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Defenders, The #39: Review

Sep 1976
Steve Gerber, Klaus Janson

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Story Name:

Riot In Cellblock 12!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Defenders, The #39 Review by (August 24, 2021)

Review: So, after an alien cult whose members wear clown makeup, what could they do to top it? How about a standard 1940s prison picture? Steve Gerber must have seen CAGED (1950) the night before he wrote this script. Mean warden, tough guards, tougher inmates, sadistic punishments, solitary, revolts, all of the cliches are here—with the added scene of a prisoner knocking the door off the solitary cell. The oddest thing is the fact that the plea for reform is apparently meant to be taken seriously. Oh, and Luke Cage is accused of sex trafficking white women or something like that. No worries, it’s one of those problems that can be solved by clobbering a bigot. And the shadiest moment is the cover, which attaches a much more dire situation to the brief bit of Clea creating a distraction, while also including Dr. Strange, who isn’t there, and popping in an inset of the Hulk, who only appears in a brief non-controversial flashback, and suggesting something weird is happening. Talk about bait-and-switch! Oh and four stars to CAGED; go see it when you can.

Comments: Jack Norriss mentions movie special effects master Ray Harryhausen and famed aviator Amelia Earhart.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Defenders, The #39 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

While Doctor Strange is lost in meditation for hours, Clea tries to calm the impatient Defenders downstairs. Wong admits the agitated Jack Norriss who is worried that Valkyrie (whom he wrongly considers his wife) is missing. Nighthawk sets up a plan to search for her. Norriss will phone hospitals, Luke Cage and Red Guardian will look around the site where she was last seen, while NH follows up on some leads of his own….

Meanwhile, we know where Val is: in prison for wrecking the restaurant in issue #35. She is called into the Warden’s office where he gets a little touchy-feely so Val clobbers him and she is sent back to a labor detail….

Cage and Tania look around the squalid Times Square of the 1970s for signs of Val. Cage mistakes a woman with a similar hairstyle for her and a tough guy accuses him of preying on white women; Cage and then Tania must discourage him, violently, from bothering them….

In prison, Val is ordered to mop all the floors; she refuses as she has done nothing to warrant punishment. The watching inmates applaud her. The Warden again touches her and she decks him and is sent to solitary for it, which she welcomes. After several hours, though, she becomes fed up with the entire prison experience, knocks the door off the cell and discovers that the prisoners have revolted and taken the Warden and other staff hostage. Elsewhere, Kyle Richmond has met with the Police Commissioner and discovered what has happened. At the prison, Val is listening to the complaints about the place from her friend Shirley; she knows nothing constructive will happen with the bullying Felicia in charge and so confronts the woman, asking to use the phone to contact her friends. Felicia sees this as a challenge to her authority and attacks Val who is able to defend herself and render her foe helpless without a great show of violence. Outside, Clea creates a blinding fireball in the sky to distract the police while the Defenders break into the prison. They discover Val in charge and she promises to intercede for the inmates in reforming the place….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Klaus Janson
Klaus Janson
Don Warfield
(Unknown artist) (Cover Penciler)
Dan Adkins (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Sal Buscema.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Kyle Richmond)
Red Guardian
Red Guardian

(Tania Belinsky)


Plus: Defenders, Jack Norriss (Jackson Norriss).

> Defenders, The: Book info and issue index

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