The Black Panther’s war pitting his kingdom of Wakanda against the Sub-Mariner’s kingdom of Atlantis proceeds. Will a certain Latverian dictator also get into the act?
DEFENDERS Vol 1: Number 85 (July 1980) – Like A Proud Black Panther)
We pick up the story two days after the nuclear missile caused the tidal wave that destroyed much of Kiber Island. The splash page would show Foolkiller and Hellcat (with her Shadow-Cloak wrapped around her) on a rooftop across from the Wakandan Consulate in New York City.
Their back and forth dialogue would update the reader on developments between issues: both Wakanda and Atlantis would be denying responsibility for the nuke but various nations would be accusing one side or the other. (SPOILER: The Mandrill’s female agents planted the contradictory accusations with various high-powered figures.)
Another battle broke out between the Atlantean and Wakandan armies in the meantime, frustrating both Namor and T’Challa, who are trying to de-escalate the conflict. (Rogue military leaders in the two kingdoms are being supplied with the other kingdom’s top secret weaponry by the Mandrill, who is getting rich off the war AND plans to steal some vibranium from the sub-sea foot of Kiber Island, where Atlantean expeditions discovered it. )
The Black Panther has arrived by limo at the Wakandan Consulate in New York, where he will meet with various world leaders before addressing the U.N. the next day. T’Challa is surrounded by press and his own security as well as protestors who blame Wakanda for the nuclear poisoning of the sea near Kiber Island.
Finally seeing an opening, Foolkiller provides a distraction with some surgically-placed, non-fatal blasts from his Purification Gun while Hellcat swings across the street. Before either T’Challa or his security personnel can act she blankets herself and the Black Panther in her Shadow Cloak and teleports away with him.
Back on the rooftop Foolkiller dodges return fire from street-level while restraining himself from shooting back. He races to the opposite side of the rooftop and uses his expanding hat-sash as a quick glider-chute to the sidewalk below. W’Kabi (T’Challa’s Head of Security) cuts him off and aims his bionic arm’s raygun at him. Salinger blasts off the barrel of the gun with a Purification Burst and makes his escape.
While that was going on Hellcat and the Black Panther materialized in Dr Stramge’s Sanctum Sanctorum. There’s a brief tussle between the Panther and Patsy because T’Challa thinks he’s been kidnapped. (Because in the chaos at Kiber Island he got the impression the Defenders were allied with Namor against Wakanda.)
Sub-Mariner is there, too and he and Dr Strange explain they needed to talk to T’Challa alone, which was getting impossible with relations between Wakanda and Atlantis worsening by the hour. The assembled Defenders (Doc, Subby, Hulk, Valkyrie, Clea and Hellcat – Foolkiller is still making his way there.) explain to the Black Panther their belief that outside forces provoked and are manipulating the war between Wakanda and Atlantis.
Cut to the Mandrill’s South American HQ, which is on the mainland near Kiber Island. Mandrill’s Supervillain Monologue to his enthralled female attendants clarifies his plan for the reader. He closes by mentioning that snagging the Defenders in his web of deceit was sheer luck but he will relish getting revenge on them.
Cut to the office of Attorney Milton Rosenblum, where he and his client Kyle Richmond (Nighthawk ) are going over his legal troubles and plotting strategy to overcome the Court Order forbidding him from becoming Nighthawk again. The two are distracted by the tv news covering Foolkiller and Hellcat’s antics at the Wakandan Consulate.
Kyle is frustrated and realizes that with the Kiber Island incident and now this his fellow Defenders are caught in the middle of whatever is going on between Atlantis and Wakanda but he is forced to sit on the bench this time around.
Back at Doc’s Sanctum Sanctorum, the conversation among our heroes is interrupted by Foolkiller at last arriving. T’Challa angrily confronts him about how trigger-happy he was on Kiber Island but the tidal wave means he can never know for sure how many Wakandans Greg killed during the battle.
When the Panther makes another snide comment about Foolkiller’s Purification Gun Salinger challenges him to try to take it off of him if he thinks he can. Namor interrupts and returns the conversation to the escalating conflict between the two kingdoms.
Hellcat then brings their attention to the latest tv news reports. As they love to do, the media is making the tense situation worse. Their talking heads speculate that the Consulate incident means the Defenders have kidnapped the Black Panther and predict that the Avengers will get in on the war to help their teammate the way the Dynamic Ones are helping Sub-Mariner.
That leads into a report at the Latverian Embassy in Washington, where we’re told the country’s dictator Victor Von Doom is citing the unstable situation and the fact that Namor and T’Challa no longer seem in control of their own troops.
Von Doom states that if the Avengers get involved he will – “on behalf of the international community” – intervene to make sure this whole affair doesn’t end up with the two superteams claiming the vibranium for America, the country that -conveniently, Doom says – has most of the world’s super-powered beings. He wants possession of Kiber Island’s vibranium to be arbitrated by the U.N.
