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mysterious OR. STRANGE! The vibrant VALKYRIE! The savage SUB-MARINER! The high-flying NIGHTHAWK! The incredible HULK! Evildoers TREMBLE at the names—for these five. form the crux of the greatest NON-TEAM in history, heroes called together only when the need arises—to battle MENACES that threaten the security—or the’very LIFE—of the planet EARTH! ST TIE QRS DAE ERMEECSE, , STEVE GERBER, JIM STARLIN AND LEN WEIN PLOTTED THIS TALE TOGETHER, THEN TUM DIP WHE VATS. STEVE WROTE THE SCRIEL, AND DAN ADKINS, DON NEWTON BuD TIM MOONEY KINISHED THE ART. CHARLOTTE JETTER LETTERED IT, GLYNIS WEIN COLORED IT, ROY THOMAS EDITED IT; AND AREN'T THESE CREDITS RIDICULOUSLY COMPLICATED ? THE LOW RUMBLING: OF THE SUBWAY... TWE AROMA OF OAL WAIT —- COMING STRAIGHT AT Mi FROM ABOVE SouNo: iE ‘Comics Group. A Division of Cadence Industries Corporation. All rights reerved 575 Hadison 0.3, January, 1975 nave. Price 5O¢ per copy m the United States and Canada, Sucription rate $2.60 for CAN ONLY BE AVILLAIN Naat ELL, WELL “ISNT THIS A SURPRISE? (MO/HORN-HEAD-- WAIT! YOU'VE GoT THIS ALL WRONG/ I.WASHT GOING TO ATTACK YOU! 4 SAY--WITHOUP INTERRUPTION vf ah \ THE CHOICE WAS MADE FoR YOU BY YOUR HUMAN ALTER EGO, BRUCE BANNER. YOU ARE HERE WILLINGLY--AS ARE YOUR FELLOW DEFENDERS --SUB-MARINER...OR. STRANG! VALKVRM AND NIGHTHAWK.. ATO PLAY THE GAME OF THE GRANOMASTER !" tal, YET OVERWHELMING WE MERELY STANDS i PRESENCE OF THE GRAND- GAPING AT THE MASTER...OF THESE FOUR PICTURE" HIS . BERETS COSTUMED FIGURES WHOSE SENSES RELAY TO e MIGHT (5 UNDENIABLE, HA. % YET WHO SEEM UTTERLY HELPLESS ..!, IN FANTASTIC FOUR #154 “These, are the Defenders?" Daredevil cries His hyper-senses sean the members of the quartet as they approach him...and reveal each to be more astounding, than the one before. The first is a veritable behemoth! His footsteps resound thunder in Daredevil’s ears. ("He must weigh nearly ton," D.D. realizes, awe-struck,) His heartbeat pounds Wwith trip-hammer force. His voice is @ low, rasping, almost animalistic grow. His every muscle— and his entire mass it musclet— is taut, tensed, primed to unleash unimaginable Power.at the slightest provocation. Thus; though the Man Without Fear has never before met him face-to-face, he can only assume that this gargantuan, brute must be THE WCREDIBLE HULK! The heartbeat...the regal bearing...the sleek, supple, yet immensely powerful musculature of the second approaching titan are alt familiar to ‘Daredevil. And the deep, resonating voice confirms his impression, “We are indeed the Defenders, Iman in red,”” the figuee says, “and we are proud to have you Hand beside usi” There can be no doubt. This is the Scourge of the Seas, the Prince of Atlantis whom 0.0: has ‘mat twice before in battle. This is THE SAVAGE: SUB- MARINER! ‘The third figure, however, is an enigma. Unlike the others, he seems almost at home in this unearthly setting. His heart teat reveals no agitation. His footfalts are so light as to moke jak “hols him at least Daredevil reafizes