Friday, April 21, 2017

Revenge Part II (Marvel)
Secret Defenders #10 When: December 1993
Why: Ron Marz How: Tom Grindberg

The Story So Far...
On the Mars moon of Phobos a titanic struggle is waged for the fate of the galaxy! The mad space-pirate Nebula has broken free from her prison on Titan, and plans to return to Saturn's moon to destroy it -- and all of its inhabitants!

In a desperate bid to stop Nebula's plot; the Silver Surfer has sought aide from his old ally -- Earth's Sorcerer Supreme: Doctor Strange!

Unable to accompany the Surfer into space; Strange recruits two powerful Secret Defenders to assist him in his dire mission: the armored Avenger War Machine and hammer wielding Thunderstrike!

Together the trio of heroes confront the overwhelming odds of Nebula's crew, but in the ambush Silver Surfer is captured and strapped to her moon-destroying bomb! With seconds to liftoff War Machine disables the warhead and frees the Silver Surfer. Now it's one on one in a race to bring Nebula to justice!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Silver Surfer 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Silver Surfer 5 (Professor)
Speed: Silver Surfer 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Silver Surfer 6 (Generator)
Agility: Silver Surfer 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Nebula 4 (Trained)
Energy: Silver Surfer 7 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Silver Surfer 37 (Cosmic)

A cosmic grudge match with the fate of Saturn's moon Titan hanging in the balance!

Silver Surfer is a space-faring defender whose power cosmic was bestowed upon him by the world devourer: Galactus! The Surfer was coated in cosmic chrome when he agreed to give up a life as stargazing scholar Norrin Radd -- pledging servitude in exchange for his planet Zenn-La!

Silver Surfer became an unfeeling sentinel of doom, ever in search of planetary feast. When he arrived on Earth, his cold heart was stirred to feel compassion once more. Thus; the herald turned his power against its source: rescuing another world from destruction -- only to be exiled to its galactic boundaries!

Generally speaking, Silver Surfer is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe! We've seen him take down Ronan the Accuser [Silver Surfer #13], go toe-to-toe with Beta Ray Bill [Godhunter #2], and defeat DC Comics' Green Lantern [Marvel versus DC #3]! He was even gladiatorial champion on the planet Sakaar -- until his old Defenders ally Hulk showed up to take the title in that famous arena battle! A shoo-in to beat most foes, right?... Not so fast!

Nebula is a notorious inter-galactic space pirate, but more than that, she's the purported grand-daughter of The Mad Titan: Thanos!

Such a bloodline means incredible strength, durability, and energy powers -- but also a life of torturous cruelty and callous hate! Nebula has suffered considerably at the hands of her own father, and grand-father, alike!

When Thanos assembled omnipotence through The Infinity Gauntlet, he used it to remake Nebula as a twisted, charred, tribute to Death. A fate she escaped, only to be imprisoned on Titan by her uncle, Starfox. She later transformed herself, undergoing procedures to become the iconic bald cyborg she is today!

Nebula's early exploits included battles with The Avengers, The Skrull Empire, and another of Galactus' heralds: Firelord. She was responsible for massacring much of his race -- a typical consequence of her heinous inter-galactic crimes.

This is the first time Nebula is appearing on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths, but you get the idea of the high-level threat she presents! Remembering that Silver Surfer once submitted his power to a space-faring Doombot [Silver Surfer #107], and was stripped of his powers by Super-Skrull while held in techno-bondage in Fantastic Four #6 -- and there's plenty of reason to be concerned!

When we join the fight, Silver Surfer has already spent time shackled by Nebula and her crew. Her plan is to annihilate him and the moon Titan -- a fate she already believes is sealed. Let's skip the speculation and see what happened!

The Tape: Silver Surfer Ranking: Silver Surfer (#40)

What Went Down...
With no time to spare -- Earth hero War Machine frees Silver Surfer from his shackles and disarms the bomb they hold him to! Titan and its inhabitants are saved, but vengeful Nebula still poses a formidable threat!

The cyborg villainess flares with anger as her explosion fails to come to pass. Even as she ponders the expected destruction of Titan and the Silver Surfer - the gleaming cosmic guardian appears outside her ship!

Nebula grabs her gun and charges furiously from the cockpit. Running through the corridors only brings her faster to the presence of the Silver Surfer! With phenomenal speed he's there - waiting!

Instinctively - Nebula fires! The weapon discharges in a deadly point-blank blast aimed directly at the Surfer's heart!

The hi-tech weapon's flare lights up his polished silver body as it arches violently, absorbing the gun's devastating load! His shoulders rise and his head sinks in a sudden, contorted hunch -- but the Silver Surfer does not fall!

Instead, Nebula's fury is matched in kind by a hero who is sick of witnessing her heinous crimes. With grit teeth the Surfer vows to end the spree of violence, death, murder. In a very uncharacteristic moment - he raises his fist!

The punch is enough to make good on the Surfer's pledge. Nebula is subdued and cuffed, ready to be returned to a Titanian prison for her murderous crimes.

