Appearing in "Dollar Bill's Documentary Disaster Part 1: Membership Madness!"
- Defenders for a Day (First appearance)
- Black Goliath (Joins team)
- Captain Marvel (Joins team)
- Captain Ultra (Joins team)
- Falcon (Joins team)
- Havok (Joins team)
- Hercules (Joins team)
- Iron Fist (Joins team)
- Jack of Hearts (Joins team)
- Marvel Man (Joins team)
- Ms. Marvel (Joins team)
- Nova (Joins team)
- Paladin (Joins team)
- Polaris (Joins team)
- Prowler (Joins team)
- Son of Satan (Joins team)
- Stingray (Joins team)
- Tagak (Joins team)
- Torpedo (Joins team)
- White Tiger (Joins team)
- Dollar Bill
- Agent of Fortune (Only in flashback)
- Spider-Man (Only in flashback)
- Lunatik (Only in flashback)
- The Presence
- Unnamed horses of the Richmond Riding Academy.
- Hela (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- Stormtroopers (Mentioned)
- United States Air Force (Only in flashback)
- Dr. Strange (Mentioned)
- Creature from the Black Lagoon/Gill-man. (Mentioned)
- Daily Bugle (Mentioned)
- God (Mentioned)
- Champions (Mentioned)
- Zeus (Mentioned)
- Thanos (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Homo sapiens
- Homo superior
- Human-Kree Hybrids
- Wookiee (Mentioned)
- New York City
- Valhalla (Mentioned)
- Empire State University (Mentioned)
- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Topical reference)
- Olympus (Mentioned)
- Hala (Mentioned)
- Cat Suit
- Spider-Man's Suit (Only in flashback)
- Ms. Marvel's Suit
- Stingray's Suit
- Captain Marvel's Suit
- Falcon's Wings
- Prowler's Suit
- Shadow Cloak. A teleportation cloak used by Hellcat.
- Torpedo Armor
- White Tiger Amulet
Synopsis for "Dollar Bill's Documentary Disaster Part 1: Membership Madness!"
The story opens to the Richmond Riding Academy, the current headquarters of the Defenders. The four members of the team, Hellcat, Hulk, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie, are enjoying a quiet evening and prepare to play a game of Frisbee. Both the Hulk and Valkyrie claim unfamiliarity with the game.
Hellcat throws the Frisbee far away, using her enhanced strength and agility. Nighthawk uses the jet pack of his uniform to fly and catch the Frisbee. He then tosses the Frisbee to the Hulk and instructs him to throw it to Val. The Hulk does as he is told, but throws the Frisbee with incredible speed and strength. The disc is too fast for Valkyrie to catch. It ends up hitting her with great impact and sending her flying back. Her superhuman physiology ensures that she emerges unharmed, but Nighthawk declares that the game is over. The Hulk apologizes for unintentionally hurting Val.
At this moment, their associate Dollar Bill excitedly invites them to watch his Defenders documentary on their television. Hellcat observes that he never informed them that he was producing a television special about them. Dollar explains that he was prepared to surprise them. Nighthawk is angry since the existence of the Defenders was supposed to be a secret. Their friend just blew their cover, so Nighthawk threatens to sue Dollar Bill for profiting from an unauthorized documentary about them. Dollar claims that he has just made Nighthawk a star. He was honestly expecting the leader of the Defenders to thank him, but Nighthawk calls him a "creep".
While Nighthawk is angry, Hellcat is excited. She can not wait to see herself on television and does not intend to miss any minute from the documentary. She drags along an unexcited Hulk. Nighthawk recalls that Hellcat is a former fashion model and loves publicity. Val instructs Nighthawk to calm down, pointing out that the damage is already done and his angry words cannot undo it. She also points out that Dollar Bill was acting with good intentions. Nighthawk calms down a bit, though he is still expecting trouble from this documentary. Val instructs Dollar Bill to never act without permission again before leading the two men inside.
