Appearing in "Xenogenesis Day of the Demons Part 2: Tyranny and Mutation"
- Ort-Beast (First appearance)
- Red Guardian
- Dollar Bill
- Unnamed technicians working for Nighthawk.
- Soviet scientists.
- Vladimer. Said to be from Georgia.
- Ringer (Mentioned)
- Stark International (Mentioned)
- Wong (Mentioned)
- United States Air Force (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- New York State
- A temple of the Agents of Fortune.
- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Topical reference)
- Cat Suit
- Eye of Agamotto
- Murder Machine. A complex machine using several weapons to test Nighthawk's technology and abilities.
- Shadow Cloak
- Vietnam War (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Xenogenesis Day of the Demons Part 2: Tyranny and Mutation"
The story opens in the pocket universe within Devil-Slayer's Shadow Cloak. Devil-Slayer notices Valkyrie's obvious disorientation, and starts doubting that she is a "Reaper of Souls" (assassin) of the Cult. Valkyrie introduces herself and reveals that she is unfamiliar with this Cult. Devil-Slayer introduces himself, and returns Dragonfang to its owner. He reveals that Vera Gemini is an emissary of the Cult, and that her organization has stolen the Eye of Agamotto. Their goal is to restore an ancient race of Demons to its role of domination over Earth. He had planned to capture Vera to ransom her in exchange for the Eye. He claims that Vera is a high official of the Cult. He is determined to prevent the Cult from using the Eye. Valkyrie offers her help to him. She also offers the help of the Hulk, who is still missing.
Devil-Slayer leads her to the Hulk. He is engaged in combat with the Ort-Beast, a crystalline inhabitant of the pocket universe. The Hulk is enraged, because he believes that the Ort-Beast is trying to eat him. Due to the realm around them which is constantly changing, the two combatants can not get the upper hand in this combat. The Ort-Beast's claws are prevented from harming the Hulk, while the Beast teleports away from his fists when he attacks. The Hulk is unhappy with this ever-changing world which prevents him from smashing monsters. He threatens to smash the world itself. The Ort-Beast reappears behind the Hulk's back, but is quite puzzled by his words. The Ort-Beast is sentient and highly intelligent. It believes that this is the best of all possible worlds, and wonders why this "soft green being" is dissatisfied with the world. The Hulk's allies call to him, with an offer to return him to Earth.
The Hulk sees Valkyrie with Devi-Slayer. He is aware that Devil-Slayer is the one who trapped him in this pocket universe. He now fears that Devil-Slayer is stealing his friend Valkyrie from him. So he attacks Devil-Slayer, determined to not let the man steal his friends. Devil-Slayer warns him that he can not even lay hands on him. Then he absorbs Hulk in his cape and teleports him away. The Ort-Beast briefly attempts to follow the Hulk, but gives up. Devil-Slayer explains to Valkyrie that she needs to prepare to to step through his Shadow Cloak again. He intends for them to visit Dr. Strange, the only person who could help him fight the Demon invasion.
Devil-Slayer and Valkyrie join the Hulk in a strange location. The Hulk thinks that Devil-Slayer has somehow tricked Valkyrie, but then recognizes that the location is the Sanctum Sanctorum. Valkyrie wants to consult Strange on the matter of demons. The Hulk instead grabs Devil-Slayer and intends to hurt him. Payne intends to retaliate, but Valkyrie breaks up the fight before it even begins. They are met by Strange, who has bandages on his head and acts as if already defeated. Strange blames himself for losing the Eye of Agamotto.
Strange knows Eric Payne's name, which Devil-Slayer takes as a sign of honor. Hulk is instead frustrated that Strange seems to be a friend of Devil-Slayer. The Hulk questions why Strange wears these bandages. Strange admits that he has never met Payne before, and that he was until recently unaware of his existence. But he now knows that they have enemies in common, such as the Agent of Fortune who managed to injure him. Strange admits to spying on the Cult, and to having learned that they Share Devil-Slayer's powers. He explains some more facts about the Cult.
