THE DEFENDERS 27
"Three Worlds to Conquer!"
Published: September 1975, 25 cents
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sal Buscema and V. Colletta
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Al Wenzel
Editor: Len Wein
The Defenders: Hulk, Valkyrie, Doctor Strange, Nighthawk
Guest Appearances: Guardians of the Galaxy (Charlie-27, Martinex, Yondu, Major Vance Astro), Starhawk
Nemesis/Villain Appearances: Empire of the Badoon. Sisterhood of the Badoon, Emperor Goozot
The planet Earth, circa 3015 AD. Most of humankind are dead, and those who still live, live as slaves of Earth's conquerors, the baneful Brotherhood of Badoon. Yet, small its numbers may be, humanity's longing for freedom has not perished. And, at the vanguard of Man's struggle, stands the interplanetary guerilla band known as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Hovering above the Earth in a massive spacecraft, the leader of the Badoon watches as the Guardian's ship and its nine life-forms, gains orbit over the planet below. Lordsire Droom is angered when he hears a report from his lower officer, Koz, that intercept craft have already been dispatched. Droom quickly orders the troops recalled explaining that he needs the Guardian ship intact. Droom commands his inferior to carry out his order. He then turns to watch the spacecraft's orbit on the bridge view screen, and then quietly mutters to himself that he has a far worse fate planned for the Guardians, and the ships other occupants, than death by molecular dispersion fire!
On board the Guardian ship which is named "Captain America", Martinex adjusts the controls of the teleporter in preparation for the transportation of the heroes to Earth. Valkyrie, Vance Astro, the Hulk and Yondu are prepared for travel and stand inside glass vertical transport tubes. But, the Hulk remains skeptical or perhaps claustrophobic despite the reassurance of the Guardians and his fellow Defenders. Nighthawk, Dr. Strange and Charlie-27 soothe the jade giant and the Hulk eventually submits, as the green behemoth understands (if minimally) the enormity of the task before them. Crystalline fingers adroitly manipulate the dials of the control console as Martinex activates the teleport "send" circuit. Instantly, four sets of atoms are broadcast to Earth. However, several seconds earlier on board Droom's ship, the vile leader's webbed hand comes down hard on a bright red button and another high intensity directional radio wave lances up into space to bisect and deflect the four beams which emanate from the "Captain America". This hurtles the scrambled molecules of the Guardians/Defenders teams on a journey away from Earth and into the trackless void of sub-space. On board the Guardians' ship, Martinex scrambles to the controls exclaiming to Dr. Strange that he has lost them. Suddenly, from a hidden corner of the ship, a voice yells out that Martinex has murdered them! Dr. Strange and the crystal Guardian turn to see a man rushing towards them. A man in anguish, who wants to know what has happened to his wife. A man named Jack Norriss.