at once partially suspended in’ mid-air. thet though this man. is human, in every sense..he is also fer more than human. And then, 0.0. recalls a name he has heard spoken only in whispers, the name of 9 mage, a wizard, a Master of the Mystic Arts who, until this moment, he presumed to be a mere legend, Half in jest, Daredevil ‘queries, “DR. STRANGE?” And the caped man nods his head, Dazed, the sightless adventure. focuses his attention as best he can on the fourth Defender. There is rare beauty here, he senses, along with fierce pride and indomitable courage...and sheer strength beyond that of any woman he has encountered before. She seems to have combined in her the most outstanding qualities of the other three— the-raw might of the Hulk, the nobility of Namor, and. the ethereal wisdom of Or. Strange. 1 am called... VALKYRIE,” she says softly ‘And. in spite of himself,” Daredevil shakes his. head. and chuckles. "This is unreal. Did Nighthawk drop in on the four of you and invite you to this party the way he did me?” He did,”” Valkyrie intones solemnly. “And, like you ‘once we knew: that earth's very existence was at stake, we came of our own volition. We But beford Val can continue, the GRANDMASTE R speaks EJ [RAVENGERS # 7.--R OY, THE SERPENT SQUAD ST RIKES—IN CAPTAIN AMERICA AIRY? ¢ — fr reco you: t wave Sy HE'S GONE! ANO STILL WE KNOW NOTHING. BOUT HIM OR HIS GAME *-ONLY THAT HE TRULY. " UT HE FOUND ONLY ME. SOHE PROBED TIC GAMBLING ADDICT. HIS GAMES ARE HIS L/FE, WHEN HE RECEIVED THIS LATEST CHALLENGE, He CAME: LOOKING FOR THE SQUADRON lah SINISTER TOUSE AS HIS CHESSMEN. INTELUGENCE AND @RUTE ‘STRENGTH. aN FLAW-IN-YOUR- ASSESSMENT. "Wy ORIGIN GIVES: I, ee ease) ae: AWAITED-HiS- | RETURN, (NEVER: | CAME MY- CIRCUITS: | GREW-RESTLESS,1 -EFFECTED-SELF- | REPROGRAMMING. TwavVeHeARO_) [TRUE LODNOT : YOUR CALL--AND | | THEN KNOW YOUR \ WISH TO ENGAGE | | ENTIRE FUNCTION WAS GAIING--THAT “Le LEFT: OOOM'S+ \CASTLE-UNDER- “LAUNCHED -SELF “INTO= SPACE-SENDING-CUT- RANDOM - SIGNALS-SEEK- | ING OTHER=PLAYERS. YOU-RESPONDED, QUITE THE CONTRARY. QUITE. IN FACT, T HAVE ALREADY BY MY WILL, NOW, ALL THAT REMAINS |S TO ADVISE respecte BCTV Trans As Imsolemn, somber intonations, the Grandmaster addresses | himself to those who will: be his pawns in this contest for mastery of the earth, while the Prime Mover directs a similar speech at his chosen warriors. "Hear me well, Defenders,” the Grandmaster warns, “tor | shall nat repeat any portion of what I am about to say. And ‘any ‘infraction- of these rules will mean forfeiture of your planet'to my opponent, the computer called Prime Mover. “Each player— that is to say, the Prime Mover and my~ ‘ff will divide his squad into teams of two, Each duo of | pawns will be placed upon.one of the three worlds we have ‘ereated— you see them behind me— to face.a team from the ‘opposing. side. “The object of the game is to defeat the opposition utterly. ‘The Prime Mover’s tears will be attempting to kill you. You *can do no less if you and your earth are to survive. Yourmay ‘employ any means