/it's in there as well.

Best Hulk quote: the splash page of Evil in Bloom in #37:

"No! Men try to fool Hulk... but Hulk is too smart! Horse is dying! Hulk knows!"

Kraft wrote the Hulk as much more of a menace to his own team. Succeeding Dr Strange as leader, "Birdnose" didn't quite have the same ability to humour and comfort the Hulk as "Magician."

Reading: Just finishing off Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, I'm poking my nose into THE GLASS BEAD GAME by Herman Hesse to see if I can get started on that. I finished the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA SHOWCASE vol 4 in no time. It's a segue into the Satellite Era. Beyond this volume, I'm reading through originals I've got: #87-89, 95, 96, 99-106, 108 and 109 (selected at the moment.) On a Dick Dillin/Joe Giella spree, I'm also rereading many of the WORLD'S FINEST when it was a Superman team-up book before DC COMICS PRESENT ever saw the light of day: #198 (Flash), #200 (Robin), #201 (Green Lantern), #202 (Batman), #204 (Wonder Woman), #205 (the Teen Titans), #208 (Dr Fate), #209 (Hawkman), #210 (Green Arrow), #212 (Martian Manhunter) #213 (Atom) and #214 (Vigilante.) I've just about finished GREEN LANTERN SHOWCASE vol. 3, as well. Kane was on the loose inking himself frequently then.
Listening: The Band has put me in mind of Van Morrison though I haven't dug any out as yet. I've been digging out more Stooges. Also: Patti Smith Group, Fugazi and Joy Division.
Watching: Caught a great doco on the Alaska Pipeline. Tried watching some MAD TV. Ten per cent of it is funny; otherwise the ads are a Godsend.
Flick: BASEKETBALL. Much better than I thought it would be! It can be watched as a straight, preachy Hollywood film at the same time. Robert Vaughn and Robert Stack cracked me up. Ernest Borgnine was fun, too. I suppose I should go and see WATCHMEN - but I haven't even seen QUANTUM OF SOLACE and it's almost out on dvd.
RIP: Frank Springer