Appearing in "Deadlier by the Dozen!"
- Defenders for a Day
- Defenders (Villains) (First appearance)
- Unnamed horse of the Richmond Riding Academy.
- The Presence
- Iron Man
- Giant Amoeba. A monster hiding in Khystym.
- Hela (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- Unnamed juvenile car thief, calling himself a Defender.
- Unnamed car thief's father.
- Zodiac (Mentioned)
- Hank Pym (Mentioned)
- Atlas (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- New York State
- New York City
- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Topical reference)
- Olympus (Mentioned)
- Beetle Armor MK I
- Captain Marvel's Suit
- Cat Suit
- Falcon's Wings
- Hellstrom's Trident
- Iron Man Armor Model 4
- Life-Model Decoy
- Ms. Marvel's Suit
- Porcupine Armor
- Prowler's Suit
- Quantum Bands
- Stingray's Suit
- Torpedo Armor
- White Tiger Amulet
- Cold War (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Deadlier by the Dozen!"
The story opens with the Hulk fighting Black Goliath, Havok, Prowler, Stingray, and Torpedo. Black Goliath calls for the Hulk to surrender to the Defenders. Hulk has no intention of surrendering and easily swats Stingray away. Hulk is then simultaneously blasted by Havok and Tagak, and punched by the Black Goliath. He seems pained from the attacks, but does not fall.
Nearby, an angry Nighthawk keeps chasing after the Falcon. The Falcon lands on the ground and tries to calm him down. Nighthawk also lands, and the two of them seem ready for a fistfight. Nearby, Iron Fist is riding a horse and tries to stay on the saddle. Falcon and Nighthawk have spooked the horse, and it throws Iron Fist off its back. An angry Hulk manages to throw Black Goliath, Havok, and Torpedo to the ground. He declares that he has had enough.
As the Defenders start fighting each other in a free-for-all, Valkyrie and Hellcat look worried about the situation. The two of them ask Hercules to do something about it. (Hercules has just been elected the leader of the Defenders for a Day). Before they have a chance to act, Iron Man arrives. He brings a letter for Hellcat, which had been laying around the Avengers Mansion for quite a while. Iron Man informs the Defenders that an entire horde of super-villains were inspired by the Defenders television documentary. They call themselves Defenders and are currently rampaging in Manhattan. Hellcat and Valkyrie decide that the real Defenders have to respond to this threat.
Hercules thinks that they first have to restore order to their ranks. Valkyrie suggests reasoning with their disorderly members, but Hercules regards them as bereft from reason and lusting for battle. He has his own plan on how to discipline them, by allowing them to comprehend a power greater than their own. Hercules uproots a tree with his bare and swings it like a bat. He sends Black Goliath, Iron Fist, Nighthawk, and Stingray flying. He then informs the team about the False Defenders and the need to act against them. Captain Ultra thinks that Hercules is a "windbag", but chooses not to voice his opinion.
There is a sole dissenting voice among the Defenders, the Hulk. He is still angry due to the attack of the newcomers, and feels incensed that they expect him to fight for them. He tells them to fight their own fights and quits the team. He leaps away and disappears. Hercules thinks that the Hulk is a brute and an ill-tempered lout. Valkyrie defends the Hulk by claiming that her friend has suffered much under the hands of men. She thinks that the Hulk is seeking a brief respite from his suffering.
With so many available Defenders, Valkyrie suggests that they should divide themselves into three teams. This will allow them to scout the entire island of Manhattan. She decides that Hercules should lead the first group. Valkyrie herself will lead the second group, and Nighthawk will lead the third and final group. Nighthawk takes the time to apologize to the gathered heroes for his earlier behavior.
Hercules gets to choose his team first. He chooses 6 Defenders to follow him: Black Goliath, Captain Ultra, Havok, Hellcat, Iron Fist, and the White Tiger. Hellcat thinks that the villains will not have a chance against their team. White Tiger claims that New York City is his own turf. The Falcon volunteers to serve under Valkyrie, primarily to avoid Nighthawk. Valkyrie agrees. She states hat she is unfamiliar with most of the Defenders' new members, so she chooses her team randomly. She picks 5 Defenders: the Falcon, Jack of Hearts, Prowler, Stingray, and Torpedo. Nighthawk is content to lead the rest of them. Five Defenders proclaim their allegiance to him: Marvel Man, Nova, Polaris, the Son of Satan, and Tagak.
Polaris notes that three Defenders stand aside and have not joined any of the three groups: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Paladin. The three of them actually want to quit. Captain Marvel says that he has seen enough to know that the Defenders are not the right team for him. Paladin explains that he is a mercenary who works for his pay. He is not motivated by idealistic altruism, like the others. Ms. Marvel claims that she was only here due to her curiosity and her previous experience with the Defenders. She informs them that she has since joined the Avengers. Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel fly away. Paladin leaves on foot, wishing "happy hunting" to the remaining Defenders.