Wanting to keep Latveria and its demented ruler out of the situation T’Challa and Namor rapidly decide to compromise. Cut to a joint press conference at which Namor and T’Challa have announced that their two lands are attempting a diplomatic solution to the problem. They further state that both monarchs have agreed to let the Defenders stay on Kiber Island as a “peace-keeping force” and that the Black Panther has joined the Defenders, so Wakanda will not lose face having Sub-Mariner’s super-powered allies there.
Since all this means the Avengers will take no action Latveria will have no justification for entering the fray. That settled the assembled heroes (Dr Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie, Clea, Hellcat, Foolkiller and the Black Panther) move on to trying to find out what forces have been manipulating the conflict between Wakanda and Atlantis.
Dr Strange mystically teleports himself, Hellcat and the Black Panther to Wakanda to try to smoke out any conspirators there. He teleported Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Valkyrie, Clea and Foolkiller back to Kiber Island to see if they could get a line on any Atlantean conspirators. (Subby suspects Attuma or Krang)
Overnight ANOTHER battle breaks out between the Atlantean and Wakandan forces, this time in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Again rogue military leaders of both kingdoms seem to have acted “defensively” but without orders.
By morning on Kiber Island the portion of the island held now by Wakandan forces is abuzz over the belief that Atlantis attacked Wakandans on the high seas for no reason and when our heroes arrive to stop any violence from breaking out they realize they’ve been tricked.
They’ve been lured onto Wakandan-held territory and they will be slain and blamed for secretly working for Atlantis despite their claims of neutrality. The people coming forth to kill them: Killmonger’s old supervillain minions – Madame Slay, Malice, Baron Macabre, Lord Karnaj, Sombre, Mute and Salamander K’ruel. (Sombre and Madame Slay seemed to “die” in vague circumstances, so I’m going with the usual comic book circumstance of seemingly dead characters having survived.)
Those 7 villains attack our 5 heroes so it’s a long, drawn-out fight. Madame Slay is the overall leader and wields her wrist-spikes to deadly effect while also using her two leopards for defense and offense … Malice – another woman – uses her super-strength, speed and spear … Baron Macabre uses his laser-firing wrist-bands and this time has an army of REAL corpses, animated by stimulating the brains of the recently dead …
Lord Karnaj uses his two sonic pistols … Sombre uses his strength, talons, fangs and his ability to turn intangible … Mute uses his incredible strength … and Salamander K’ruel uses his explosive napalm arrows, plus other arrows using Wakandan technology. He also uses his ability to shoot the long needles that grow out of his flesh.
Foolkiller would be his usual battle-crazed self, and amid all the action he would blast Mute to death (again, a D-level, unmemorable and very obscure villain but it adds to Foolkiller’s body count). The bulk of his time would be spent pitting his gun’s energy blasts against Lord Karnaj’s. After Salinger manages to shoot one of the sonic pistols out of Karnaj’s hand the blasts from the remaining sonic pistol and Foolkiller’s Purification Gun would deadlock each other for awhile until the ongoing battle would separate the two combatants.
(At some point in the battle Salamander K’Ruel’s body needles would fly at Foolkiller and rip his costume as he dodges them. The costume would repair itself again like after his battle with Dibbuk. Clea would notice and be puzzled by the costume’s strange properties.)
In Wakanda Dr Strange, Hellcat and the Black Panther are dressed in winter gear and have trailed the potential conspirators through the Land of the Chilling Mist to Resurrection Altar. They defeat huge numbers of Devil-Wolves and White Gorillas, but once inside the Altar itself they spring a trap that unleashes horrific sounds which attack the nervous system.
Flailing around and in agony our heroes nearly get killed by that trap until the Black Panther saves himself and them. The trio recover then emerge from a cave on the other side of the Altar only to be left wide-mouthed in shock at what they see. (We learn what it is next time.)
Back on Kiber Island the battle is winding down. By now another Defender has taken down Lord Karnaj so Foolkiller helps whichever teammate would be facing Sombre by then. Though Sombre’s intangibility frustrates even Hulk and Subby’s attempts to finish him off, Foolkiller’s Purification Burst succeeds in dissipating him into nothingness. When Clea asks him why his weapon was able to destroy Sombre Salinger just replies “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
Valkyrie, just finishing off her own immediate opponent, hears that and informs Foolkiller that Yellowjacket told her and Hellcat about how Greg said the same thing to the Mandrill when he asked Foolkiller why he couldn’t get Greg’s Purification Gun to work.
Mentioning Mandrill puts an idea in Val’s head. Double-checking the fallen female villains Madame Slay and Malice, something about their eyes or whatever make her realize the two of them were under the influence of the mutant Mandrill.
A nearby viewscreen (you know comic books) switches on and the Mandrill’s face appears on it. He taunts Val that she’s too late in figuring things out. He explains his plan (see the previous installment) and mentions the Defenders will be too busy to stop him.
The heroes realize what he means when they see that Mandrill’s allies in the Atlantean officer corps are leading an army of undersea monsters onto Kiber Island while his allies in the Wakandan officer corps are leading an army of dinosaurs captured in Wakanda’s Serpent Valley onto Kiber Island. The two monstrous armies are about to clash with the Defenders caught in the middle. +++
I WILL ADD THE NEXT INSTALLMENT IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS TIME ALLOWS.
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