THE DEFENDERS 28
"My Mother, the Badoon!"
Published: October 1975, 25 cents
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sal Buscema
Embellishers: Frank Giacoia and John Tartag
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Al Wenzel
Editor: Marv Wolfman
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 Badoon
The Defenders have journeyed to the alien-occupied Earth of 3015 A.D. along with the Guardians of the Galaxy, freedom fighters of that era. However, Earth's conquerors, the lizard-like Brotherhood of the Badoon, intercepted the teleport signal carrying four of the heroes to the planet's surface, thereby stranding Vance Astro and Valkyrie on a weird swampworld inhabited by vicious creatures and a strange Starman, and marooning the Hulk and Yondu on a planet of drunkards and robot slaves. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange, tied in to the computer of the Guardians' Starship, mystically searches for his missing allies unaware that the ship has been boarded by the Badoon Elite Guard!
In another part of the Guardians' ship, Martinex, Nighthawk and Charlie find that the intruders have boarded their ship so as to confiscate a new "power source" and "sensor" that they have detected aboard the spacecraft. Martinex is quick to understand that they are referring to the ship's computer and Dr. Strange. They have no intent on handing over their friend and that means, they have a fight on their hands! Twin bursts of heat and cold fly from the crystalline hands of Martinex, sole survivor of Earth's colony on Pluto, and three aliens are knocked flying. And, close behind, the rampaging form of Charlie-27, last of Earth's Jovian colonists. Like Martinex, he is the product of advanced genetic engineering but with eleven times the mass of his Terran ancestors. Even the nerveless, mindless Zoms (human slaves to the Badoon) notice the difference as they are sent sprawling by a blow from Charlie. To his surprise, Nighthawk discovers that the eternal darkness of space doubles his strength as sunset does on Earth, and yet no matter how hard he hits the Zoms, they keep coming back for more. Charlie explains that the Zoms feel no pain as he wallops two more of the mindless men. They have been lobotomized by the Badoon and then programmed to hate their fellow Earthmen. Martinex melts the weapon in the hands of a Badoon guard with a blast from his hand and informs Nighthawk that the only way to stop the Zoms is to cripple them or their masters. Nighthawk grows more angry with the way the Badoon have turned humans against humans as he takes two Zoms out by forcing them to collide together. Martinex remarks that he does not use his full cryogenic force against the Zoms because there are only 50 million Earthmen left alive on the planet. It is better to act indirectly, to preserve human life, the Guardian suggests, even in the hideous form they are. Martinex then takes three out by freezing the ground beneath them. Suddenly, Nighthawk is disabled by a blast to his shoulder from the weapon of a Badoon guard and the Zoms are upon him. Silently, their voices stolen with their thoughts, the Zoms converge on the tottering Defender. Though he struggles valiantly, he struggles in vain. Sapped of his strength, he becomes helpless in their grasp. The battle ends when the Badoon guard holds his stun-pistol to Nighthawk's head and threatens Martinex and Charlie that either they surrender or watch their comrade perish. The two Guardians immediately cease their fighting and agree to show the Badoon their "mysterious" power source.
From the starship's bridge, the mind of the Sorcerer Supreme, still tied in to the sensor bank, continues its galaxy spanning search for his fellow Defenders. Probing, analyzing data with computer rapidity, reaching out into the clusters of stars...when suddenly, he makes contact. Familiar vibrations lead him to the Capella system, second planet from the sun. He also detects a stranger with readings which seem to indicate residue of a solar-type energy within.
