The Next appearance of the Guardians came in July 1975’s Giant-Size Defenders # 5, which went on sale in Aril 1975. It shared the racks with Action Comics # 449, Amazing Spider-Man # 146, Avengers # 137, Joker # 2, OMAC # 6 and the start of a new era Giant Size X-Men#1.
The story titled ‘Eelar moves in mysterious ways’ is scripted by Steve Gerber, but had plot contributions by Gerry Conway, Roger Slifer, Len Wein, Scott Edelman & Chris Claremont. The art was by Don Heck’s pencilled & Mike Esposito inks with additional background inks by Dave Hunt.
The Defenders was a monthly title in the 70’s which offered a more casual and less establishment superhero team in the marvel universe. Originally formed by Doctor Strange, the term consisted of Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor and the Hulk. This non-team however almost never had any team consistency and members dropped in and out as they felt like. By Giant-size the team was Doctor Strange, Hulk, Nighthawk and Valkyrie. The group operated out of Greenwich Village in New York and it’s there our story begins.
The Story opens with a mugging of a shop owner by three criminals. The robbery is interrupted by the arrival of Charlie-27 the huge Jovian member of the Guardians who makes short work of the would-be thieves and carries their victim to a local hospital, dismayed that human beings attack one another, a shock to a man who has seen humans and human related species become more and more endangered in his time.
As this is happening Doctor Strange, Valkyrie and Hulk are flying overhead to investigate temporal displacement vibrations. They are just looking at strange lights in the river when a ferry is attacked by hundreds of fish. As Val and the Hulk try to deal with the fish, Doctor Strange is attacked from beneath the water’s surface. By an eel-like creature who speaks telepathically and speaks of a destiny of empire and his race conquering the stars. After leaving Strange to his team the creature dubbed Eelar jumps and announces his intent to attack the nearest city, in this case New York. Meanwhile upstate another member of the Defenders, Nighthawk, is taking a morose flight to clear his head, recapping his recent woes as a large aircraft streaks through the atmosphere and crashes nearby. This is also witnessed by inhabitants from the town of Saugerties including a little boy who is quite excited by the events transpiring before him.
Back in New York City, another attack is on the way on the hudson tunnel in which two cardboard cut out cops find themselves in the hudson tunnel during a fish attack, let me repeat this part of the show…A FISH ATTACK! One of the cops is petrified and the other runs to get help and it is at that point the Defenders arrive. Hulk and Val prevent the fish from getting in by plugging a small hole already made by the fish. The scene then changes to the little boy who tries to tell his parents about the spaceship, but is sent to his room as punishment for lying, quality parenting from the dad there. Stuck in his room, which doubles as a shrine to Captain America, the boy decides to sneak out and prove to his dad that the ship was real. Before he can do that, Nighthawk finds the ship which has the words Captain America emblazoned on the side. As he lands, he sees three strange figures leave the ship; Vance Astro, Yondu and Martinex, the remaining three members of the Guardians of the galaxy.
In times square Eelar begins his attack on the people in the city and is engaged by Hulk and the rest of the Defenders, observed by Charlie-27 who stands in the crowd. Meanwhile on the Captain America, the Guardians introduce themselves the Nighthawk and tell him of their intent to retrieve Charlie. Using the ship’s systems, Vance, Yondu and Nighthawk teleport to Charlie’s location in time to see Eelar’s attack on time’s sq. The Guardians and Defenders team up to stop Eelar who is still spewing his soliloquy on being a conqueror. In the course of the battle, both the Guardians and Doctor Strange find Badoon Programming helmets which seem to have been found nearby, one in a pawn shop where the roberry from the beginning of the story took place and the other from under the water, where the temporal disturbance was seen which was the home of several eels. Strange realises that the disturbance itself was not caused by Eelar, but perhaps by one of the Guardians.The two teams combine and working together defeat Eelar, who through Strange’s magic is returned to the form of an electric eel.
There are two epilogues. One is at the Defender’s home and the Guardians explain that they came to the past to retrieve records of a previous attempt by the Badoon to invade Earth and the Defenders agree to help the Guardians return home, but know of no attempt by the Badoon ( a mystery for another issue methinks) and wish to help the Guardain’s in their fight.
Two: Back on the Captain America, Martinex is joined by the young boy from earlier who is asking lots of questions about where Martinex comes from. The boy tells Martinex that he will be an astronaut when he’s older and will change his name before then, from Astrovik to Astro, Vance Astro.
I liked this issue, despite the at-times meandering story and the less than stellar art. Eelar is a credible threat to the Guardians which they themselves caused and the subplot with Vance’s younger self is very enjoyable. This is the start of a 5 part story with both the Defenders and the Guardians of the Galaxy returning to the 31st Century to face the Badoon. Face front true believer, it’s about to get epic.