New Reviews of Old Comics
1993 is a little on the “new” side for what I like to review, but I guess it’s close to being 20 years old now. *sigh* Why in heaven’s name did I write that? I just made myself feel old for a second there. The cover has a snazzy red foil that catches the eye, enhances every scratch on its cardstock base and attracts black smudges like nobody’s business. Anyone long for the days of gimmick covers; glow-in-the-dark Ghost Rider heads, holograms of Robin, Wolverine clawed die-cut slashes to the splash page and various fold-outs? Me neither. Though from a business perspective, Marvel had a good thing going there for awhile getting people to buy 32 different color variations of the same cover wrapping around the same story, or stuffing them inside a plastic bag so you’d have to buy two; one to read and one to keep in super collectible condition. Yeah, I got suckered into a few of those ploys, so what? Like you didn’t buy the different cover variations of Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1. Sure.
Of course I recognized Wolverine, Dr. Strange and Spider-Woman on the cover, but the other two were a mystery. I was encouraged that Roy Thomas wrote “A Gathering of Heroes” and the art by Andre Coates and Don Hudson looked pretty good during a quick flip through. The gist of the story is Dr. Strange is looking to gather a loose knit group of super-heroes; he has also been severely drained of his powers due to something that happened in another issue of another title. In Phoenix, AZ a group of two bit looking thugs has knocked over a bank, but they run into a gun-toting guy wearing a trenchcoat with a baby strapped to his back. Oh, look! Even the baby has a mask! Nice touch. The thugs open fire, but they aim poorly and miss, as two bit thugs are wont to do, so a woman winds up clocking our hero a good one. They try to escape in a car, but run into a giant spider web place by Spider-Woman. The thugs open fire, but their bullets are deflected by Darkhawk. Wolverine shows up too, allowing the cops to subdue the bad guys and recover the pilfered greenbacks. Dr. Strange makes his astral presence known explaining his reason for summoning them all to Phoenix; he wanted to reform his ad hoc, loose knit group of heroes again, because the Defenders once served a good purpose. The guy with the baby is Nomad, who I remember from Captain America in the 80s. He didn’t have a baby or long hair then. Of course those two-bit thugs weren’t exactly who they appeared to be so the Secret Defenders spend the rest of the issue investigating. The issue ends with a new character calling herself Dreadlox making an appearance. I’ll reserve judgment on her until I find Secret Defenders #2, which might never happen.
On the whole I’d have to say I enjoyed Secret Defenders #1 and would definitely pick up the next issue if I find it. The page normally reserved for letters gives some insight into what brought this about and apparently the plan was to keep revolving the heroes in and out with Dr. Strange being the only constant. For me, this makes the title even more appealing. There are a lot of cool marginal heroes we only get to see every now and then and this would make a good vehicle for them. Any idea how long Secret Defenders lasted? My guess would be not very.
Notable Ad: Video games and baseball cards make up the majority of the sparse ads within this issue. “T2: The Arcade Game” for Sega Genesis is even in here twice! Wow. They’re really pushing that one. During the 90s I was also heavy into card collecting; baseball, football, hockey, thinking I was building up a nice collection of cards. Boy was I wrong. I think the vast majority of cards from this era are virtually worthless. I read a book called Card Sharks a few years ago and immediately stopped collecting cards feeling more than a little bamboozled at how the card makers said they kept production low, but in reality let the presses run to use as their own personal commodity in some cases. No different, I suppose than what comics did with all of their over production of cover variations, plastic bags and trading cards. If people are demanding your product you better supply it and make the money while you can. I don’t feel as bitter about the comics because I can still read the comics, but what am I doing with a bunch of cards? I already organized them, so that fun is over and done. Sorry for the digression, but there were no good ads in this issue.