As the team is waiting in front of their television set, Nighthawk complains about the television commercials. The Hulk claims that he does not like to watch television and threatens to smash the television set. Hellcat wishes she had some popcorn to eat while watching. The television broadcast begins and the documentary, called The Dynamic Defenders, contains footage from the latest adventures of the Defenders, starting with the Xenogenesis saga when the Defenders prevented the rebirth of the Demon race on Earth. The film depicts the Hulk destroying an aircraft of the United States Air Force. It informs people that Valkyrie recently killed Dr. Strange while he was in monster form, an act which freed and restored the sorcerer. The film proceeds with footage of the Defenders teaming-up with Spider-Man against Lunatik. Dollar Bill claims in the film that Spider-Man is a hero and that the Daily Bugle is wrong about him. Dollar Bill also informs people that that Lunatik loves to crack people's skulls with his steel stuff.
Nighthawk is surprised because the documentary depicts Lunatik's escape path in their latest encounter. Lunatik escaped through a secret tunnel located at the base of a statue. Nighthawk was unaware of how Lunatik managed to escape and had not thought there was a secret passage around. The other Defenders were also unaware of it, since Dollar Bill did not tell them about it. Valkyrie wonders how Lunatik found out about the passage, but the Hulk does not really care about Lunatik and his secrets.
The documentary continues, and Dollar Bill explains to the viewers a key difference between the Avengers and the Defenders. He claims that the Defenders are a non-team, with no charters and no rules. Anyone with superpowers can declare himself a Defender and automatically become a member. Dollar Bill personally invites super-humans to join the team and declares the address on television: "Richmond Riding Academy, Nassau County, Long Island, New York". He wants heroes to join the team as quick as possible. Dollar Bill informs viewers that he is the Defenders' press agent and that he is going to exclusively film their exploits. He calls the Defenders his own team, as if he has rights over them. The documentary ends.
Nighthawk is enraged that Dollar Bill has become the team's self-appointed press agent. He accuses Dollar Bill of using them to get exclusive footage. Dollar Bill is rather intimidated, but Hellcat instructs Nighthawk to calm down. Valkyrie agrees with Patsy as she can see that the team's veil of anonymity is gone, but does not consider this to be the end of their world. Hellcat, on the other hand, is happy and considers her a television star. The Hulk does not get the "star" reference and tells Hellcat that she is not a burning light in the sky. Nighthawk states his belief that Dollar Bill just ruined the Defenders, because everybody will want to be a Defender. Valkyrie thinks that Nighthawk is overreacting to the situation.
The scene shifts to the Soviet Union. Presence hovers over a desolate wasteland, which is filled with the melted wreckage of various vehicles. He claims that his fears have been realized. He and his allies in the Soviet government had desperately tried to mask their mistakes and to deny their indiscretions. An experiment gone awry was covered by a seal of secrecy, and they hoped that the problem would just go away. From what he can see, the truth is about to emerge triumphant. And in this case, the truth is ugly, alien, and deadly dangerous.
The Presence and his allies were aloof and secure, serene in their protective cocoon of bureaucracy and technology. Then, they were humbled. Their problem can be contained no longer, and it currently demands its due. The Presence feels that he has sinned against humanity. Now his sin has come back to haunt him, and to haunt his people. The scene ends.
The scene skips ahead to the following morning, in the Richmond Riding Academy. The doorbell keeps ringing loudly, and an annoyed Nighthawk intends to open the door to see who is doing the ringing. To Nighthawk's surprise, he finds Dollar Bill sleeping on the floor, right next to the door. All this noise has failed to wake him up. Nighthawk opens the door and is greeted by an army of superheroes who want to join the Defenders. The spokesman of this group is Hercules, who claims that this is the Defenders' finest day.
Nighthawk thinks this is a disaster for his team and blames it on Dollar Bill. He wakes up Dollar Bill and kicks him out of the Academy, with instructions to never return. The Falcon scolds Nighthawk for mistreating Dollar Bill. Nighthawk reacts by grabbing one of the Falcon's legs and trying to pick a fight with him. The two of them take off flying. Falcon manages to free himself from Nighthawk's hold and tries to convince his opponent that they are part of the same team. Nighthawk flies after him, intending to chase away the would-be Defender. Falcon deduces that Nighthawk has a serious attitude problem.
Hellcat, the Hulk, and Valkyrie have woken up, and gaze at the gathered heroes through a window. Hellcat is very happy to see many good-looking males turning up at her doorstep. She thinks that she and Val can choose potential mates among these men. The Hulk does not like what he sees and asks Valkyrie's permission to smash the crowd. Valkyrie denies him permission and identifies the gathered heroes as their guests. She intends to show them hospitality. Val asks Patsy to prepare morning coffee for the crowd. Hellcat denies the request, as she keeps having trouble with the team's coffee pot. She intends to mingle with the crowd and show off her new Shadow Cloak. Valkyrie decides to prepare the coffee herself and asks the Hulk's help. The Hulk is disappointed that he is not allowed to smash.
