Appearing in "The Kickshaws Consignment"
- Minerva Bannister (First appearance)
- Rufus T. Hackstabber
- Captain Van Vliet (Only appearance; dies)
- Detective Henry Crun (First appearance)
Synopsis for "The Kickshaws Consignment"
Daimon and Patsy Hellstrom are riding in a taxi driven by the eccentric Rufus T. Hackstabber, who looks a lot like Groucho Marx. Hackstabber brings them to the mansion of wealthy Captain Van Vliet, who has hired the Hellstroms in their capacity as occult investigators. Van Vliet asked Daimon to also call in the Beast and the Gargoyle because they are the only other remaining Defenders who fought the Six-Fingered Hand. Van Vliet explains that he is a collector of occult antiquities and has recently discovered that a statue called the Lesser Grey God has surfaced somewhere in San Francisco. Before he can explain further, they are interrupted by Detective Henry Crun, who says that he has a warrant to search the place. Suddenly, import/export expediter Oliver Cutlass—whom the Gargoyle has encountered before—comes flying through the window, along with a grenade. Cutlass tosses the grenade to Van Vliet, who tosses it to the Beast, who tosses it to Hackstabber, who knocks it out of the window with a tennis racket. Detective Crun claims that he has a complaint from Minerva Bannister that the Lesser Grey God was stolen from her and is somewhere on the premises. Cutlass points out the person who threw the grenade is getting away, so the Detective leaves to pursue him. Cutlass explains that he and his wife, Kwan Tai Fung a.k.a. “Typhoon,” are searching for a missing shipment that was addressed to Miss Bannister and listed on the manifest as “Kickshaws.” The trail led to Van Vliet’s place, where Cutlass saw a man with a grenade lurking around outside and struggled with him before being tossed through the window. Van Vliet claims that he is also looking for the shipment and hires Cutlass and Typhoon to find it. Daimon reveals that the Lesser Grey God has the power to revive old enchantments and powers such as his Darksoul. The Defenders hear a gunshot coming from Van Vliet’s room, where they find the Captain dead. There is no bullet wound, and the Captain was apparently stabbed through the heart, even though there is no knife. However, there is also the smell of cyanide from a glass of water he drank, as well as traces of ice cubes in the water and a thin sliver of ice at his bedside. They find a note in his hand that reads, “My dearest Mina.” Another shot rings out, and the Defenders find assassins escaping on a helicopter, while one leaps on top of Detective Crun’s car. Gargoyle takes out the helicopter, while Beast takes out the assassin on Crun’s car. Daimon and Cutlass believe that Miss Bannister is behind everything, so the Defenders go to her mansion for answers. There, Cutlass finds the Kickshaws consignment, along with the Lesser Grey God statue, which turns out to be a hollow fake. Cutlass deduces that, when Bannister discovered the statue was a fake, she assumed that Van Vliet must have the original. She sent assassins to kill Van Vliet and called Crun to pick up the real statue, but Van Vliet didn’t have it. Van Vliet was in love with Bannister and couldn’t bring himself to accuse her, so he committed suicide and left a note that pointed to her as the suspect. But Cutlass still doesn’t understand why. Hackstabber arrives with former vampire detective, Hannibal King, who explains that Bannister had begged him for years to make her a vampire. When Dr. Strange destroyed the spell that allowed vampires to exist, her dreams of immortality were gone…unless the Lesser Grey God could restore the spell. Fearful that Bannister might become a vampire, Van Vliet killed himself with an ice dagger through the heart and took the cyanide to deaden the pain. The quote Van Vliet left behind as a clue, “My dearest Mina,” is the first line in Bram Stoker's novel, DRACULA. Bannister orders her men to attack, but the Defenders make short work of them, while she tries to escape but trips on Hackstabber’s tennis racket. Cutlass tells the Defenders that they are still amateurs, but they are getting better. As the Defenders depart, they speculate on the whereabouts of the real Lesser Grey God statue, unaware that it has been the hood ornament on Hackstabber’s cab all along.
- Daimon Hellstrom supposedly contacts the Beast and Gargoyle for help because they are the only remaining Defenders who fought the Six-Fingered Hand, even though Beast was not part of the group at that time and Valkyrie was.
Van Vliet's name is a possible homage to avant-garde rock musician Captain Beefheart.
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- ↑ First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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