at your disposal toward this end; there ts no such thing as a ‘foul.’ inthe interests of fairness, we have constructed each ‘world tg be totally alien to every pawn, Neither you nor his en will be at any advantage due to environment. Al will b W mo find’ the play areas equally hostile. “Only one of the worlds is inhabited. The pawns whé and on that world may fee! free to use any of the inhabitants’ own devices as a weapon— but they may not request aid from the inhabitants themselves. That will constitute an infraction of the rules. “One test word of caution, The Prime Mover was designed and built by @ man of your earth, but now considers himself far superior to any terrain, man or machine. For that reason, becalise he sees earthmen as fit only for domination. the has chosen his pawns from worlds other than your own, | “strongly advise that youwaste not e moment in wonderment at the bizarre appearance of any of these warriors, lest. they strike while you are occupied being amazed. He has promised ‘each of them a governorship of some sector of the earth in ‘payment for their victory. And they, like you, have entered this contest willingly. “1 need not wish you luck. | would not have selected you had I not believed your skills and powers would triumph over ‘any caprice of fate.’So ! shall merely bid you farewell for now..for the game begins!” . CONTINUED AFTER NEXT PAGE EXACTLY A RESORT LOCAL, bis ir? KN I WISH I HAD YOUR OPTIMISM, LADY. I. 7 TH LZ THE BLACK PANTHER MEETS “THE GOD KILLER” —AND S000 YOU g WOMAN TELEPATHICALLY / “a ANO BEFORE VAL'S / WEBELIEVING EYES, y TAKKOR SETS WIS MEAD BACK IN PLACE... . MY VICTORY COST ME THE ENCHANTED BLADE. BUT DEAR A “BUT WOW T FIND MYSELF STRANGELY AFRAID FOR iM. BUT HAVE T DONE ANY SUCH THING? MY TRUMPH ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH. NIGHTHAWK MUST ALSO OVERCOME A/S OPPONENT. ANO I HAVE SEEN NOS/GN OF HIM... SINCE HE AND THAT BAT THING OROPPED BELOW THE HOLD! RISING FROMTHE VEIL OF MIST! IT 1S HBL! BLAST! IT's AgouT TUE i Got our #7 ROW UNCER! HE OND IF THAT'S TRUE... IT! THAT'S HOW HE SEES” MAYBE HE'S ALSO AS WISH HE'D Stop IAT IRGR ACER” | BLING AS A REAL THAT BLASTED ! “SCREE ING" FOR ASEC|SOT-COULD THINK | % AITING UiNh...GET= TING HIMTO FOLLOW TIONS. THIS-cUTCOME- WAS-NOT-POSSIBLE. of | (THE HORSE UNDER THE “CREEP” ACTUALLY, WE'VE - ‘ nes a gg THE FOUL 000R OF SULFUR PERMEATES THE HOT, HEAVY Aik — yf THE GROUND SHUDDERS,CONVULSES, If ONY OF 5 e. et fl \ hea DARECEVIL AND SUB-MAR/NER B AMO THEMSELVES (TS CREATION. Mi iw & = WAMORIS SE4- SPAWNED FORM THU: Ol WITHOUT FEAR STA) BY NEPTUNE'S 1 THIS PLANET iS AN (NFERNO! WOS PARALYZED; CONFUSED BY THE BARRAGE OF SOUNDS, SHAPES, AND SCENTS. IS BEGINS SLOWLY TO Y JOWEAKEN IN THE OPPRESSIVE HEAT, WHILE THE /AAN/| MORE LIKE SA MINE FIELD! ANO THE CONSTANT WOISE-- THE BILLOWING- 22 HUH--? SOMETHINGS| GOT HOLD OF Ip MY LEGL/ [Like WAMOR HIMSELF. HiS OPPONENT /S AN AMPH/BIOUS CREATURE -THOUBH OFA DRAGTICALLY RENT SORT; FOR WAMOR'S LIFE SUBPORTINS ARMOR /S ARTIFICIAL, WHILE THAT OF HIS EOE ISNATURAL.,.. AND