Friday, January 22, 2010

Neal Adams Classic Defenders Cover: Original and Re-Colored

In 1972, the Defenders appeared in Marvel Feature #1, with this dynamic cover by Neal Adams.

Neal Adams Marvel Feature 1 1972 cover, featuring the first appearance of the Defenders

It’s a great cover.  Each hero has a dynamic pose.  And you are not sure if these guys are here to save the world or destroy it!

In a recent Doctor Strange Barry Smith article, I came across a Marvel Milestones reprint that also had this version of Neal Adams’ cover, sans logo and with new coloring.

Neal Adams Marvel Feature 1 1971 cover re-colored

The colorist went for more muted tones here, rather than the bright colors on the original.  Doc’s left hand is obscured by the glow of the spell he is casting.  This cover was probably used on an Essentials reprint.  It’s an interesting experiment—but I can’t help think the original version is still superior.

The Defenders are one of my favorite super-hero teams of all time.  I can’t understand why modern Marvel can’t get the formula of Doc Strange + Hulk (smash) + Sub-Mariner to work.  Nuff Said!

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


I agree that the color on the original was better, but that's almost certainly our Bronze Age bias at play. Color palates were much more limited back then. There's a sample palate from the period in the DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering, and it's completely made up of different 25 percent combinations of CMYK. Certainly more limited, but, damn, if it doesn't look more like comics to me!
This is one of my favorite Marvel covers by my all time favorite comic book artist as well as my favorite Marvel superhero team! Thanks for posting this! Hopefully soon we'll see some of Neal's Avengers stuff!
I agree, I am very biased towards the old material. Yet strangely proud of it! Thanks for all your comments and tweets, Andrew!
I do believe there are ways to make the classic lineup of the Defenders work. I think Busiek tried to recreate the zaniness of the Gerber era in the 90s Defenders series, and failed. Of course, Erik Larsen's artwork didn't help matters. I think a straightforward approach would be better.
I agree about the covers. I think the artist went a bit too dark.
By the way, I'm a first time poster on this blog. Just discovered it yesterday, and I love it! I saw some panel art from G.S. Defenders #2 with art by the late great Gil Kane and Klaus Janson. I dont buy back issues these days, but I'm going to make an exception and track down that issues.
Keep up the good work.
Thank you for the kind words!
With the Hobbit movies somewhat on hold, Marvel is gunning for Guillermo del Toro to direct and Neil Gaiman to write Dr. Strange [link removed]
Can a Doctor Strange-centric "Defenders" movie that fits into what Marvel is now calling the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” finally be in the works?...
SHIELD pulls together a paranormal special ops team after the Military/SHIELD/NASA made contact with a "Beyonder" (or Celestial, some sort of "magical" trans-dimensional entity, perhaps an Asgardian?) SHIELD realizes it doesn't have the capabilities to ascertain if this “thing” is a threat or not. Thus sets the premise for the Defenders movie, where the use of occult, fringe science, brains, and brawn are employed to defeat a multi-dimensional and or “secret invasion” cosmic threat to save the day in such a way that Avengers cannot.
The team that SHIELD assembles to defend us from such an invader will be a group of eccentric scientist/academia types culled to form the "Defenders", the oddball counterpoint to the distinguished Avengers team. Project "Defenders" will be the “Twilight Zone” of the new Marvel movie franchises; they want it to be less of an action movie and have more of a creepy thriller type of vibe to it. The Defender operatives will consist of group leader - the brilliant Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange former renowned neurosurgeon turned occultist scholar and “metaphysicist” (character to be loosely based around Aleister Crowley/Terence McKenna eccentric by way of Robert Langdon), Namor McKenzie (Sub-Mariner, the superhuman Jacques-Yves Cousteau by way of Rudolf Steiner, believes he’s the literal Prince of Atlantis) , Dr. Robert Bruce Banner (Hulk, brilliant “omnidisciplinary” scientist, the world’s greatest expert on gamma radiation… need we say more?), Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym (Ant-Man, MIT professor renowned quantum physicist), and his partner Janet Van Dyne(Wasp, one-time student to Pym now associate, extremely bright but introverted Lady Gaga “individualist” type). Themes incorporated into Defenders movie include motifs from the bestselling magical/occult/secret society Dan Brown books, along with themes from the more recent Marvel series involving Secret [link removed] storylines (specifically the newer S.H.I.E.L.D. 2010 comic series). They'll be looking for lean lesser-known actors to play non-super hero type characters, and there are ruminations that Strange may be pushed forward to play a crucial role as catalyst to merge the magical other-dimensional realms like Asgard into the more "realistic" Iron Man universe.
Questions remain about the timeline and release of the Doctor Strange character into the big screen. Will we see Doctor Strange in a smallish part for the upcoming Avengers movie helping to usher in the “magical” component onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or will Strange remain left out of the Avengers universe altogether for now, and another plot device or character be used to infuse the “magical elements” instead of him?... They are determined to bring on Dr. Strange movie post Ant-Man, the question remains will Strange remain side-lined for now? Some at Marvel are extremely hush-hush as plot points, characters as well as want-lists that are still being hashed-out for upcoming films, others think it’s good to gauge public opinion about what properties the public truly cares for and how they can be incorporated to the larger Marvel Movie-verse whilst staying true to the premise of the characters. Some of us like me see the potential and are really pushing for a Doctor Strange-centric Defenders movie but more importantly having Strange play a pivotal if not smallish role in the upcoming Avengers movie.

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