Hello and welcome to another great week in Ye Olde School Café! With it being so close to Halloween, I thought it would be cool to do a story about the macabre! I chose Giant Size Defenders #2 as my subject for this week! It contains a story that features not only Doctor Strange and his Defenders, but also the hellish Daimon Hellstrom! Get ready for some great action involving the typical stuff you’d expect from the Defenders and the Son of Satan! Written by Len Wein, with artwork by Gil Kane & Klaus Janson (1974).
The Defenders – we all know them in the beginning as Dr. Strange, The Incredible Hulk, Namor, and Silver Surfer. At this point, the roster has changed slightly, with the additions of Valkyrie and Nighthawk, but the losses of Namor and Silver Surfer. The start of this particular issue shows the Hulk, rampaging and out of control as he mostly is. The Army deploys a new robot to try and stop the green behemoth, but he thrashes it like a child’s toy. After making mincemeat out of the military, Hulk jumps away with one of his patented mile long high jumps. What he sees next is a surprise even to him, and enough of one that it stops him right in his tracks. A little girl is standing right behind him, and as he swivels around, she introduces herself as “Laurie.” She tells him that she’s come to help him, and he then takes her hand and walks inside a nearby building. She then reveals herself to be a demon, and attacks him. The demon then transforms into Bruce Banner, several of them actually, and begins to taunt the beast. The Hulk starts to spaz out, and just keeps screaming uncontrollably.
The scene shifts to the Sanctum Sanctorum of Dr. Strange, as he, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie are confronted by a spirit that tells them that the Hulk is the prisoner of his master, and he’ll be driven completely mad soon if they don’t submit to his wishes. He leaves in a puff of smoke, and the three heroes decide to search the city for their comrade. After the search yields no results, they decide to enlist the help of the Son of Satan, Daimon Hellstrom! Dr. Strange uses his ability of astral projection to ask the mystical mage for help. He agrees, but also warns the Doc that it might not end well. You see, at this point, no one knows the real identity of Daimon Hellstrom. They just believe he’s an expert on demonology and the like. He then transforms into the Son of Satan in front of Strange, and the Sorcerer Supreme remarks that he’s heard the rumors about this secret. After a quick introduction, they head out for this possessed building where the Hulk is being held hostage. Once there, Strange and Hellstrom use their combined powers to break the spell that is keeping them out. They gain entrance, and split up to search for the Hulk.
Dr. Strange takes a hallway that leads to a room where the ghost from before is waiting for him. The spirit begins to torment him with visions of ghosts from his past. Ghostly images of people that he believes he’s harmed in one way or another. He falls to the floor from the powerful images. As Valkyrie, Nighthawk, and the Son of Satan are being tortured, the evil behind this entrapment reveals himself to the reader. It is Asmodeus, and he’d like nothing more than to add the souls of these heroes to the trophy case of his master, Satannish! First, Dr. Strange gets his wits about him, and realizes what’s going on. He uses his extraordinary powers of magic to disperse the images. He then comes to the aid of Valkyrie, who’s being attacked by faceless Amazon women. After defeating them, the two set off to find the others. They run into Nighthawk, and just in time, as he’s taking a beating. They unite to set him free, and then turn their attention to finding Hellstrom and the Hulk.
They search for and find the Hulk rather quickly, but he exclaims that he doesn’t need their help, as he pounds on the “puny Banners.” Hellstrom then appears and tells them that he had to relive his mother’s death as he was plagued by the demon. Now that they are reunited, they get ready to find the demon and get some answers. Just as they try to make a move, the floor falls out from underneath them, and they fall right into a room that Asmodeus occupies. The heroes attack him, but have little success. He vows to make his master Satannish proud, and begins to overwhelm them. He does have difficulty handling Hellstrom, though, as he is the spawn of an evil being himself, so Asmodeus’s powers don’t affect him. This problem delays his victory long enough for the clock to strike midnight. Asmodeus was given only twelve hours to defeat them, so now his power fades away, and his master comes for him. The giant, evil hand of Satannish springs forth from the depths below, and pulls Asmodeus under as punishment for his failure.
Well, that’s it for now, and it was my pleasure to bring you this fantastic tale of one of the mightiest groups ever assembled – The Defenders! See you next week!