The past history of Don Stevens is mostly a mystery. He joined the United States Army at sometime prior to or shortly after the outbreak of World War II. He became the close mentor to a young camp mascot known only as Rusty. Through an unrecorded set of circumstances Stevens and Rusty took on the costumed identities of the Defender and Rusty. Early on in their career they befriended female government agent Sally Kean.
In August of 1941, Don, Rusty and Sally were taking the Staten Island Ferry when they witnessed a man being thrown overboard from another ship. Investigating, they learned that the ship captain was the notorious Nazi operative and human smuggler Dame Kackle. Unable to prove any wrong doing, Don and Rusty were forced to leave Kackle's ship. Later as the Defender, Don and Rusty discovered that Kackle was smuggling Japanese spies into the United States. Rescuing Sally from Kackle's minions, the Defender and Rusty smashed the operation even though Dame Kackle seemingly got away. By the winter of 1941, Don Stevens and Rusty became interested in a series of incidents involving gun smuggling between the United States and Mexico. Investigating as the Defender and Rusty, they exposed the operation as a Nazi plot organized by American weapons manufacturer J.P. Evans a traitor to his country. Early in 1942, the Defender and Rusty went into action to stop a circus strongman named Oldow, who transformed into a monstrous form at the light of a full moon. Oldow captured Rusty, however the Defender caught up to the killer and sent Oldow falling down a cliff to his death.
Don and Rusty were then deployed to Nicaragua until the spring of 1942. Returning to the United States on leave, they took some time for some R&R in the city of Middleton. However, this leave was cut short as they learned of a series of factory thefts perpetuated by a villain calling himself the Fog. The Defender and Rusty learned that the Fog used special fog coal extorted from a local coal owner. Taking the entire supply, the Defender forced the Fog and his men to attack them directly in order to obtain the needed material. In a one-on-one fight, the Defender exposed the Fog as local scientist Professor Rhinestone, before leaving the scientist to drown.
In 1943, the Defender was among a number of heroes who were slain by the Cosmic Cube-wielding Red Skull and impaled on a massive wall. However, the Cube was recovered by Private Paul Anselm who resurrected all the slain heroes, who then aided the combined efforts of the Invaders and the time displaced New Avengers and Mighty Avengers. When the Skull was defeated the heroes used the Cube to wipe out the Defender's memories of the event to preserve history.
The Defender has no recorded activities between the years 1943 and 1945 until the Battle of Berlin on the spring of 1945. The Defender (without Rusty's assistance) was one of the many heroes who banded together to liberate Berlin from Nazi control.
Post-World War II, the Defender (again without Rusty) targeted New York's crime families, which were struggling to reorganize after Lucky Luciano was deported in 1946. At one point, the Defender attacked a large meeting of bosses, and Alexander Bont shot the Defender in the back of the head point blank, killing him. This murder solidified Bont's reputation, allowing him to take over most of the city.
Powers and Abilities
The Defender was a skilled fighter having been trained as a U.S. Marine.
- 7 appearance(s) of Don Stevens (Earth-616)
- 1 minor appearance(s) of Don Stevens (Earth-616)
- 8 image(s) of Don Stevens (Earth-616)