The Hammer...
Short, sharp, but not so sweet. Silver Surfer isn't exactly known for his heavyweight boxing, but when rare circumstances call for it -- he packs a punch with the best of them!

It may be an atypical fight, but in context it makes sense: It took two issues of being beaten, shackled, and threatened to push Silver Surfer to lose his usual cool!

A few years of unpleasant history with Nebula had a bit to do with it, too... Heck! If you want to talk history -- threats against global civilizations are always a bit of a sensitive subject with The Surfer! Reluctantly ushering planets to their total annihilation will tend to have that affect on a dude, but hey! That's a downer and baggage we can work through some other day!

This month's cosmic themed feature fights are in anticipation of the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2. Karen Gillan returns as Nebula in the May 5th sequel, which also introduces Kurt Russell as recently featured Hero of the Week (and occasional Silver Surfer villain): Ego.

In preparing for Nebula's debut on the site, I was struck with how iconic her bald head and metal plate have become. Obviously that's the design featured in the movies, but it made a strong impression long before then.

This iteration of Nebula had been around for about a year by the time of today's featured fight. Prior to that she'd been established as a credible threat to the Avengers wearing long jet black hair and bangs. Admittedly, she didn't make a huge impression on me as a young Marvel reader, but today's feature was very nearly a couple of issues from 1990 that were always favourites.

In '91, Nebula played a significant role in The Infinity Gauntlet: a now-classic Jim Starlin story as famous as anything for its influence on Marvel's present trajectory towards a Thanos fronted Avengers film. Nebula didn't go cyborg until the following year, becoming a regular in the pages of Silver Surfer.

Over in Hero of the Week we've been talking a lot about the trials of introducing new characters, and adapting old ones, and I think what we have here is a very intuitive example of a Marvel character receptive to change.

Nebula was a decent enough established villainess with ties to Thanos, but she'd never really stood out as an icon. Visually she was a stock standard comic book villain with maybe a hint of Star Trek. A strong candidate for a rethink.

Metal plating and cybernetics were dime a dozen clich├ęs in the early nineties, but for Nebula it wasn't just a design short-cut. It was a makeover to usher in a new chapter in a character's unfolding story. Signs of the old were still there: she kept the purple and blue of her classic uniform. Yet it was given a rougher edge that better evoked the life of a space-faring pirate bad ass.

The new look seemed to infuse a harder edge to the character's attitude as it was written, as well. Secret Defenders #10 isn't a particularly deep story, but it revels in Nebula the terrorist. A character with an unrepentant mean streak and the will to cause real damage, if given the chance. Thanos' cold nihilism repackaged with a punkish Gen X twist.

When I think of Nebula - this is the version I picture!

Not exactly the boldest statement if you've only known the character since seeing her in movies. Never the less, an endorsement that I hope attests to the success of what has become a definitive vision for an unlikely icon. When I choose artwork to reflect characters, I don't necessarily place currency on the present as much as what I think identifies the character best. When it came time to find an image for Nebula - I knew I wanted her bald.

As a matter of record: I settled on one of the better Greg & Tim Hildebrandt trading card paintings from Marvel Masterpieces '94. It was a lesser year for the card series in my humble opinion, overshadowed by the inaugural set, and moments of brilliance in 93's Series 2. If you scroll back up to The Tale of The Tape section, you might notice a snarling Rose McGowan vibe in the isolated mugshot. Softer than I thought of Nebula, at that time, but still one of the brothers' better efforts, I think.

Appropriately enough, Secret Defenders is itself another example of an intuitive update. Marvel's "non-team" started as Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer and Hulk, but expanded its loose line-up throughout the seventies and eighties, adding: Nighthawk, Beast, Ice Man, Moondragon and many more.

The Defenders developed a few distinct flavours over the years. As one of the first new recruits, I guess Valkyrie was the Yoko of the original foursome, who maintained loose affiliation with her and the subsequent Nighthawk era. The "New" era of the eighties was more stable, but also short lived.

Secret Defenders brought the concept of a non-team back after a decade out of print, and arguably took it to its most logical conclusion. Doctor Strange was the constant, devising bizarre team-ups to address threats of varied credibility. At a time when brand identity was still very strong at Marvel, these oddball team-ups were novelty enough to grab attention on the racks!

The two-part story that concludes with Secret Defenders #10 stars War Machine and Thunderstrike: heroes who were understandably mistaken for Iron Man and Thor upon introduction to Silver Surfer. We'll talk more about them if and when we get a chance to revisit some of the other combat featured in these issues.

As always, be encouraged to seek out more of your favourite characters and their fantastic exploits by following links littered throughout this post. If you want a more direct method, you can dive into the Secret Archive, where hundreds of featured fights are organized by publisher, series, and issue.

If you'd like to get daily links to battles inspired by the topics of the day: follow Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Facebook and Twitter! Sharing and liking is a nice way you can help support our humble online arena.

Winner: Silver Surfer
#33 (+7) Silver Surfer
#837 (new) Nebula

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