One of my favorite books growing up in the 70s was The Defenders with their seemingly mismatched yet powerful though hardly stable roster. But it was clear that they won because of the leadership and mystic prowess of DOCTOR STRANGE and the sheer power and determination of the INCREDIBLE HULK! Brains and brawn, subtlety and stubbornness. The two never looked like they belonged together but somehow it felt right. At the beginning the Hulk was either perplexed by Strange's words or annoyed at his instructions. There was a certain snobbery on the Sorcerer Supreme's part as well. He felt that the Green Goliath (as well as the Sub-Mariner) should naturally obey his orders as their intellectual superior. They weren't partners yet, not even allies officially. Strange saw the Hulk as a weapon to be directed. He never said that, of course. He had too much tact and breeding but he wasn't as cordial as you might think. The Hulk was, to Strange in those early days, "brainless", "bestial", a "behemoth" and a "monster". He needed the physical might of the Hulk and felt that he could safely use him.

Sadly that attitude was what drove Namor away from Strange by The Defenders #14.

But the Hulk was never one to be ordered. He grew angrier at Strange's demands and quests, no matter how important they were. He often leapt away in a rage, vowing never to return. However the Hulk knew that Doctor Strange never summoned him unless there was a great evil to fight. No matter how he railed against "Stupid Magician", he always fought at his side. Eventually the two acknowledged their surprising friendship with the Hulk finding sanctuary at Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village.

The friendship sometimes seemed like a "father/son" dynamic as Strange would offer the Hulk comfort and support. In fact, the Master of the Mystic Arts did his best to understand the Hulk whereas the Fantastic Four or the Avengers would simply attack him.

IF the two were on the same page, could they defeat:

  • Superman & Batman
  • the Flash & Green Lantern
  • Thor & Iron Man
  • Mister Fantastic & the Thing
  • Storm & Colossus
  • Doctor Doom & the Sub-Mariner
  • Wonder Woman & Zatanna?

I'm surprised that they never had Baron Mordo and the Abomination pair up or create an evil version of the Defenders (the Attackers?.

Anyway could Doctor Strange and the Hulk be invincible as a regular team?

What do you think?

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In theory, one would think they could beat any of those pairs of teams. However:

* Batman and Superman - Assuming Strange goes after Superman first, they'd have a good shot. That's not an easy assumption to make however, and why would they be fighting in the first place? That would determine a great deal of the outcome.

* Flash and Green Lantern - No natural aversion to magic here. Maybe they win, and maybe GL puts the Hulk in a giant bubble in outer space while the Flash knocks out Strange before he can even utter, "By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!"

* Thor and Iron Man - Why are they fighting? Also, isn't iron a natural deterrent to magic?

* Mister Fantastic and the Thing - I'd be shocked if Reed hasn't figured out some way to negate Strange by now. Also, by the time the Hulk defeated the Thing, Reed would likely have a way of dealing with him as well.

* Storm and Colossus - No contest. Hulk and Strange

* Dr. Doom and Sub-Mariner - the only chance the devilish duo have is if a) Doom gets off the first spell and b) they're fighting in water.

* Wonder Woman and Zatanna - I'll defer to the greater physical prowess and magical ability here.

There are additional factors that could change the outcomes as well. For instance, which version of the Hulk are we talking about? Unless it's either mindless Hulk or "Hulk Smash" Hulk, I'd bet on the other side in most instances--unless Dr. Strange gets off the first spell.

Oh, and you forgot Lex Luthor and Doomsday.

I don't know, Philip, but I'm as big a fan of Marvel's "non-team" as you are. I'd like nothing more than to see another version of the Defenders "done right." Incidentally, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness did do something along the lines you suggest a couple of years ago (but with the Red Hulk instead of the Abomination). The variant edition of Hulk #10 created a dyptych with the main cover.

 

To Randy: Do you see the Hulk as being capable of giving Superman a good fight? The Man of Steel may be stronger but the Hulk is more brutal and more primal. Plus Superman never fights at his full potential on Earth.

I prefer the "Hulk Smash" version because he's more emotional with an inner rage that is more honest than animal.

Reed and Stark might be able to handle the man but never the magic. It's beyond their understanding though Stark would never admit that!

Doom and Namor have a good chance if Doom can counter Strange and they're near the water and, oh yeah, Doom doesn't betray Namor in mid-battle!

I was trying to come up with pairs that would naturally be together but yeah how about:

  • Magneto & the Juggernaut
  • Doctor Fate & Solomon Grundy
  • Darkseid & Eclipso
  • Captain Marvel (SHAZAM!) & Ibis the Invincible 
  • Sasquatch and Shaman
  • Popeye and Mandrake

To Jeff: after the failure of the last THREE Defenders series, I would love for the "Band" to get together. I don't think that you need the Silver Surfer. But you need Doc, Namor and the Hulk, for sure. Not the Red Hulk or She-Hulk or Red She-Hulk. Plus Val and Nighthawk, though I'm torn if I want to see Kyle upgraded or stay the mediocre, bitter, bad luck riddled C-lister that we know and love!

