Saturday, 12 March 2011

Defenders #23. The Sons of the Serpent.

The Defenders #23, the Sons of the Serpent
Now, you see, this is why I should be leader of a criminal organisation. Leaving aside the fact I'm a being of pure evil who likes to stride around town in thigh-length boots and a mask, I can spot certain things lesser villains can't. Take the Sons of the Serpent. Whenever I've read a story featuring them, their modus operandi's been to try and convince white America that they're the good guys and to side with them in their battle against reason.

This being the case, you'd've thought that calling yourselves the Sons of the Serpent isn't exactly the best way to convince people you're the good guys. Maybe they'd have been better off naming themselves something more appealing like the Kin of the Kittens or the Brotherhood of the Fluffy Bunny Rabbits.

Not that it makes much difference. Whatever they're called, the Sons Of are back to their old tricks - and this time it's down to the Defenders to stop them. Being the Defenders, they of course make a total Horlicks of it and're soon captured, meaning we finish the tale with the Sons Of making their plans to dispose once and for all of their brand new arch-enemies.

But nothing's ever straightforward in The Defenders and, urgent though it may be, the battle with the Sons Of is only part of the tale as, in the course of events, the Valkyrie for the first time meets her husband Jack Norris - setting up a less than cosy relationship that goes on for several months to come - while Yellowjacket, enduring some kind of mid-life career crisis, teams up with the Defenders. Clearly, the disease that renders the Defenders incompetent in the face of all threats afflicts him too and he's quickly captured after twisting his ankle. Even the Hulk's not immune to this syndrome. In his own mag, just one pound of the pavement from his fist'd be enough to defeat a handful of goons with stun guns but here, appearing in his role as a Defender, it's not long before he too's lying flat on his face.

Of course, no complaints about the mag stick. It's the Defenders, which means it's great. Steve Gerber writes it how it should be written - even if I'd've liked the Sons Of to speak a bit posher - Sal Buscema draws it right, and the much abused Vince Colletta does a perfectly good job of inking it. Apart from the ease with which the Sons Of take out a group of characters as powerful as the Hulk, the Valkyrie and Dr Strange, I really only have one gripe about the issue, which is that when the leader of the Sons Of makes his obligatory speech on national TV, we're given it in tiny white print on a black background. Don't the people who conceive such ideas realise that some of us are getting on a bit and have to hold the comic about two inches away from our nose to read such things? This isn't dignified for a criminal mastermind.

Then again, with fallibility like that, maybe I should be a Defender.

But then, if I were a Defender, I couldn't be leader of the Brotherhood of the Fluffy Bunnies.

The choices one has to make in life.

5 comments:

Lazarus Lupin said...

Actually there's a historical lynchpin for the sons of the serpents to hang their hats on. Remember one of the original rebel flags was a snake bearing the motto "Don't tread on me,' a smart sons of the serpent would say they are part of the same patriotic line.

Lazarus Lupin
http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/
art and review

Steve said...

I must admit I wasn't aware of that. That's the wonder of the Internet - I learn new things every day. I'm sure that flag would've looked better if it'd had a bunny rabbit on it though. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
I see no conflict between being a supervillain and being in the Defenders. Hulk, the Surfer & Subby have been perceived as baddies, Nighthawk, Hawkeye and Valkyrie started off as baddies, Black Knight took over from his bad uncle, Yellowjacket did time later, Power Man was a reformed crim, and the Son of Satan, well, there's a clue in the name. Probably a good job they're a bit inept. If they'd ever got together over a pint and plotted world domination type naughtiness, we'd have been in some trouble.

Richard

Steve said...

Suddenly I feel so heartened. This means I can be a super-villain and a Defender. Sadly, the price I'll have to pay is a certain level of incompetence but incompetence has always been my specialist subject.

david_b said...

Love Yellowjacket in this story.., yeah, the ankle's a bit weak for knockin' him out, but LOVE Sal's art in here, first time I really got to see Dr. Pym in action.

Actually customized my Famous Cover Falcon to be YJ, as you see in my avatar in homage to his appearance here, complete with laser pistol. I left his face 'dark', like he just came back from a relaxing vacation.

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