The scene shifts to the temple in Mexico, where the Cultists have just offered human sacrifice to the demons. The demon Belathauzer steps forth from the sacrificial flames and announces his intentions to rule. The bodies of the victims in the altar dissolve, as Belathauzer's demon form grows more substantial.
As the other Cultists retreat in fear of the Demon, Vera Gemini steps forth and reveals herself to Belathauzer. She explains that she is the one who conceived the plan of Xenogenesis. She is half-mortal and half-demon, and introduces herself as the shame of the demon race. Her dual heritage has made her scorned by other demons, but has given her the power to breach their race's ancient bondage.
Belathauzer considers her existence and heritage to be "blasphemous", but appreciates the fact that Vera has two faces and has served their cause well. He promises her that he and the Ruling Circle will eventually decide whether she has in fact vindicated her existence. Belathauzer announces that he is prepared to assume human guise. He explains that demons use human personas while on Earth, which they use to survive in this environment. There is no way to know which humans are simply demons in disguise. They include heads of nations, heads of religious cults, heads of political movements, common muggers, and mass murderers. Each using their influence in subtle and strategic ways, calculated to cause fear and violence among humans. They are softening the human race for the final blow. Each demon works to restore their race to power over the Earth.
The scene shifts to Dr. Strange, who finishes explaining what he has learned of the Cult and their plan. He has also found out that Vera has a hidden agenda of her own. She plans to usurp the power of the demon lords for herself. Strange explains that the Cult no longer needs secrecy for their activities, because their victory seems assured. Earth has little time to prepare for defence, and few defenders. But Strange suggests that the Defenders have to join forces. Devil-Slayer is reluctant to join forces with the Defenders. He has served in the Vietnam War, he has served the mob, and he used to serve the Cult. Each time his service was rewarded with betrayal. He is sick of secret motives and unquestioned obedience. He has already lost his wife, his innocence, and his idealism. However, joining seems to be the only way to complete his war against the Cult. So he welcomes the Defenders as his new allies and takes Dr. Strange's offered hand and shakes it.
Strange promises that Payne's trust is not misplaced. Strange tasks the Hulk and Valkyrie with summoning the rest of the team. He and Payne will prepare to invade the stronghold of the Cult. Valkyrie notices an unusual rapport between Strange and Payne. Hulk does not understand what just happened, and complains that he does not like it.
The scene shifts to Mexico, where Belathauzer now possesses a human body. Vera informs him that the body's previous owner was the commander of an American Air-Force base. By impersonating him, Belathauzer gains control over several war toys. Particularly the nuclear war toys present some interesting possibilities for use.
The scene shifts to the Richmond Riding Academy in Long Island. Hellcat is test driving Nighthawk's new sports car (the Hellcatmobile). She is driving fast and recklessly. Nighthawk is sweating, worried that she is going to destroy the car in an accident. Hellcat manages to park the car safely. Nighthawk is angry with her, but Hellcat pretends to ignore his anger and compliments his car.
A calmer Nighthawk prepares to test his new jet-pack. He briefly explains how it works, and that his technicians are loyal and well-paid. Hellcat gives him a peck on the cheek, and wishes him good luck. As Nighthawk takes off, the new jet-pack turns out to be nearly silent and extremely fast. Nighthawk is thrilled to be able to fly again, after being grounded by the Ringer. He feels like returning home. After a while, the technicians turn off the lights. Nighthawk continues his test flight in complete darkness, using his infra-red lenses to see his surroundings. He tests the lenses' ability to zoom in on targets. He then tests his new navigational radar, which in part works as an autopilot. His offensive weapons are not yet ready.