The answer to that question would likely not please Jack Norriss. For the warrior woman and the 1000 year-old master of psycho kinesis (better known as Vance Astro) have re-integrated, knee deep in some fetid marshland. The waters are blood red and murky, the vegetation is a tangle of deep purple and gold. The entire gestalt is alien and fraught with peril. Val and Vance quickly realize they are not in New York and more importantly, not on Earth as evidenced by the sky's two moons. The pair of heroes begin to prepare to explore their new surrounding when suddenly webbed, hirsute hands stab out at them from the lacework of leaves and vines and the duo is suddenly under attack. Up from the muck, down from the branches of the trees, they came in droves. Slimy-haired lizards things, savage, mindless and uncontrollably violent. And, though their claws cannot penetrate Astro's protective metal sheath, their sheer weight is sufficient to force his glittering form down into the mire...to drown! Meanwhile, Val's magic spawned strength is greater. She stands firm against the cruel assault. She even strikes back, but as she does so, a wave of nausea sweeps over her. Her thrusts grow weaker, more awkward. Her will to survive seems pitted against some other, equally powerful instinct. Until her bare flesh is torn open by the swift stinging swipe of reptilian claws. Then, she stabs without thought, without further question, hitting one of the beasts in the mid-section, and she reaps an unexpected side effect: It is as if, she had inflicted the fatal wound upon herself. She experiences such pain as she has never known, her every nerve blazing a fiery trail to her brain. She doubles over, cries out, and then falls face-forward into the crimson clouded waters. Suddenly, the beasts surge toward her convulsing form. While mere yards away, as five of the filthy creatures pin down Astro, he realizes he has to help Val and so he summons all his concentration and blast the berserkers away, with a psychokinetic bolt. Free of the beasts enormous weight, Astro struggles to his feet and ravenously gulps in the humid air. He then cast his eyes left and right for some sight of the Valkyrie. He sees a group of the savage creatures in a fury of activity and realizes that they are pounding Val into the ground. Once more he reaches deep into his consciousness, gathering together sparks of psychic force...fusing...focusing...hurling them outward through the psyche-pusher disc concealed beneath his metallic hood. Screaming "Get off her...NOW!", the beasts are violently flung off Val. Vance rushes to her side and helps Val to her feet. Her shoulder is wounded but she is able to stand. Val comments that the beasts resemble the Badoon physically but they seem more primitive, or perhaps an offshoot. Suddenly, a voice advises them that they can speculate on that later but now Val is in need of aid. The pair of Defenders turn to see a yellow glowing humanoid figure on the swamp's edge, and the figure is beckoning them.
While back in Earth orbit, the Guardians and the Defenders have built and re-built the transporter several times and still cannot detect any source of the malfunction. Martinex then determines that it was some outside force that caused the disruption and that the heroes could now be anywhere on Earth, some other world, or even dead, adrift in space! Upon hearing this, Jack Norriss flies into a rage. Wielding a wrench, he launches an attack at Martinex (calling hi a murdering rock-headed freak!). Quickly, Dr. Strange steps in and, with a minor spell, renders Jack motionless, promising to release him when he can better control himself. Strange then apologizes to Martinex for Jack's behaviour and then the four heroes return their attention to locating their lost friends. Dr. Strange then requests Martinex to take him to the sensor banks.
Even as they stride the Starship's metal corridors, Yondu, last of the Centauri-IV primitives, and the Hulk, first of the gamma-ray-born primitives, materialize amid a bizarre bacchanalian revel...on a world neither has ever seen. Ever the noble savage, Yondu's very sense of decency is offended by the sites and sounds of the reckless abandon that swirls all about him. Real or imagined, his wilderness bred instincts detect a sinister quality about it. He must know more. Turning to a nearby drunken sot, he queries the man as to directions but quickly learns that the people here do not speak English. The Hulk notes that despite the singing and laughter in the people, he senses sadness and death! Suddenly, a woman's scream is heard in the distance and the Hulk and Yondu set off to find it source. Rushing down alleys and stone passageways, the pair barely notice that nobody cares to join them in their pursuit of the screaming woman. Suddenly, they round a corner and are shocked to see a woman surrounded by four swordsmen who seem intent on hacking her to death! Yondu yells at the group to get away from the woman but the men are apparently as deaf as the revelers, so Yondu resorts to other means to disperse them. Pulling back on his bow he lets fly the Yaka arrow and then issues a shrill whistle to which the weird shaft of the "living" metal responds by looping and diving around and among the woman's attackers, sending them racing in panic from the alcove to the street and away. The pair moves to comfort the woman whom, they assume, is overcome with fright. However, she quickly turns on the heroes, yells at the same strange tongue they had heard earlier and then slaps Yondu across the face! Holding his face in shock and bewilderment, Yondu tries to understand the strange customs of this culture, the Hulk too! Suddenly, from around the corner, half-a-dozen gun wielding robots appear. The look vaguely like silver metal skeletons with oversized heads...and, they speak English! Apparently, the robots are some form of law enforcement and the two heroes are charged with disruption of the Festival of Death. The Hulk is pleased at this development and before Yondu can restrain him, the green behemoth smashes all six robots in very short order! The Guardian stands in awe of Hulk's power but they are interrupted by the arrival of a massive robot, four times the size of the Hulk, which moves on a huge metal roller. The mother-robot announces that because of the Hulk's actions, the pair are found guilty. Beams of light come out of the robot's eyes and the heroes are paralyzed and captured!