Outside, Hellcat greets Captain Ultra, Paladin, and Torpedo. They are impressed with her looks, but Torpedo tells her that he is already married. Hellcat tells him that this is only bad for him, a comment which Torpedo seems to dislike. Hellcat starts flirting with Captain Ultra, and he tries to impress her.
Nearby, Nova has located the horses of the Academy and intends to ride one. He suggests a competition to Marvel Man, on which one of them will get to the horses first. He takes off, flying. Marvel Man chases after him, and the White Tiger voluntarily joins their race.
Elsewhere, a few of the would-be Defenders discuss about the leadership of the team. Black Goliath suggests finding a leader to handle all those hot-shots in the team. Jack of Hearts nominates Captain Marvel for the leadership. Ms. Marvel, Havok, Tagak, and Stingray all voice their support for Captain Marvel. The Captain turns down the offer, because he thinks there is someone more qualified than him.
The Captain nominates Hercules, because this hero is a former Avenger, has served as the former leader of the Champions, is a seasoned warrior, and is a proven leader of men. Ms. Marvel wants the Defenders to be a democratic team and suggests that their leadership should be elected. Nine heroes immediately vote for Hercules. Hercules accepts the duty, and promises to serve as long as the team needs him.
Meanwhile, Nova gets to the horses first. Nova, Marvel Man, the White Tiger, and the Prowler each pick a horse to ride. They are enthusiastic, but inexperienced riders. Their moves scare the horses, and they all have a difficult time staying on their saddles. However, they do manage to learn how to tame their horses, and their riding experience is enjoyable. The White Tiger feels like a noble caballero.
Above them, Nighthawk is still chasing Falcon. An aerial maneuver scares the horse again, and they almost throw down their riders. The four riders tame the horses again, but they are enraged with Nighthawk and the Falcon. They ride after the flying heroes, intending to get revenge.
Back in the Academy, Valkyrie and the Hulk are serving coffee to the gathered heroes. Valkyrie has trouble recognizing her former ally Ms. Marvel, because Carol is wearing a new version of the Ms. Marvel's Suit. Stingray hopes to avoid being recognized by his old foe, the Hulk. There is a problem with the coffee served, as Valkyrie has no previous experience with making coffee, and she did not think of adding any cream or sugar. Her coffee is way too strong and bitter, with most of the heroes simply taking a sip and then throwing it to the ground. Stingray calls this coffee a "Devil's brew" and the Son of Satan agrees with him. Captain Marvel is certain that even Thanos would be unable to drink this. Hercules shows his disgust for the coffee to Valkyrie, who feels insulted.
Nearby, Torpedo has summoned Black Goliath, Havok, Iron Fist, and Tagak for a secret meeting. He tells them that the Hulk is a menace, and it is their duty to capture him. He starts explaining his plan to do so. In another location, Captain Ultra and Jack of Hearts compete for the attention of Hellcat. Captain Ultra gets territorial and starts arguing with Jack. Hellcat realizes they are about to fight and tries to calm them down. Ultra accuses her of "playing the field" and toying with them. He shoves her angrily aside, an action which Jack finds insulting. They start arguing again and exchange insults. Their argument is about to get into a fist fight, but they have failed to notice the four heroes on horseback approaching. The four of them are chasing after Nighthawk and the Falcon, and their galloping horses nearly trample Ultra and Jack.
Elsewhere, Hulk has isolated himself from the crowd. He stands alone behind a tall bush and contemplates his situation. He does not like so many heroes being around, and Valkyrie has forbidden him to smash them away. He does not like where this is going and thinks about quitting the team. He is then ambushed by Torpedo and his group as they emerge from the bushes and attack the Hulk.
- While this story features many heroes showing up for membership in the Defenders, a number of heroes shown on the cover did not even appear in this issue, these characters are: Iron Man, who does appear briefly in the next issue but not to join the group, Human Torch, Power Man, who has already previously been a member of the Defenders, Angel, who would eventually join up with the Defenders at a later date, and Spider-Woman.