Nighthawk prepares to to enter a new phase of his tests. He prepares to test himself against the Murder Machine, a complex machine using several weapons in order to test Nighthawk's technology and abilities. He had it constructed to emulate everything a super-villain could throw at him in a battle. Tentacles emerge from the Machine and almost trap Nighthawk, but he breaks free. The next traps are even more dangerous. Hellcat decides to give Nighthawk a helping hand, and joins the fight against the Murder Machine. One of the traps emulates the Ringer's powers, and Hellcat's legs are soon bound in rings. While trying to escape, Hellcat pushes buttons which accelerate the Machine. Now she and Nighthawk are are under constant attack by an incredibly fast machine.
As the two heroes seem about to get killed, the technicians are unable to help them. A suddenly arriving Hulk destroys the machine, and rescues their lives. The Hulk complains that he keeps having to prevent Nighthawk from killing himself. Valkyrie takes care of a bound and disoriented Hellcat. Hulk tends to the exhausted Nighthawk, but scolds the man for playing with "stupid machines".
The scene shifts to the Soviet Union, where the Red Guardian is undergoing tests from a duo of scientists. She is currently held under voluntary quarantine, and allows the scientists to search for a cure for her recent mutation into a radioactive being. Her dangerous signs show now sign of diminishing, and the scientists have realized that there is no cure for her condition. They are worried, because they have no way of preventing her eventual escape. They can not hold her forever. The scene ends.
The scene shifts to the astral form of Dr. Strange, who is exploring the arcane dimension where the Demons were exiled. His real body is in the Sanctum Sanctorum with Devil-Slayer. The two of them combined their powers to find and infiltrate this dimension. He is confronted by a number of demons, but he outclasses them and easily defeats them. His astral form suddenly becomes corporeal. He is confronted by Vera Gemini in her demonic form. She has used the Eye of Agamotto to create a direct dimensional doorway, which connects Earth and the Demon Realm. Everyone on the Demon Realm is gaining corporeal form and prepares to be displaced to Earth.
Doctor Strange is soon defeated and appears to merge with a group of demons. Demon-Slayer realizes what happened. In a move of desperation, he teleports to Mexico for a frontal attack on the Cult. He finds the Agent of Fortune waiting for him. He has been waiting to kill Payne, and replace him as a Reaper of Souls and Agent of Death.
The scene shifts to the exterior of the Sanctum Sanctorum, where Hellcat, Hulk, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie are expecting someone to open the door for them. Nobody seems to be responding to their knocking, and the Hulk offers to knock the door down. The door finally opens. The one who opened the door is Dollar Bill, who was expecting the Defenders to arrive. He claims that Dr. Strange is dead. The story ends.
- In this issue, the Hulk seems possessive of his friend Valkyrie, and does not intend to either loose her or share her with others.
- As of this issue, Nighthawk owns and uses new advanced equipment as part of his uniform. The equipment was constructed by his own company Richmond Enterprises, though some of the technology was reportedly purchased from Stark International.
- The Hulk rescues Hellcat and Nighthawk from the Murder Machine, one of Nighthawk's own creations. They seem to owe their lives to him.
- The subplot involving the Red Guardian continues in Defenders Vol 1 64 (October, 1978) and concludes in Defenders Vol 1 65 (November, 1978).
- The "Xenogenesis" story of Defenders #58-60 includes numerous tributes to the rock group Blue Oyster Cult. Vera Gemini, the name of the principle villain of the whole story, derives her name from a song, "the Revenge of Vera Gemini". The title of this issue's story, "Tyranny and Mutation", was also the title for the band's debut album.
- On page 11, the demon Belathauzer explains how members of his demonic race already roam Earth disguised as humans in order to sow discord and create chaos. During this monologue, Belathauzer is surrounded by a montage of faces. Although not named, the faces are clearly renderings of real-life people of notoriety during the late 1970s: Idi Amin, Chairman Mao, Yassar Arafat, the Ku Klux Klan, Charles Manson, and the Son of Sam. The implication is that these real-life figures (or at least their Marvel Comics Earth-616 counterparts) are secret demons.
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