Astro and Valkyrie (feeling improved following her ordeal with the lizard beasts) are instructed by their golden saviour that the time has come to travel. As they make their way through the swamp, Val prepares for an impending battle with the creatures. However, their mysterious host instructs Val to sheathe her blade lest she relish another attack of nausea. He informs Valkyrie that he is well aware that the warrior woman inhabits the body of Barbara Denton and that her new personality is the creation of the Enchantress. He also knows that the Valkyrie is powerless to defend herself against a foe of her own gender. Val is shocked speechless that he knows so much about her. Vance is shocked to learn that the swamp creatures were female. Their blue and gold companion relates to Astro that he is astonished that the Guardians of the Galaxy have learned so little of Earth's conquerors. He asks Vance why he assumed that the Brotherhood of Badoon could exist without a Sisterhood! Pulling back the tall grass, the stranger reveals Venesia, City of the Sisterhood of Badoon. Vance has trouble trying to grasp the fact that those "mindless beasts" forged a wonderful metallic metropolis afloat on the Swampworld's shallow waters with canals as thoroughfares. Hardly the domain of mindless beasts. The trio march up a narrow pathway to the city but Vance holds back telling their guide that judging from the swamp, they would not be welcome here. However, it would appear that their enemy is the Brotherhood, not its distaff counterpart, as a royal escort approaches them by boat, bringing greetings to the outworlders. Apparently, the Queen has requested an audience with them.
Back in Earth's orbit, the Badoon commander is incredulous when he discovers that the power source he was seeking is actually a outlandishly garbed human. The Badoon guard refuses to believe that a human brain could emit a probe of such intensity, especially one which is a corpse! Indeed, it appears that Strange is dead and Nighthawk exclaims that it cannot be! But, the Badoon believe that he apparently burned himself out. Looking closely, the Badoon commander ponders whether or not a medical team should be summoned to examine the cranium of this individual. However, the immediate problem, namely what to do with the three Earthlings, is his most pressing issue. He instructs the Zoms to escort the trio to the teleport chambers to take them back to Sol-III to face their execution! As the trio are teleported planetward, the astral form of Dr. Strange observes the odd goings-on with some amusement. Apparently, the Badoon have mistaken his physical body's decelerated metabolism for no life processes at all. Placing his trust in the resourcefulness of the Guardians to keep his fellow Defender alive on Earth, Dr. Strange hastens to the aid of the four missing heroes. Understanding that for the moment, Val and Astro are in no danger from their mysterious gold and blue companion, Dr. Strange sets out to find the Hulk and Yondu. He does so by proceeding the same distance at precisely the opposite angle from the course which lead him to Val and Vance.
The second trajectory, which is yet to be followed by Dr. Strange, leads to a drunkard's world ruled by the slack-jowled Emperor Goozot, Master of the Games. It is a world of bizarre technological intermixing where robots co-exist with medieval dungeons. Where, even now, the Hulk of the Defenders and the weapons master of the Guardians are being groomed to battle for their lives. While Yondu stands with a stun-pistol pointed at his back, the Hulk is restrained by two robots while a third affixes a metal armour around his head and mid-section. They do not struggle as they are both held in an hypnotic thrall. Meanwhile, Goozot looks on with obvious satisfaction at the contenders he has prepared for his arena. The Emperor barely notices his lovely courtesan linger behind and whisper to the Hulk that his strong physique pleases her, unlike the men on her planet who are weak with the weight of too much drink. She plans on seeing him again...after he survives the games.
The Games: or, better called the Super Death Sweepstakes. Robots escort the entranced Hulk and Yondu into the arena which is very much like a TV studio. In fact, the "show" is broadcast live into the streets (after all, it is the Death Festival!) where the public makes bets on who will survive. In studio, a panel of four watches on and under the guidance of the show's emcee, they choose the type of death for each contestant. For Yondu, they choose impalement! In a flash, he is teleported to a nearby isolated stage where the floor is tilted to 45 degrees and three wheeled robots with spears for arms rumble towards him just as he awakes from the trance. Mere seconds before the blue skinned Guardian is speared, he leaps over two of the robots for Yondu, who was bred in the wilderness of Centauri-IV is a tad more agile than the typical contestant. One robot gets stuck in the wall but the other two turn and make a second advance. However, because he survived the first round, the "rules" permit him to possess a weapon and suddenly, a mace appears in his hand. To the audience's surprise Yondu's hand is no stranger to the mace and before their startled eyes he lays waste to one of the mechanized assailants by smashing off its head. However, the blow separates the mace from its chain leaving the Centaurian defenseless against the last mechanized giant. The rolling machine rams Yondu and pins him against the arena's wall. Still, this leaves the robot itself unable to move as its spear like arms are embedded deep in the wall. For a moment it appears to be a stalemate, until the metal machine opens its mouth and sticks out a tongue made of metal which resembles a blade on an accordion hinge! The blade moves closer to Yondu's throat inch by inch. The audience loves the action and anticipates the demise of the blue skinned Guardian. However, they gasp in shock when Yondu rips the head off the metal robot by forcing the mace chain through its neck. The emcee announces that Yondu has won the Super-Death Sweepstakes and mysteriously, he is returned to the studio, where he is met by applause. His ovation is cut short when he is surrounded by guards and ushered away.