- Lunatik next appears in Defenders #64
- Letters page 'Defenders Dialogue' with letters from Jim Rivers, Dave Cerreta, Jacob Lasky, and Richard Bedard.
- During the documentary, Dollar Bill compares the Defenders to a Wookiee who is wiping out stormtroopers. The issue was published in 1978, and this is a reference to then-recent film Star Wars (1977).
- In the universe of the film series, the Wookiee are a humanoid race, covered in fur and possessing incredible strength. They resemble Primates and have been compared in appearance to the Bigfoot/Sasquatch of North American folklore. The heroic character Chewbacca (nicknamed "Chewie") is a Wookiee.
- In the universe of the film series, the stormtroopers are the soldiers of the Galactic Empire. Their main activities are establishing imperial authority over a vast galaxy and putting down revolts. The stormtroopers typically wear a distinctive white battle armor, which completely covers their bodies and faces. The armors serve to mask their individual appearances. The members of the stormtroopers are mostly nameless and indistinguishable from each other. The name of the stormtroopers likely derives from the stormtroopers of Earth-1218, specialist soldiers of the German Army during World War I.
- During the documentary, Dollar Bill compares the monstrous form of Dr. Strange to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is another name for the Gill-man, a monster character created by Universal Studios. The Gill-man appeared in three 1950s films: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). The Gill-man is an amphibious creature, depicted as a humanoid fish who can breath in and out of water. The creature is depicted as having webbed hands, sharp claws, scaly skin which is resistant to injuries, and a regenerative healing factor which keeps restoring him to life. He is supposed to be the last survivor of an ancient race. In the first two films of his series, the Gil-man develops an infatuation with Homo sapiens women, and attempts to abduct two separate women (Kay Lawrence and Helen Dobson) in an attempt to mate with them.
- During the documentary, Dollar Bill informs people that the Daily Bugle is wrong about Spider-Man. This is part of a long-running plot in the Spider-related books, where the Bugle publishes news items and editorials which depict Spider-Man as a villain and/or a menace. The misinformation campaign and the negative publicity cause most people to fear and distrust Spider-Man, despite his lifelong efforts to be a hero. The campaign is typically depicted as a result of the editorial policy of J. Jonah Jameson, who is personally biased against Spidey.
- The scene involving the Presence takes place in the Soviet Union. This is a topical reference, due to the Sliding Timescale. In Earth-1218, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and its 15 constituent republics gained independence.
- The subplot involving the Presence continues in the following issue, Defenders Vol 1 63 (September, 1978).
- This issue is the first appearance of the Defenders for a Day. Their storyline continues in the following issue, Defenders Vol 1 63 (September, 1978).
- With so many characters involved in the story, most of them get few speaking lines. Polaris is the only one with no speaking lines.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which covers character appearances, has the following information about the characters of the issue:
- Black Goliath previously appeared in Spider-Woman Vol 1 4 (July, 1978).
- Captain Marvel previously appeared in Thor Vol 1 271 (May, 1978).
- Captain Ultra previously appeared in Fantastic Four Vol 1 178 (January, 1977).
- Dollar Bill next appears in Defenders Vol 1 64 (October, 1978).
- Falcon previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 71 (July, 1978).
- Havok previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 70 (June, 1978).
- Hercules previously appeared in Avengers Vol 1 177 (November, 1978).
- Iron Fist previously appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist Vol 1 53 (October, 1978).
- Jack of Hearts previously appeared in Marvel Premiere Vol 1 44 (October, 1978).
- Marvel Man previously appeared in Captain America Vol 1 218 (February, 1978).
- Ms. Marvel previously appeared in Avengers Annual Vol 1 8 (1978).
- Nova previously appeared in Thor Vol 1 271 (May, 1978).
- Paladin previously appeared in Daredevil Vol 1 154 (September, 1978).
- Polaris previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 69 (May, 1978).
- Prowler previously appeared in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Vol 1 21 (February, 1976).
- Son of Satan previously appeared in Tomb of Dracula Vol 1 53 (February, 1977).
- Stingray previously appeared in Incredible Hulk Vol 1 221 (March, 1978).
- Tagak previously appeared in Daredevil Vol 1 72 (January, 1971).
- Torpedo previously appeared in Marvel Premiere Vol 1 40 (February, 1978).
- White Tiger previously appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol 1 23 (October, 1978).