Defenders 1973

Defenders 1973 covers issues #4-11 
Author: Steve Englehart (with some scripting by Len Wein) 
Artist: Sal Buscema 
Overview: Valkyrie joins the heavy hitting non-team of Dr. Strange, Namor and the Hulk after they take on the Enchantress. As usual, unlikely circumstances keep bringing these "heroes" together as they defend New York City from an invasion by Atlantis, fight another wacky wizard and compete with the Avengers for the pieces of the Evil Eye in the Avengers-Defenders War. 
The Avengers-Defenders War 
The addition of Silver Surfer and Hawkeye to the team 
The attack of Cyrus Black's dream monsters. 
Major First Appearances: 
Valkyrie II 
It was another solid run for Englehart, who rises above the implausibility of the book's central concept of a non-team that keeps coming together despite having no desire or motivation to do so. The last half of the year is split in an epic story with the Avengers thats a fun read, and because both parts are scripted by Englehart read like a single book. It's kind of funny to see the Avengers get so completely owned. Even issue 6, which deals with Cyrus Black's revenge on Strange has some entertaining moments.  The compressed style of story-telling does not always lend itself to deep characterizations but thats more a product of the times than an issue with Englehart who is certainly capable.
Sal Buscema is awesome on the Defenders. His action is kinetic and exciting, though compared to his later work in the likes of Spectacular Spider-man its a little safe. But these were the days where Marvel had a pretty clear house style. 
Favorite Issue:  
Issue #7 

"War Below the Waves"    

Hulk stands out as a great source of humor in this issue where Hawkeye makes the ill-considered decision to take him on alone. Then, if only to drive his moronic hubris home, Hawkeye tries to fight Namor and Valkyrie. But the real gem of a moment in this issue comes about 2/3's of the way in when Hulk, realizing that he had fought on a boat before and did not care for it, just up and leaves! Also, this story includes Red Ghost, though without his cosmic powered apes, so, like, what's the point? 
The Avengers-Defenders war was definitely the high point when it came to story arcs this year. But it seemed like Avengers got all the good issues. Even the potential Thor-Hulk slugfest only occurs after everyone else has figured out what's going on and gets cut short before they can really tear it up. 
Next: Captain America 1973!
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