Valkyrie and her team depart first. She rides her flying horse Aragorn. The Falcon, Jack of Hearts, Stingray, and Torpedo fly on their own. The Prowler can not fly, and has to be transported by Torpedo. Hercules' team can not fly and he hesitates to use the Academy's horses for transportation. Hellcat offers to transport them with the Hellcatmobile, her private vehicle. It only has a seat for Hellcat herself. Havok, Hercules, Iron Fist, and the White Tiger struggle to hold on to the speeding car. Black Goliath walks besides the car, while Captain Ultra is accidentally left behind.
Nighthawk and his group are the last heroes left in the Academy. Nighthawk asks what are they waiting for, and the Son of Satan answers that everyone is waiting for Nighthawk's order to depart. Nighthawk asks Hellstrom not to be sarcastic, and reminds everyone that he is still their leader. He flies away and commands the Defenders to follow him. Tagak reminds everyone that he can not fly. Nighthawk pays no attention to him, but Daimon Hellstrom decides that the others will have to transport Tagak. Polaris regrets being unable to join Valkyrie's group.
The scene shifts to Greenwich Village. Nighthawk, Nova, Marvel Man, Polaris, and the Son of Satan are flying, while Tagak is jointly transported by Marvel Man and Nova. The group asks the speeding Nighthawk to slow down, as they have trouble catching up to him. They suddenly hear someone claiming that a Defender stole his car. They interview the victim and he claims that the Defender in question was huge and powerful. The car in question is a speeding luxury car. Marvel Man, Nova, and the Son of Satan co-operate to lift the car in the air and return it to its owner. Nighthawk looks inside and discovers that the car thief is a punk kid. The kid is the owner's son, who was apparently inspired by the Defenders documentary to role play as a "hero".
After threatening his son with punishment, the owner examines his car and discovers a scuff in the paint. He accuses the Defenders of damaging his car and blames it on them interfering for no reason. Nighthawk, Nova, and Son of Satan loose their temper with the ungrateful man and threaten violence against him and his car. He quickly enters the car and drives away with his son. He threatens, however, to take them to court for their behavior. Nighthawk believes this was just an idle threat. Polaris wonders whether this is the average dose of danger that the Defenders face.
The scene shifts to the Soviet Union, where the Presence encounters a giant amoeba. Sergei recalls that he had caused the atomic accident which destroyed the nearby town of Kyshtym and apparently created this monster. He was at the time a young geneticist, but the Cold War positioned him to the forefront of nuclear history. He made phenomenal progress in the field, but late in 1957, he made a fatal mistake with radioactive waste disposal. The massive mistake was combined with Sergei's efforts at genetic engineering and created a dreadful new strain of amoeba.
The Presence is unaware that his activities are monitored by a military scout. The scout assumes that the Presence has returned to his power-mongering ways and speeds away to alert the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the Presence thinks about how he and his allies sought to contain the amoeba in the Siberian Forbidden Zone. He sees the creature still around and decides to stop it, in an attempt to insure the safety of the Soviet people. He unleashes a force blast against the creature. The creature absorbs the blast and craves for more. The Presence finds himself grabbed by a giant tentacle. The creature swallows him within its body and starts absorbing his radioactive energy. Sergei realizes what has happened. The amoeba has developed the ability to assimilate atomic energy and actually feeds on it. In his new form, the Presence is a living incarnation of nuclear energy. So the creature will feed on his energy and grow stronger. The scene ends.
In New York City, Hercules' group of Defenders locate the villainous Defenders, who are in the process of stealing a large number of diamonds. The villains' leader is Sagittarius. Hellcat recognizes Sagittarius as a member of the Zodiac. The Defenders for a Day prepare to face the villains. Blob mocks Hercules for wearing a skirt. Hercules punches the insolent mortal and sends the Blob flying. The battle begins.
The White Tiger kicks Batroc in the torso, seemingly taking him out of the fight. Whirlwind is running rings around the Black Goliath. He mentions his previous experience in combat against the original Goliath, Hank Pym. The Black Goliath replies that he used to work for Hank Pym. He uses Pym's information about Whirlwind to defeat the villain. Hellcat easily evades Sagittarius' attacks and then lands on top of him.
Nearby, Iron Fist evades attacks by Electro, and then uses a sack full of diamonds to knock out Electro. Hellcat proceeds to face the Looter, while White Tiger faces the Beetle. Hercules is surprised that his best punches seem to have no effect on the Blob. At this point the police arrives and breaks up the fight.
Heroes and villains are discovered holding various sacks of diamonds. The police can not tell the difference between them, and demand explanations. Hercules introduces himself as the leader of the real Defenders. He explains that the villains are thieves and that his own team intended to return the gemstones to their owners. Sagittarius instead claims that he and his group were the real heroes, and that Hercules is leading a group of villainous impostors. Hercules protests at having his honest word questioned. The police does not believe any of them and announce their intention to arrest both groups. The story ends.
- Cover art: preliminary art by Cockrum.
- The story supposedly starts where the last issue left off. However, the two scenes do not really match.
- In the last scene of the previous issue, the Hulk was attacked by 7 members of the Defenders for a Day: Black Goliath, Havok, Iron Fist, Polaris, Stingray, Tagak, and Torpedo.
