Friday, February 18, 2011
Defenders 24 In the Jaws of the Serpent
Defeated! Lower Manhattan, fire bombed, and its Defenders, fallen!
Doctor Strange, The Master of the Mystic Arts---unconscious! The high-flying Nighthawk---brought low and wingless! The vibrant Valkyrie---yet to revive!
Suspended, enthralled by four double headed, coiling steel-cast serpents, even the Yellowjacket stings no more. All of these Defenders are captives hidden away in a location completely unknown, surrounded by enemies. The greatest of their powers avails them nothing, and remains undisplayed, for they have been rendered unconscious at the human level (as was the Hulk, too fearsome to take captive even while unconscious...and so, left to change to Bruce Banner, unseen by his foes).
So do we learn of the unfeeling, hateful plan of racial nightmares planned by the masked Sons of the Serpent, now infecting American media with their divisive, racially coded rhetoric. "As Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden," their violence in the ghettos will displace the less fortunate into the suburbs, where, in fear of the refugees and looting, the white gun owners will inflict race war upon the displaced.
Just for being born a different SKIN color? Can you believe it was ever normal in America to even think like that? But it was, and it hasn't been so long ago at the moment in time Valkyrie and Nighthawk respond. (Blast! If only Doc weren't still unconscious from that ray-burst! We'd be out of our bonds in two seconds! thinks Nighthawk.) Who would cause such anguish, who would use such resources, for such a vile end? Yellowjacket replies to the incredible pettiness, but Nighthawk is right, they are beyond reason.
They're departing to do these heinous things to their fellow human beings, but they're hooting about winning the war too much in the earshot of Valkyrie. Despite her confiscated sword, the metal coils will not stop her from taking issue with these men in a most physically uncomfortable manner.
"No woman could've done that!" they think, not unlike many people at the time of this story in the world outside of this twenty five cent diversion. But as women did, Valkyrie begins making believers of them...until she discovers one is a woman! She who hesitates is lost to a second ray blast. Interestingly, the woman asserts: "aren't you glad Serpent rules were amended to include women?" So equal opportunity ironically balances the scale, and now Valkyrie, unconscious, is the first chosen to die.
Fuzzy, Doctor Bruce Banner haggardly recounts the attack that felled himself as the Hulk and his captured fellow Defenders before Clea, the enchanted apprentice of Strange, his loyal man-servant Wong and Jack Norriss, the husband of the body(his wife Barbara) possessing the mind and spirit of the Valkyrie. Not only does he not believe Banner is the Hulk, logic refuses him peace as he hears his newly-rediscovered, amnesiac wife is a hostage. That grave danger moves Bruce to ask her aid in summoning, for the first time, more Defenders from their previous allies. Her love and courage outstrips her uncertainty, and so Clea calls from its dark cask the Crystal of Agamotto.
By thought projection she reaches out with no previous knowledge of finding this help. To the Son of Satan, Daimon Hellstrom, and Daredevil, Matt Murdock, she sends her terse visionary S.O.S.: "Defenders in peril of their lives...come at once...New York...Sanctum of Dr. Strange..."
Hellstorm is certain of her sincerity; his intuition guides him to choose to help, and so, his demon steeds arisen from beneath Fire Lake in Massachuesetts, trident in hand, he takes the night sky.
Searching for clues in the blocks-wide devastation, Daredevil's search for the serpents leads to his first encounter with seeing a thought projection, something he always wondered if a blind man could also do. No one there, a voice twelve stories above the ground---how is a man dependent upon his heightened senses to believe this in any way? With no other way to detect from a heartbeat if she is truthful, his instinct leans him towards trusting her. He realizes his affiliation with the Defenders, themselves unknown to the world at large, is unlikely knowledge for a trap, so he answers the plea.
Continued in Next Post!