Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If I Was In Charge Of...The Defenders! (Part Two)

Okay, everybody, time to board the HMS Buh-whaaaa? and head off to the distant shores of Weirdland.

Those of you, like me, who are big fans of the Defenders know that the team has had its share of wacky characters.  This is just a partial list of some of the more "out there" members.

Howard the Duck

Dracula (yes, that Dracula)

Charlie-27 and the rest of the future Guardians of the Galaxy

Cloud, a sentient nebula able to take human form who eventually fell in love with another member, Moondragon, and assumed a male form to be with her despite Moondragon later coming out as a lesbian cause comics are weird

So, how do we top that?

Pay attention, kids, and if anybody you know starts complaining that this isn't their Defenders, do what I do, and tell them to get their own blog.

This is gonna be great.
And significantly less whiny.

First up, let's go over the rules again.

1)  No more than twelve members.  You get more than twelve people together on a team, and you're no longer doing a proper team (even a non-team), you're doing a giant crossover that'll probably end poorly.

2)  No real "team" people.  The Defenders work best when they're individuals forced together by fate instead of people who pal around like your X-Men, Avengers, or Fantastic Four.  That's not to say we won't see a few people from said teams pop up, but never really more than one or two.

3) No using this as a cheap way to bring back obscure characters I love.  I can't just say "because they're awesome," I actually have to provide some justification for my decision.

...I fully expect Rule 3 to be broken at least once.

5)  Psylocke

Yeah, that seems practical.

Why would you attach garters to a swimsuit, anyway?

Anyway, getting back on track.  Let's go.

*deep breath*

Elizabeth Braddock started out as a sideline character to her brother, Captain Britain, and a professional model who later joins a government agency, dyes her hair purple from blond, was rendered blind by a super villain, had bionic eyes implanted by Mojo, brainwashed, turned Asian, got healed by some strange mystical juice, died, came back thanks to her reality-warping psychopath brother, joined a dimension-hopping team, started making out with the alternate-world version of a guy who almost killed her, became telekinetic instead of a telepath, and god I'm running out of breath.

Needless to say, she's never really "fit in" with the X-Men, simply because she's extremely complicated to write for unless you get rid of years of writers going "gee, how do I make her interesting again?"  Need a telekinetic?  Well, you typically have Jean Grey around.  Telepath?  Emma Frost, the Cuckoos, Jean Grey.  Someone to fight ninjas?  Wolverine.  Butt floss?  ...well, okay, she still leads the way there.

She's somehow Asian and English, and every now and again a writer will remember to have her get drunk and slur her speech in a British accent.  But with all that stuff behind her, she's needlessly complex, difficult to connect with, and pretty much suited to doing anything BUT be on an X-Men team if she doesn't want to feel redundant.

So in other words, she's a perfect Defender.

6)  Toro

To be fair, that could be a picture of the original Human Torch.  Kinda hard to tell the difference.

Another mutant, Toro was the first Human Torch's sidekick back in World War 2.  He died fighting the Mad Thinker back in 1969, but was later resurrected by a Cosmic Cube in order to get to live on.  A character who still vividly remembers fighting Nazis who isn't Captain America, feels lost in the modern world and doesn't really have a home seems like someone who would fit extremely well with this band of misfits, able to fill in the awesome flame special effects when Ghost Rider isn't available but also being able to provide both an actual World's War worth of experience as well as be wide-eyed when something massive happens.

7)  Moon Knight

"I am vengeance!  I am the night!  I... AM... BA- oh wait.  Okay, let's try something else."

"I am the terror that flaps in the night!  Okay."

Moon Knight is another one of those characters that I really, really, really want to like but I've just never been able to get into his titles.  Mostly because any time they relaunch him, the first thing they tend to do is drag out all the stuff from his attic and have familiar faces fight him.  Sometimes they do new things (I think they introduced his brother not too long ago), but for the most part it's "crazy guy with abilities granted to him by a moon god makes a lot of guys bleed and need to eat through tubes."

He has a fairly distinct reputation in the Marvel Comics universe ("the guy's nuts and once lit his Avengers membership card on fire to say "I quit."") but there's a good home for him here.  A personality that would easily rub a lot of the other people on the team wrong, a connection to more "street" level stories that could spiral out into larger plots (I mean, heck, Ulik the Troll once took over crime in New York), and someone who could nod when Valkyrie starts going off about how rough it is to be under the thumb of some really needy Gods and probably reply with "Tell me about it."

