Who are -- The Defenders? None other than Dr. Strange -- the Sub-Mariner -- and the Hulk! No wonder we made this one king-size!
There are three stories in this issue:
The Day of the Defenders!
This is the first appearance of the Defenders. Dr. Strange sits in his mansion, which he only recently reoccupied (as described in The Return, later this issue). He hears his name being called, and sends his astral form to investigate. It leads him to a hospital, where a man is dying. The doctors are surprised that he was not unhappy to hear the news.
Strange gets a closer look at him, and realizes the man is Yandroth, the so-called “Scientist Supreme” who he fought and left in another dimension long ago. Yandroth ended up finding a dimension of magic, where he learned a whole new world of things. He built a doomsday machine using both science and magic; five hours after he dies, it will launch all the nuclear missiles in the world, destroying everything.
Strange magically orders the doctors to do their best to save Yandroth, but he dies. Strange decides he needs allies. He finds Namor, who he worked with once before. Hearing the stakes, the Atlantean agrees to help, and suggests Hulk and Silver Surfer as additional allies. They using a scrying spell to see what the Surfer is up to; unfortunately, right then he tries to break the barrier Galactus created imprisoning him on Earth, and falls unconscious to the ground.
They do find the Hulk, and Strange condescendingly goads him into helping. The three of them go to the town where Yandroth’s only ID listed him being from. Asking around, they hear of a new lighthouse and check it out. It is protected against Strange’s spells, so Namor attacks it from the sea, and the Hulk from the ground. They find various traps along the way, requiring them to use their full strength to break in.
Strange sends in his astral form, and reaches the computer, which speaks to him via Yandroth’s pre-programmed persona. It explains that it was a trap; it will launch the missiles, but only because it is being powered by the absorbed power of Hulk and Namor’s blows. Strange goes to intercept them, but they believe he is an illusion created by the machine, and attack. He uses the Eye of Agamotto to trick them into attacking each other.
Strange then casts a spell on the machine. He can’t stop it, but he can slow it down, and turns its 5-second countdown into a nearly infinite countdown. As they leave, Namor christens them the Defenders, but as soon as they are named, they break up and leave in different directions. As a last act, Strange magically camouflages the lighthouse so no one ever comes upon it.
The Sub-Mariner and the Icebergs
Reprint of Sub-Mariner Comics #40 from the 50s, in which Namor acts quite differently from his modern appearances, Namor hears of some surface ships nearing the Antarctican site of Atlantis. He tries to persuade his emperor to attack them, but the emperor says no. Namor rebels and tries to trap the ships in a circle of icebergs, which the Atlanteans push into place using submarines.
However, the humans blow up the icebergs with explosives. Namor is now able to convince his leader to attack based on the explosions. He sends Namor’s cousin Namora to sabotage the ships. However, she is caught. They send Namor a note saying they want to meet. They explain that they just want to find some uranium for American nuclear weapons, to be used as a deterrant. Namor suddenly changes his mind about the surface-dwellers—he has no idea they were there for such a peaceful and logical mission!
However, while Namor and Namora are busy deciding to let the surface-dwellers off easy, one of Namor’s rivals, Prince Byrrah, decides to attack them. Namor stops him. However, a new danger presents itself—an avalanche, started by the moving icebergs, will destroy Atlantis. They evacuate the Atlanteans. Byrrah doesn’t believe in the avalanche.
However, the city is destroyed in a big explosion. Namor now thanks the humans, whose scientific instruments helped them notice the avalanche. The humans say no problem and happy to help, and leave. Namor and his people begin to rebuild their city.
In this story, which oddly takes place before the creation of the Defenders in "The Day of the Defenders!", Dr. Strange decided to stop his role as a sorcerer a little while ago, and now works as a medical consultant. However, his nightly wanderings end up bringing him past his old Bleeker Street mansion. He realizes that it is not boarded up, as he instructed Wong, but in perfectly good shape. He opens the unlocked door.
He wanders in, and runs into Wong. However, Wong thinks he is an imposter. Another figure appears. He wears Strange’s traditional sorcerer clothes, but also a blue mask. He insists that he is the true Dr. Strange.
He attacks Strange, and eventually catches him in a spell of levitation. Then he wraps the Cloak of Levitation around Strange and starts to choke him until he passes out.
When he is unconscious, Strange has a dream of the Ancient One, who returns his magical powers to him. Strange wakes up and combats the imposter, ultimately beating him. Taking off the mask, he sees that it is Baron Mordo. However, Mordo teleports away when Strange’s back is turned.
Strange decides that now that he has once again accepted magic into his life, he will continual in his role as the magical defender of the Earth.