Truth be told, I miss the Happy-Go-Lucky Hellcat with all her parent-problems and "Archie" past, the insecure yet sweet Gargoyle and the never-again-to-be-called-and-totally-unmerchandisable* Son of Satan. That was a guy who you couldn't tell to lighten up! His very existence was built-in drama and pathos. He was the ultimate anti-hero.

That's the Defenders I want!

*I still want a Son of Satan action figure!! No Hellstorm or Damian H. BS!

Hey I can dream, can't I?

I think the Hulk would give Superman enough of a fight that Dr. Strange could potentially have the time to cast a spell that could immobilize Superman--presuming Batman hasn't already taken Strange out.

Hulk Smash Hulk gives them a better chance against anyone, because that's him at his strongest--or at least his potential strongest.

So much depends on the speed at which the various combatants act, the targets they select, and the circumstances of environment..

Randy Jackson said:

In theory, one would think they could beat any of those pairs of teams. However:


* Mister Fantastic and the Thing - I'd be shocked if Reed hasn't figured out some way to negate Strange by now. Also, by the time the Hulk defeated the Thing, Reed would likely have a way of dealing with him as well.

I'll beg to differ on that one. Mark Waid showed us, when Reed teamed up with Dr. Strange, that magic is something he can't comprehend. Magic is too imprecise for Reed to create something to counter it.

Reed and Stark probably see Strange's magic in their scientific terms. The Cloak of Levitation is an anti-gravity device. The Eye of Agamotto is a telepathic probe. The Crimson bands of Cyrotokk are a force field and so forth.

Philip Portelli said:

Reed and Stark probably see Strange's magic in their scientific terms. The Cloak of Levitation is an anti-gravity device. The Eye of Agamotto is a telepathic probe. The Crimson bands of Cyrotokk are a force field and so forth.

... and that's exactly why they can't comprehend magic. It's NOT science.

Correct me if I'm wrong--it's been a while since I read the series=--but during that same run, didn't Doom force Reed to learn some magic to solve a problem?  If such is the case, it wouldn't surprise me if Reed has at least some idea as to how to work with those properties.

ClarkKent_DC said:


I'll beg to differ on that one. Mark Waid showed us, when Reed teamed up with Dr. Strange, that magic is something he can't comprehend. Magic is too imprecise for Reed to create something to counter it.

Randy Jackson said:

Correct me if I'm wrong--it's been a while since I read the series=--but during that same run, didn't Doom force Reed to learn some magic to solve a problem?  If such is the case, it wouldn't surprise me if Reed has at least some idea as to how to work with those properties.

ClarkKent_DC said:


I'll beg to differ on that one. Mark Waid showed us, when Reed teamed up with Dr. Strange, that magic is something he can't comprehend. Magic is too imprecise for Reed to create something to counter it.

It's been a while since I read the series either, but Dr. Strange guided Reed through the use of magic -- and it drove him bats because he was very exacting in how he cited every incantation, and it wouldn't work for him. Dr. Strange had to push him to let go, because magic works as much through feeling as through knowledge. Once Reed got that, he could do what he needed to do. So Reed could work magic, but he couldn't master it; it's too far out of his wheelhouse.

Notice that the scientist says "Magic is just another form of science" but the magician never says "Science is just another form of magic." They are NOT the same.

We're also making the assumption that Reed will have to neutralize Dr. Strange through use of magic.  I will reiterate--in my opinion, speed and choice of antagonist would mean a lot.  Let's say for instance that Reed sucker punches Stephen...would the Sorceror Supreme be able to withstand that attack?  How quickly could he react in casting a spell?

Of course, the Eye of Agamotto could protect Dr. Strange from physical attack automatically like Green Lantern's ring, but there are other things that could happen.  It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that they could convince the Hulk to turn on Dr. Strange.

Without knowing a) why they're fighting, b) who attacks first and c) who selects what target, it's really hard to say definitively who would defeat who.

Slightly off topic but on the topic of the title topic, I used to struggle with the WORLD'S FINEST COMICS title as a kid until it hit me that we were supposed to take it in the same way as "New York's Finest" (or any city's Finest)--i.e. the cops, the fuzz, the pigs, the bobbies, the boys in blue, the gendarmes, the constabulary.

Superman and Batman were the policemen of the world. Especially in the '50s, there was ample evidence that they had standing in almost every jurisdiction in the free world and were duly deputized law officers--and therefore the World's Finest. Which is different from saying AMERICA'S BEST or ALL-STAR or AMERICA'S GREATEST or ALL WINNERS--like with the other comics that featured characters from the publishers' top of the bill. Few other costumed heroes could claim to be world-recognized law officers.

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