skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
[personal profile] skjam posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Last issue, we learned that Jack Norriss' mind is in Chondu's brain, which is in Kyle Richmond's body. Chondu's mind is in Bambi's brain and body. Kyle Richmond's mind is in his own brain, which is in a shallow dish. The other Defender's minds are in their own brains and bodies, but may not be right any more. The Headmen's HQ is in ruins, and Nebulon is back in town.

Which brings us up to The Defenders #34, five pages of seventeen (nrrgh) and dessert.

The title in the cut text is a Firesign Theater reference, also referenced by the official publication of Minicon, "The Bozo Bus Tribune." Some of our youngest readers may not be familiar with Bozo the Clown. Wiki it when you're done here.

Nebulon is understanding of "Nighthawk" being wary of him. After all, the last time they met, Nebulon was trying to buy the Earth and melt the ice caps. Jack gently suggests Nebulon use his indoor voice. Nebulon apologizes, and goes on to explain that his apparent disintegration last time was actually him being hurled into another dimension. The local inhabitants turned out to be an advanced race of philosophers known as the Ludberdites. Nebulon grew to admire their belief that it is the duty of superior beings to improve the lot of their inferiors.

And Nebulon couldn't think of any place more inferior than Earth. Therefore, he and the Lubderdites have been gathering a random sample of Earthlings and probing their minds for a common concept of peace, which Nebulon will then provide to humanity. Jack, who has no idea who Nebulon is, agrees to go along with the plan for now, and is teleported to where the other Earthlings are being held.

George collapses, he now has two mortgages on a junk pile.

At the Sanctum, Wong is supervising workmen repairing the hole where the fawn got out. He reports that Nighthawk never arrived.

A meteor crashes into Times Square, and a small, bald bespectabled man strolls out of the crater. He claims that he does this with his mind, and so can the people around him. Hulk is leaping nearby when he is suddenly filled with inexplicable rage. There's something wrong about that puny human, and somehow he is responsible for the kidnapping of Bambi. How the Hulk knows this is a mystery, but he moves in for the attack anyway.

Nebulon (for the little man is he) assumes his default form and easily fends off the Hulk, hurling him into space. He then resumes his unprepossessing appearance.

By the time Hulk crashes back to Manhattan, the crowd is gone, leaving only a flyer for Hulk to take back to Strange.

At the holding pen, the humans begin collapsing as the machine in their midst activates. Jack has discovered that Nighthawk's jet pack is out of commission, so can't fly away in time.

The rest of the Defenders arrive at the Park Plaza hotel for a Celestial Mind Control lecture. They're wearing illusionary disguises. Doc mentions that it's human nature to fall for scams that promise big results for a tiny cost...with the real price extracted later. Valkyrie's sword is detected, but the illusion holds, and her Asgardian Wrist Grip discourages the guards from strip-searching her.

The heroes are able to get seats right down front. The bald little man appears on stage and briefly promises great things, before seguing into his real theme "You're all bozos!" He harangues the audience for a bit, then tells them to put on the "true faces" their find under their seats. Bozo masks.

Doctor Strange takes off his mask and demands an explanation. Nebulon drops his own disguise and insists that this is for the Earthling's own good. "Curse your inability to remember names, Hulk!"

Nebulon briefly goes back to the bald guy look to ask the bozos in the audience to stay and behold the effectiveness of Celestial Mind Control. And he babbles on about it while fighting the Defenders.

I should mention that Celestial Mind Control is, other than the whole actual space aliens behind it, pretty close to the actual self-help philosophies/cults of the mid-1970s, a trend that Steve Gerber mocked repeatedly in his comics work.

And now, a word from our sponsor.

And to think those two got married later!

Next time:. Chondu gets a makeover!

Your thoughts and comments?

Date: 2012-11-26 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tpsreports
I loved this run so much as a kid, just seeing it again is making me giddy.

Date: 2012-11-26 06:58 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
So many brilliant bits here. I love the fact that Nebulon is completely sincere about his desire to "save" Earth...while at the same time, his utter contempt for humanity causes him to do it in the most fascist, soul-crushing way possible. He's Darkseid as a late-nite infomercial pitchman, convincing people to volunteer for the Anti-Life Equation. Compare this to the more pragmatic, selfish motivations of the Headmen: Society has rejected us? Fine, we'll just restructure society into something that suits us better. And the Defenders are all like "Grr, supervillains are bad!" without really understanding what they're up against. Gerber was the greatest.

Date: 2012-11-28 04:11 am (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Have you read Stewart the Rat? There's a cult leader in that, too, but I thought that the Bozo movement was much funnier and less ax-grindy.

Date: 2012-11-28 01:57 pm (UTC)
jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
From: [personal profile] jkcarrier
Agreed. There are parts of Stewart that I like a lot -- the opening sequence with the scientist's suicide note is amazing -- but the "villains" are very much straw men for Gerber to rage against. Nebulon and the Headmen are not exactly sympathetic, but they at least have some dimension to them.

There was a discussion on another forum recently where someone suggested that Gerber was actually better when he was under stricter editorial supervision, because it forced him to be more subtle. I don't know if I agree with that completely, but there's something to be said for flying under the radar. It's one reason why I think Sal Buscema's art on these Defenders stories is so perfect: Sal is the epitome of traditional, conventional superhero artwork, and it allows the utter weirdness of Gerber's stories to sneak up on you.

Date: 2012-11-29 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
That Hostess ad gains a little dimension when you realize that, per Gerry Conway, MJ did know Petey was Spider-Man before they started dating.


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