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Comics Should Be Good Top 50 Countdown! – #20

Here’s #20! Click here for the master list!


The Defenders #20

Saga of the Swamp Thing #20 is the first issue written by Alan Moore. Naturally, you’d figure that would be the pick here, right?

Well, while it certainly is an important part of comic book history, that issue isn’t really all that well known, is it? Heck, it is not even reprinted in the collected Swamp Thing trades, right? They all start with #21, the much more famous issue.

So, with that in mind, I am going to choose the first issue of a DIFFERENT comic book writer, Steve Gerber’s first issue on The Defenders.

Gerber’s run on the title was not even all that long, yet during that period, the late, great Gerber put together what you really could argue is one big graphic novel, as he took the Defenders from the differing approaches of Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart and truly melded the team into the “non-team” that we all know and love so well (yes, the “non-team” approach had been already established, more or less, before this, but not to the extent Gerber took it).

It was a great achievement in comic book superhero storytelling, and I think it is fair to celebrate his run with this issue in the countdown (and I DO think that a lot of folks recall Gerber’s first issue of Defenders).

Other great #20s include a pair of first appearances in Amazing Spider-Man #20 (Scorpion) and Fantastic Four #20 (Molecule Man).

Sandman #20 and Doom Patrol #20 are also notable issues.


Ooo. When I looked at the cover, I was like “Wuhuh? I don’t remember this at all, and I read that series pretty faithfully.” But Steve Gerber, even lesser Gerber, is awesome, so I’ll take it — especially seeing as how Howard’s debut in Fear was robbed at 19.

A few notable (if not terribly high-profile) debuts: Rip Hunter, Time Master in Showcase; Space Cabbie in Mystery in Space; and Ma Hunkel donning the bucket as the original Red Tornado in All-American.

The Crypt of Terror was retitled Tales from the Crypt with issue #20 to become what was probably THE signature horror comic of the 50’s. Hey, who says it has to be all about the tights?

Quasar #20 featuring Quasar battling it our with Defenders villain the Presence, an evil Soviet scientist who gained radioactive powers but lost his sanity — ah, gotta love the Cold War villains! Anyway, Quaze defeats Presence (okay, wtih the help of the Fantastic Four), and thinks that Presence was the enemy-from-space he’d been spending the last two years looking for. Which, um, it wasn’t.

That was the first issue of Defenders that I read; it made me a lifelong fan. I loved how Gerber would slip in the occasional page of just text – it was hard reading as a kid, but it just made me all the more determined to immerse myself in that world.

Am I a bad comics fan for liking the initial Englehart issues more than Gerber’s run?

Loves me some Valkyrie cone-bra action! How come no one uses her in the 616 universe? Seems like someone Bendis would have fun with…

Also: Which is the better “non-team” — Champions or Defenders?

Nice choice!

I read the originals when they first came out but recently just read the first few Defenders Essentials and yeah, I’d agree, those Gerber issues do feel like one long graphic novel story.

Good call not choosing Swamp Thing – but only if Swamp Thing gets the #21 entry!

Showcase #20 is the first appearance of Rip Hunter, Time Master.

Puma Blues #20 was the special benefit issue, containing quite a few extremely rare shorts by top creators of the time.

New Teen Titans (v1) #20 was ‘Dear Mom and Dad’, one of the most notable stories of that run.

Much as I love the Champions, I’d have to say they weren’t a “non-team” so much as a team that didn’t make a lick of sense. Even if that weren’t the case, I’d have to go with the Defenders.

Sorry, DanCJ, but if Space Cabbie doesn’t pull #21, I call shenanigans.

What is the definition of a ‘Non Team’ anyway? i never understood that term.

Random Stranger

July 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm

“What is the definition of a ‘Non Team’ anyway? i never understood that term.”

They showed up, hung around Dr. Strange’s place mooching off his food but never actually had a team charter. The team was whoever showed up that day.

You can’t really blame them — Wong makes the best buffalo wings.

What is the definition of a ‘Non Team’ anyway? i never understood that term.

Yeah, Random Stranger basically nailed it – it’s just a group of heroes who hang out with each other and occasionally get caught up in some superhero-type behavior.

Am I a bad comics fan for liking the initial Englehart issues more than Gerber’s run?
No, just a bad person.

I’d just have gone with Swamp Thing #20. Because this article has convinced me to read Moore’s Swamp Thing and not the Defenders save the Thing or whatever.

I read the Gerber run for the first time recently in Essential Defenders 2 & 3. You need to own them, the run is superb.

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