- In the opening scene of this issue, the Hulk fights 5 members of the Defenders for a Day: Black Goliath, Havok, Prowler, Stingray, and Torpedo.
- Iron Fist, Polaris, and Tagak seem to have disappeared between issues. Prowler has appeared out of nowhere.
- Nighthawk spend most of the previous issue angrily chasing after the Falcon, because the Falcon had dared to scold him about his mistreatment of others.
- The scene involving Iron Fist riding a horse seems to be a strange reference to a subplot of the previous issue. In the previous issue Marvel Man, Nova, the Prowler, and the White Tiger took control of four horses from the Richmond Riding Academy and practiced horseback riding. Falcon and Nighthawk's aerial maneuvers spooked their horses, and the four mounted Defenders started angrily chasing the fliers. In this issue, only Iron Fist is seen riding a spooked horse and talking to the Falcon and Nighthawk.
- At this point Hellcat was a former member of the Avengers. Apparently her correspondence kept arriving at the Avengers Mansion, even following her departure from the ranks.
- Iron Man appears for four panels only, informing the real Defenders of the existence of a villainous group of Defenders. He is not actually seen departing, the other characters simply seem to forget about him.
- Captain Marvel spend the previous issue as a popular member of the Defenders for a Day. He was nominated for their leadership and received several votes. He declined the leadership role and was instrumental in the election of Hercules to the position. In this issue, he resigns from the team with barely an explanation.
- Ms. Marvel cites her previous experience with the Defenders. She was briefly a member or ally of the team in Defenders Vol 1 57 (March, 1978). Due to the team having no formal membership, the difference between an actual member and an ally was often unclear.
- Ms. Marvel claims that she has recently joined the Avengers. This is partly correct. She joined an extended roster of the Avengers during the Korvac Saga, and served with the others in Avengers Vol 1 171 (May, 1978), Avengers Vol 1 172 (June, 1978), Avengers Vol 1 175 (September, 1978), Avengers Vol 1 176 (October, 1978), and Avengers Vol 1 177 (November, 1978). She was killed and resurrected, along with most of the other Avengers, in issue #177. She would not receive official Avengers membership until Avengers Vol 1 183 (May, 1979).
- Paladin claims that he is a mercenary and not an altruistic hero. This does not explain why he wanted to join the team in the first place.
- The Presence claims that he is responsible for the disaster which destroyed the town of Kyshtym. This is based on the Kyshtym disaster, an accidental nuclear explosion in Earth-1218. It took place on September 29, 1957.
- The subplot involving the Presence and the giant amoeba continues in Defenders Vol 1 65 (November, 1978).
- Whirlwind has spend much of his career facing Hank Pym. So it is reasonable to depict Pym as familiar with the Whirlwind's weaknesses.
- The initial attack of Hercules on the Blob seems to work well, while his subsequent attacks on the same villain are ineffectual. The apparent inconsistency may be based on the way the Blob's powers work. Blob is supposed to be immovable when his gravity field is activated. This is based on his own force of will. He might not have expected Hercules' initial attack, but he was probably prepared for all the subsequent ones.
- Among the villainous Defenders, only Batroc, the Blob, Electro, Sagittarius, and Whirlwind have speaking parts. The Beetle, the Looter, the Plantman, and Porcupine remain silent.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which covers. character appearances has the following information about the characters of this issue:
- Batroc previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 52 (December, 1976).
- The Beetle previously appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol 1 16 (March, 1978).
- Blob previously appeared in Champions Vol 1 17 (January, 1978).
- Captain Marvel next appears in Marvel Two-In-One Vol 1 45 (November, 1978).
- Electro previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 56 (April, 1977).
- The Hulk next appears in Defenders Vol 1 67 (January, 1979).
- Iron Man previously appeared in Avengers Annual Vol 1 8 (1978). He next appears in Fantastic Four Vol 1 202 (January, 1979).
- The Looter previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 34 (June, 1975).
- Ms. Marvel next appears in Avengers Vol 1 181 (March, 1979).
- Paladin next appears in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 108 (August, 1981).
- The Plantman previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 71 (July, 1978).
- Porcupine previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 71 (July, 1978).
- The Presence next appears in Defenders Vol 1 65 (November, 1978).
- Sagittarius previously appeared in Defenders Vol 1 50 (August, 1977).
- Whirlwind previously appeared in Avengers Vol 1 164 (October, 1977).
- Due to an error, the issue contains no credit for its editor. The regular editor of the series at the time of its publication was Bob Hall.
- There seems to be a coloring mistake in the second panel of page 6. During a gathering of the Defenders, a female character is seen standing next to Nighthawk. She has the Cat Suit's ears, but has long blond hair and wears a black uniform. This seems to be a miscolored Hellcat, who is typically red-haired and wears a yellow uniform. The only other female Defenders at the time were Valkyrie (who is seen standing next to Hercules), Ms. Marvel (who is seen standing next to Nova), and Polaris (who is missing from the panel, but wears a much different costume).