Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Defenders 22: Sons of the Serpent
Writer: Steve Gerber Art: Sal Buscema & Mike Esposito
The Valkyrie---as Barbara Norriss---walks lost in thought about her recently discovered human identity, through the filthy lower Manhattan streets. Her reverie ends when she finds two men in a knife fight, which she disrupts. When they remain violent, she draws Dragonfang, hung invisibly at her side, triggering the appearance of her costume through a spell. Her speech to the fleeing men is interrupted by a scream, leading Valkyrie to charge into a tenement to investigate.
There, a poor woman named Elena desperately tries to remove a huge rat from her baby's crib, which Val does with ease, swiftly. However, Elena's plight and bitterness trouble her, and compassionately, she takes the woman and child to Dr. Strange's Sanctorum.
The upper East Side of Manhattan finds Kyle Richmond, a.k.a. Nighthawk, brooding at a fashionable party, still upset over his missing and badly injured former love Trish Starr, to the consternation of well-meaning Ginny. They are interrupted by sleazy developer Harold Holliman, whose offers are rejected upfront by the disinterested Richmond. "Take it up with Pennyworth," he says, referring to his trustee. He kisses Ginny goodbye cordially and takes a taxi to Strange's Sanctorum in the Village, where he soon arrives upon Wong serving Ms. Elena tea, and Clea playing with her baby in the presence of a placid Hulk. Valkyrie and Stephen discuss exploring Elena's plight and legal recourse in the morning, while a mysterious figure stares into the window. Richmond's arrival frightens him away. Val then begins to fill Kyle in on her slum experience.
Flash to the aforementioned slum, where the Sons of the Serpent firebomb the same tenement, at the cost of an elderly blind man's life inside.
The assembled Defenders arrive too late. Harold Holliman turns out to be the slumlord of the burning building; his accusation to the black tenants, of arson, starts a riot, nearly at the expense of his own life!
Strange and Nighthawk intervene, at the moment the Serpents return to finish their terrorism. Their racially tinged screed upsets the Hulk, who is not white, but green, therefore prompting him to smash the street and hurtle the terrorists off their feet. All the Defenders join the fray, save for Strange, attempting in vain to be the voice of reason. Animating a hose with a spell, he breaks up the fight. The Serpents flee, promising retribution.