FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE
THE DEFENDERS Volume 1, Number 9 (October 1973) Divide and Conquer
This worldwide clash between the Avengers and the Defenders was a crossover story covered in multiple issues of each of their separate comic books. Mantis gets to shine once again as the mystery surrounding her deepens.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
The Silver Surfer, fresh from his battle with the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in French Polynesia, arrives back at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. He carries with him the fragment of the Evil Eye of Avalon that he outfought the two Avengers for.
The Surfer tells the good Doctor about how the Avengers seem to be opposing the Defenders’ plan to reassemble the Evil Eye in order to free the superhero called the Black Knight from the spell that keeps him trapped in stone form.
Neither the Avengers nor the Defenders are aware that they are being manipulated by Dormammu – an enemy of Dr Strange and the Defenders – and by Loki, an enemy of Thor and the Avengers. The Avengers think they are preventing the Defenders from enacting revenge against the world over their various grievances, a revenge that the reassembled Evil Eye of Avalon will make unstoppable.
For their part, the Defenders think that collecting the six scattered fragments of the Evil Eye will restore the Black Knight to normal. Dormammu tricked them into thinking that, but actually that Lord of the Dark Dimension wants the Eye so that he can destroy both superteams AND our universe.
To try to keep things reasonably plausible, Dr Strange is astonished by the Silver Surfer’s tale about having to fight for his fragment of the Evil Eye. Trying to ascertain why the Avengers might be interfering with the Defenders’ attempt to save the Black Knight (an Avenger himself), Strange uses the Orb of Agamotto to observe Avengers Mansion.
The Orb shows Dr Strange and the Silver Surfer that the evil residue of Loki permeates Avengers Mansion. In reality that’s because Loki mentally contacted the Avengers to trick them into going after the pieces of the Evil Eye. The Norse figure feared that Dormammu was just stringing him along with no real intention of sharing the power of the Evil Eye with him, let alone curing Loki’s blindness. (Loki was left blinded after his most recent battle with Thor.)
Strange concludes that Loki – whom the Sorceror Supreme had battled years earlier – may be exercising some sort of mental control over the Avengers. (A reasonable theory, given how many times that sort of thing DOES happen in superhero stories.) The Doctor leaves the Silver Surfer there to guard the petrified form of the Black Knight while he (Strange) flies off to get his fragment of the Evil Eye.
Meanwhile the scene switches to French Polynesia to rehash the Vision and the Scarlet Witch using their downed Quin-Jet’s radio to let the other Avengers know that the Defenders are apparently willing to kill in their quest to reassemble the Evil Eye of Avalon.
BATTLE TWO: IRON MAN VERSUS HAWKEYE – Cut to Monterrey, Mexico, where the Valkyrie and Hawkeye, astride the Black Knight’s flying horse Aragorn have just landed. A magick image of Dr Strange warns them that the Avengers may be operating under Loki’s control. Valkyrie leaves Hawkeye there in Monterrey to look for his fragment of the Eye while she and Aragorn fly off to Bolivia in search of her fragment.
While conducting his own search through the city, Hawkeye sees the airborne Iron Man arrive and shadows him, unknown to Iron Man. The armored Avenger goes to the Instituto Tecnologico and uses his Avengers’ influence to consult with the faculty. Conveniently, a professor at the Institute is studying the Monterrey fragment of the Eye.
It was discovered months earlier and turned over to the Institute for research. Hawkeye arrives and steals the Eye segment and Iron Man pursues him. As the battle unfolds it turns out that after quitting the Avengers in a huff Hawkeye – in his pouting – worked up special arrows to deal with Iron Man and does serious damage to Iron Man’s armor.
The pair wage a running fight throughout Monterrey exchanging nostalgic banter about the days when Hawkeye was mistakenly believed to be a supervillain and fought Iron Man a few times, both solo and alongside the Black Widow. The bantering turns to bitter exchanges as Hawkeye’s rabid hostility toward his former teammate makes Iron Man think Loki is right about the Defenders’ intentions.
Despite Hawkeye’s childish taunting about how he prefers being a Defender to being an Avenger, Iron Man goes easy on Hawkeye, hoping to simply capture him. Hawkeye takes advantage of that and manages to escape with his fragment of the Evil Eye.
BATTLE THREE: MANTIS AND THE BLACK PANTHER VERSUS DOCTOR STRANGE – In Indiana, Mantis and the Black Panther have been using their Avengers’ clout to enlist the help of local law enforcement and others in the search for their fragment of the Eye. Meanwhile, the late-arriving Dr Strange flies in out of sight and lets his mystic senses lead him directly to the occult relic.
Mantis’ empathic abilities enable her to detect Strange’s presence, since she previously had empathically “sensed” his aura at Garrett Castle in England. Mantis and the Black Panther attack the Defender. Strange attempts invisibility, and attempts a sneak attack in his astral form and attempts mystically disguising himself as an old woman boarding a bus, but nothing he does can conceal him from the enigmatic Mantis.
The Black Panther is increasingly impressed with Mantis’ paranormal senses and her other-worldly martial arts and resolves to learn some of her fighting techniques if or when he has the chance. (There are NO romantic elements to T’Challa’s interest in Mantis. He strictly wants to learn from her.)
With no choice, Dr Strange must fight the pair of Avengers and – fairly easily given his incredible powers – he defeats them and flies off with his Eye segment. The Panther refers to it as the Doctor “stepping on them like ants.”
T’Challa further states his (mistaken) belief that if the other Avengers don’t fare better against the Defenders, the world is doomed. +++
I’LL COVER THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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