Meanwhile, Val and Astro reach the Palace Royal of the Sisterhood of Badoon on the Swampworld. Their blue and gold guide greets Queen Tolaria who returns the hail to the man who the Defenders finally learn is called Starhawk. She also welcomes the Terrans which causes Astro to flip out. He cannot understand the contrasting savagery and technology, nor can he understand that they are now being welcomed after nearly being killed earlier. The Queen explains: The sisters that Astro met in the swamp were not mindless berserkers, as he first thought, but were victims of Badoon biology. The Badoon evolved on this world many millions of years ago. Their race is older than the Kree, older than the Skrulls and yet they only recently reached technological; maturity due to an inborn genetic defect. The male Badoon hated the female and vice versa. The result was an ongoing war of the sexes. Mating was accomplished only through force and progress of any sort was impossible. Nature compensated by allowing the mating urge to strike only once in each Badoon's lifespan. But when it does, the Badoon race, male and female alike, is reduced to animals. Though fiercer and stronger than the males of the species, the Badoon females lacked their cunning and slyness and so, in time, they were overcome and placed in bondage, serving the males as slaves. The males then set about evolving a technology over many years. As the Brotherhood progressed from spears to spaceships, the ultimate segregation occurred: The males deserted their homeworld, returning only once each year in giant space arks bearing those whom the madness had stricken to propagate the race. When mating was done, the males collected and coded the eggs from which the infant Badoon will emerge. The eggs were then transported to the Brotherhood's planet where they were hatched in incubators. Hence, the males have assumed the responsibility for the process of childbirth. However, they have no desire to raise the female offspring so they are returned to the Swampworld, home of the Sisterhood. The Queen relates that she bears no malice to the males for it was probably the only solution. It seems that the Brotherhood is not aware of the Sisterhood's advances since their exodus and therefore, they appear to be no threat. Astro remarks that they have chosen to remain slaves then on their own accord. Val asks why they have not revolted? The Queen explains that they live in harmony so why would they? Vance informs the Queen that the Brotherhood has established an Empire which has plundered the galaxy and wantonly destroyed whole civilizations. Upon hearing this, the Queen is taken aback. She was unaware of the brutality of her brothers, assuming they had progressed culturally as the Sisterhood had. She then asks Starhawk if Astro speaks the truth. The blue and gold man relates that, indeed, Astro has not lied. Suddenly, Starhawk's suit changes as helmet appears on his head and wings unfold, extending from his shoulders to the back of his legs. He explains that he may say no more, having sown the seeds of Earth's salvation, his mission is fulfilled. He spreads his solar sails and the starwinds tug at them, calling him back to the void of space. As he flies off, he explains he will return when the seed's harvest is to be reaped.
The golden-winged mystery man hurtles through the sky of the Swampworld out into the trackless reaches of space, observed only by the startled astral eyes of Dr. Strange. Somehow, Strange feels it was his arrival to the planet that stimulated Starhawk's departure as he senses the merest trace of psychic ability in the figure. However, he has no time to reflect on this as their is still work to be done. Sending out bursts of energy from his hands, the Doctor finds the two swamp bound Defenders and transports them off the planet just as the Queen is explaining that she promises to investigate their claims further. Queen Tolaria gapes in astonishment at the wisps of smoke rising from the area where Val and Vance stood mere moments before. Have they been destoyed, reduced to vapour? Or, did they vanish of their own accord? And, if so do they still live in another place?
In a flash of light, Val and Vance rematerialize. However, they find themselves back on Earth in a courtyard, about to witness the public execution my firing squad of Nighthawk, Martinex and Charlie-27 at the hands of the Brothers of the Empire of the Badoon!
NEXT: Let my planet go! Defenders #29
Front Cover: The Defenders Issue 28