June 1979: Defenders 75 – In which we learn that you don’t leave a Valkyrie too look after your house.


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Synopsis: Defenders 75 was written by Ed Hannigan and pencilled by Herb Trimpe, with inked by Mike Esposito and opens with Foolkiller having taken everyone in Kyle (Nighthawk) Richmond’s house, including Valkyrie, Patsy (Hellcat) Walker, Clea (sometimes girlfriend of Dr Strange), friends of Valkyrie’s Ledge, Amber and Rich along with sensationalist TV reporter ‘Dollar’ Bill.

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Foolkiller is Greg Salinger is on a deranged mission to rid the world of those whom he considers fools. There are a lot of them. He is targeting the Defenders as their poor showing on TV has cheapened the image of all crimefighters as well as adding to the banality and mediocrity of modern media. Ledge steps out and phones Kyle Richmond, who is with his lawyer discussing his legal difficulties about going out in costume. He flies back to help, but not in time.

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Foolkiller fires wildly and is attacked by Hellcat and Valkyrie which leads to more and more property damage, roof collapse, fire raging and that’s when Nighthawk flies in.

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Nighthawk pulls a ‘I was gone for a couple of hours, why is my house on fire?’ thing and in front of the news cameras rips into the Defenders and disbands them. Hulk happens by after a great scene  where he is angry at a whale for being beached, but then apologises before throwing it into the sea. When he arrives at Nighthawks, he finds out that his only friends are disbanded and leaves for good.

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Elsewhere in a Las Vegas morgue, the dead body of Omega, the Unknown is discovered as a prelude to the end of his saga.

Notes:  This was a  fairly decent issue by a writer,  that I have had little contact with and Herb Trimpe was on top form in this era, drawing a fantastic Hulk and Nighthawk. The whole disbanding of a team during a crisis is a bit of a tired trope, but this one works, with the whole “What did you do to my house?!”.

The only other thing of note here is Foolkiller himself, who armed only with a laser gun demolishes the Defenders and their house. He is someone who styles themselves as a hero and yet murders based on some arbitrary rules of his own. His opposition to ‘fools’ and the dumbing down of society hits home as much now as much as it did in 1979. There’s a podcast by Paul O’Brien & Al Kennedy called House to Astonish, which looks at comics news and reviews and is hilarious and engaging. Their final segment is called the Official Handbook, to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, in which they hightlight an over looked or laughable character who could be re-purposed for a modern writer and to my mind, this is a non-funny version of that. In a world of political grandstanding reality ‘stars’, mediocre TV and a general dumbing down of the world at large seeming possible, the Foolkiller idea is worth looking at again.

The House to Astonish podcast can be found here


Next Time: Arsenal returns to deal with some ‘Daddy’ issues.

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