With the new Defenders series hitting Netflix soon I think it’s best to revisit the origins of the group.
The Defenders in Netflix’s show may be more down-to-Earth then their Avenger counterparts. But in the comics The Defenders began with some pretty out of this world members. It originally began with the Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange and the Hulk. This first issue was released in December 1971.
Dr.Strange discovers that a machine of terrible power has been created meant to destroy the world (go figure…). So he enables the help of the Sub-Mariner and Hulk in order to infiltrate the bad guys base and disable the machine.
The machine is technically not disabled, but through some manipulation of time is made mostly harmless.
This book is one of the better stories I have read from an older time period. The inclusion of Strange and the Sub-Mariner also gives a little more to the plot. I also like the art in this issue as well. Hulk of course does not play nice with others and takes some convincing, but ultimately becomes a founding member of The Defenders.
Hulk was also a founding member of The Avengers, but did leave in issue #2. In keeping with that, Hulk pretty much abandons the Defenders the second it’s named. He does become a significant returning member in later issues though.
This issue not only marks the beginning of the Defenders but also the Marvel Feature lineup which lasted 12 issues. It is from this lineup that the Defenders comics splintered off from.
This issue also includes a new Dr.Strange solo story. I believe it was meant to “reboot” or reintroduce him back into the public eye after a short hiatus.
As of this writing the issue is fairly popular. A decent copy goes for around $100-150 to as high as $400. I managed to snag mine for $50, though it is a bit beat up.
In my mind it’s worth it. To own a copy of Avengers #1 is easily in the thousands of dollars. At least with this issue of The Defenders, where Hulk is a founding member, the issue is affordable.