Back on board the Captain America, Martinex has effectively wired Dr. Strange to the ship's computer systems. The Pluvian asks Strange if he is ready, then engages the sensor banks of the computer which are set for wide scan. For a moment there is silence, then the hum and whirr of the data system begins, followed by the snap of electron fire as the Sorcerer Supreme joins his own mystic energies to the computer's capabilities. The result is a fusion of mysticism and technology: A sorcerer who can process and evaluate data input with machine precision and split second rapidity and a computer that is one with the universe. Together, they reach out, probing, seeking, touching , transversing the interstellar void...intuition guiding logic...examining whole star-systems at the nerve-impulse clip...and with such enormous power that it defies Earthly (and Badoonly!) measure! On board the Badoonian ship, their sensor instruments are fried by Dr. Strange's probing. The Badoon leader cries out to his troops that they must find this new power source and destroy it at any cost!
Meanwhile, on Swampworld, parsecs distant from the activities developing around Earth, Astro carries Val in the direction indicated by the glowing figure. Vance asks the figure if he has medical supplies because Val is in dire need of blood. The shining bright being asks the Guardian to stand aside. Vance does so, reluctantly. The strange being holds his glowing arms over Valkyrie and announces that he is her healer, he is the light which mends all wounds...of the spirit and of the flesh...he is the giver of the light and into the stricken, from him, does the light flow that she may rise into the world, whole once more. Suddenly, Val begins to glow as he talks and then effortlessly, she sits up. The stranger meantime has become less bright, more substantial. Standing next to Val is a man costumed in powder blue tights with a yellow starburst around the waist and heavy yellow gloves. Astro hastens to Valkyrie's side and asks her how she is feeling. Val admits she is feeling very well and that her wounds have vanished. Vance then turns to their saviour and begins to ask the obvious questions. However, the stranger deflects the questions as if they have no importance and reminds the pair that they are in his debt!
While, at the opposite end of the galaxy, the giant robot has escorted Yondu and the Hulk to the throne room of the this world's leader. His name is Emperor Goozot. He is an obese ruler, dressed only in a gown of purple cloth. He surrounds himself with scantily clad women and ample food and drink for he is a king who is hedonistic. Goozot addresses his rolling guard machine (whom he calls Zinnia) in his own language and asks what the crime is of this pair. The robot reports their interferences and when a woman hanging on Goozot's arm tells him to have them dismembered, he declines. Goozot gathers that the pair are gifts from their allies, the Badoon's, and he decides to enter the two in the Games. He instructs Zinnia to get the Hulk better clothed and the huge machine leads them away.
Meanwhile, back on the "Captain America", Martinex and Charlie watch the instruments to see how far Dr. Strange has scanned. They are astonished to see he has already exceeded their normal range by a factor of 10. Charlie is worried about the strain on Dr. Strange but his thoughts are interrupted by the beep of a warning signal indicating an intruder alert in the teleport room! Despite his misgivings of leaving Strange alone, Nighthawk joins Martinex and Charlie who suggest they may have been invaded! In the teleport chamber, a decidedly unpleasant surprise awaits them...the Badoon Elite Guard!
(NOTE: check out the cover, seems they have substituted the Hulk for Vance Astro...go figure. They also spelled Badoon as BADDOON on the cover, tsk tsk Marvel proofers!)
NEXT: The secret of the Swampworld and its blue-and-gold clad medic...the Hulk and Yondu play "The Games"...and a battle royal you'll never forget, all in the next issue Defenders #28 "My Mother, the Badoon!"
Front Cover: The Defenders Issue 27