In other words, I think I've found his niche.

8)  X-23

Another character I really didn't care about originally, X-23 was introduced because a similar character first appeared on one of the X-Men cartoon series, much like how Harley Quinn appeared in comics after first showing up on Batman: The Animated Series.  However, Marvel did it faster than DC (seriously, it was YEARS) because I guess they like making money while things are "cool."

A strange clone/genetically altered being who's a teenage girl version of Wolverine, X-23 (or "Laura") manages to be an outsider even while fitting in.  Around teenage heroes, she's the "one who used to kill a lot of people."  Around the X-Men, she's "a less experienced Wolverine."  Around the time-tossed X-Men, she's "the girl that Cyclops has the hots for" but that's disturbing on so many levels my brain refuses to acknowledge it.

A programmed killer who doesn't take any lip from people, she's a younger, more versatile Wolverine, and everybody knows that Wolverine helps sell books.  She could use some lessons in controlling the buried darker side of her from Valkyrie, and would be able to stand beside any of the other members of the team without it seeming strange or out of place...even if she didn't really want to "team up" with them.

9)  Fat Cobra

This character was, to me, the breakout star of Iron Fist's series.  A large, overweight martial artist who wields lightning attacks and is faster than his size should ever allow, Fat Cobra manages to be both a great story of a young man struggling from the depths he was born in (the child of pig farmers) to be one of the best martial artists in the world, while also being a completely tragic story of a man whose debauchery caught up with him.

See, Fat Cobra spent decades wenching his way through the land, and at one point was faced by several hundred of his offspring, all determined to kill him.  He was forced to kill them all in self-defense, and while it was this action that allowed him to become an Immortal Weapon, the act has haunted him since then and has caused even more drinking on his part to try to drown the memory.

Extremely strong-willed, willing to hit on Valkyrie (to the point of being punched, probably), and an extremely versatile martial artist (as well as adding a bit more ethnicity to the group) makes him a solid pick to join this "non-team."

10)  Joystick

Why is she attacking the Fantastic Four by herself?  Because it's a challenge!

I've discussed Joystick before.  The living embodiment of Barney Stinson's "challenge accepted," Joystick somehow manages to be great fun even when she's betraying everyone around her and causing more problems than she's worth.

On the other hand, if you have a mission like "hey, we need someone to sneak into Dr. doom's mansion and unlock a gate in the bottom of his castle to let us in" it can always be solved with "hey, Joystick, bet you twenty bucks you can't do it."

11)  Bloodtide

A member of the pro-Atlantean terrorist organization The Fathom Five, Bloodtide and her group staged an attack in Manhattan that was repelled by the Thunderbolts.  She controls water, able to blast a small superhero team jet out of the air, and can create "hard water" barriers.  Her only real limit is that she needs to be around water or she steadily gets weaker.

"But Erik," I hear you saying, "isn't she a villain?"

First off, lower your voice.  If I can hear you from there, you're being really loud.  Second, yes, she is a "terrorist," but nowhere near the level of some other people that have been on the team.  I mean, Namor lead an invasion of the surface world several times now, and nobody kicks him out of teams.

The team once had Dracula as a member, for Pete's sake.

Very strong headed and political, she gives us a connection to the oceans and the horrors that lurk within without being too connected to Namor, and gives other characters one more person to not completely trust and argue with between saving the world.

12)  Cadaver

No, I'm serious.  I mean, come on, the guy was already a Secret Defender once.  And Zombies are still "cool," right?

Cody Fleischer was an unfortunate shrub who had his life force drained by a super villain but returned as an undead corpse.  Able to summon and wield the Sword of Bone, he im-heh.  Hee.

Sword of Bone.

Ahem.  Okay, so, having been brought back to life by none other than Agamotto, Cody joined up with a C-list team of Defenders.  He's able to pretty much heal from any wound, and he Sword of Bone -snrk- was able to hurt the Hulk.  But yeah, he pretty much doesn't have anywhere else to go these days, and I think Marvel has forgotten about him.

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