Monday, 6 December 2010

Defenders #9. Hawkeye v Iron Man. Mantis & the Panther v Dr Strange.

Defenders #9, Avengers vs Defenders. Hawkeye vs Iron Man, Mantis and the Black Panther vs Dr Strange
If there's one thing worse than a mismatch, it's two mismatches and, because of that, The Defenders #9 shouldn't work at all as we get Hawkeye vs Iron Man and then the Black Panther and Mantis vs Dr Strange. In fact it works beautifully, giving us another highly enjoyable slice of super-hero cake.

First though, thanks to his insistence of coming on to every woman he meets, Hawkeye has to survive a quick set-to with his designated driver the Valkyrie. Fortunately for him, her annoyed sword-swipe doesn't take off his head and he's free to take on his real opponent.

Now, logically there's no way Hawkeye's going to last more than five seconds against Iron Man, let alone beat him but if logic ruled comics, there wouldn't be a Hawkeye or an Iron Man in the first place, and so the archer comes out victorious, merrily running off with his segment of the Evil Eye as Iron Man's busy trying to rescue someone from being crushed by a falling building. Even though the outcome defies reason, the fight's a nice throwback to the days when Iron Man and Hawkeye were arch-foes.

If that fight's fun, the second scrap of the mag's the real highlight as the Black Panther and Mantis come up against Dr Strange. This is like a pair of house flies coming up against King Kong, as Dr Strange clearly has the power to deck the pair of them any time he wants but the segment takes place in a cornfield and you can rarely go wrong with a story set in a cornfield.

Most unlikely revelation is that Dr Strange is not only Master of the Mystic Arts but also a master of the martial arts and therefore can hold his own in a punch-up with Mantis. Was this mastery of the martial arts ever mentioned before or after? I hope not. Maybe it's just me but Dr Strange shouldn't be karate kicking people. It's just not dignified.

Thankfully, thanks to one of Strange's spells, the physical confrontation between the two ends before it's started, meaning we're spared a fight that could have done nothing but make a man in a cloak look silly.

So that's it. Three fights in and the Defenders have won every bout.

This is how it should be.

However you look at it, you can't get round the fact the Defenders are simply a more likeable bunch of people than the Avengers, and seeing their more establishment peers flopping hopelessly is a large part of what makes you want to keep reading.

But the Defenders still only have three parts of the Evil Eye. Can they possibly keep up this run of results?

Only The Avengers #117 can tell us.


Anonymous said...

Well, not a mastery, but in The Oath, he does comment that though he is Wong's Master, in some aspects Wong is his, right before laying some kung fu down.

He's no Iron Fist, but he's not an easy target for a mugging.

Steve said...

Hi, vaguarity. Maybe it's just me but I don't like the thought of Dr Strange doing Kung Fu. Somehow it seems out of character.

Anonymous said...

I bought this issue back in the '70s!
It has a great cover, with the heads of the heroes in circles by the title as done on covers back then.
I like the way Iron Man is drawn. His suit is not too bulky.
I wish Hawkeye in the Avengers film had the costume used in this issue. I guess a purple and blue outfit and a mask with those two eye things sticking out would not translate well to a live action film. SW perfectly describes how the mismatches turn out to be so fun. Black Panther doesn't even have super powers, and he is going up against the master of the mystic arts? And his partner is Mantis? My memory is fuzzy regarding Doc Strange's martial arts display in this issue. I will have to reread the compilation trade of the Avengers/Defenders war. (Alas, I did not hang onto any of my bronze issues.) I agree with SW that DS doing martial arts doesn't fit. Just like it would not fit for him to have giant muscled arms they seem to draw on characters even if they don't engage in fistacuffs. SW, you are the man when it comes to all things comics, but you are especially great with the bronze age!

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Mike.

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