SEEMINGLY MPREGNABLE. cg IpaeeDevn's Arracxee, HOnevER, (5 OFAN ENTIRELY] ALIEN NATURE: A SHAPELESS, REE-FLOWNG GLOP- IMOSE MOVEMENTS D.D'S RADAR SENSE CANNOT ANTICIPATE, CANT LET THAT THING FLOW OVER MB-SUBBOCATE MS. HAVE TD KEEP OUT OF ITS REACH= IWeREDIBLE! I.CAN SEND Hi REELING--BUT MY BLOWS CONCT SEEM TO SAIN Me huge [rato WY, Toy! BLAST /IT CHANGES SHAPE, TOO QUICKLY--CAN'T GET. AM“ FIKVON IT BEFORE p IT STRIKES! if THAS ANY SORTOF —\( THE suruRoUS | (EARTBEAT OR DISTINC-"* FUMES--THE NOISE te oboe, LOAN'T, ~~ oe be ERUPTIONS-- THEM. OTOUTALL | ee ase. —/| OETECT. I AM WAMOR! PRINCE OF THE BLOOD! AVENGING eK as 3, a INCREDIAL E/ ~Seasai AS QUICKLY AS: CAN CONJURE A MYSTICAL PACK ATTACK-- J a (AND Bexween US WE ARE LOOSING Too MUCH FREE fonT0O Many FoRcES WHICH COLLIDE BUT 0O.NOT DISPERSE, BEEN ROCKED TO. TS CORE-- SAVE OR. STRANGE ANO KORVACSTILL STAND, J PXUAUSTED BUT” He UNHARMED. HOW DOES HEDO IT? HOW CAN HE-LAUINCH SO MANY ATTACKS IN SUCH RAPID s.. SUCCESSION? “ML BRAIN IS WIRED DIRECE ‘COMPUTERIZED “AND. AIDED BY HIS CLOAK OF LEVITATION, SOARS AS IF DRECTIV AT tis, S SNE AT \qumpace THAT SPANS POUR DECADES! SPIDEY & DOC SAVAGE—IN GIANTSIZE SPIDER-MAN! 35 THEN FISTEO LEATHER SLAMS STRANGE WINCEG AT THE PAIN NOWETHELESS, THE PROCEDURE WARD AGAINST KORVAC'S JAW! OF THE BLOW. WIS ARE THE WANDS) |/5 SUCCESSFUL. KORVAC THE a he gee OF A FORMER SURGEON, UNAC- | MAN LIVES ~~ BUT HIS, IN SUCH INDELICATE FASHION. CRCUITRY SHATTERED ON. foyer ee WAPACT WITH THE ROCKY PALL THe powers or me SORCERER es OF THis COSMOS WERE USELESS AGAINST KORVAC, BUT STEPHEN STRANGE IS NOTMERELY A WIZARD, FIRST, ANO ABOVE ALL, HE IS HUMAN--A LIVING INTELL! GENCE CONTAINED INA SHELL OF FLESH. BOTH OF THOSE ACTING PIN HARMONY--BOTH CAPABLE OF DEFEATING & FOEMAN, POWERFUL THOUGH HE WAS, THE DULL-BRAINED BEAST TL TRKE THE ENERGY FROMTHE SUN AND TRANSMUTE IT-- INTO] PSYCHOKINETIC FORCE:-OR NTO AN IMPENETRABLE SW/ELD.. HIM, BUT DESTROY HIM, I 21, AND-— ai stavate Conner Mas. wet aN exon: ki; f Wice, ‘RENDERING CONSCIOUS 4 fYOU-CHEATED-YOU- > CHEAT =YOU=-7 SQUORKS ~~ SJ MY PAWNS IN i THE RIGHT TOLIFE [E- --EVEN THOSE WHO, ED. THE GRANQMASTER GESTURES, AND THE ELEMENTAL ENERGIES WHICH | | COMPRISE H/S BEING FLOW OUT TO THE ARENA WORLDS, EACH JOLLIES. SEND US BACK. NOU ALOWE DIDNOT ATTACK IME, DARECEVIL. ft [FS0, He sHouLon'r YJ BE ABLE TO RESIST Hi MY CHALLENGE! . afi OMTINUED AFTER NE: WHAT SORT OF GAME-- 2 TILL SHOW YOU...AS SOON AS LIVE a = WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Pir's & SWAPLE GAME OF CHANCE, THE OUDS IN EITHER OF OUR FAVORS 50: We FLIP THE DISC INTO THE AIR AND CALL OUT THE SIDE WE THINK IT'LL LAND ON. EARTH GETS BACK ITS FREEDOM. IF i” WRONG, YOU'VE JUST WON YOURSELF A SATTE- LITE. BACK HOME, WE USUALLY USE A COIN FOR THIS SORT OF THING-- BUT WE CAN JUST CALL THE’ WARKED SIDE "NEADS" ANDTHE BLANK SIDE pte BLAST/HE'S SO SILENT! HOW He's: I PREFER GAMES OF STRATEGY TO THOSE ‘OF CHANCE...BUT THE SIMPLICITY OF THIS WALL WHAT 0 IT LOOKS LIKE ‘KEEP OUR LITTLE Mut AFTER ALL. YOU AND your worLD \\ | Te BuRSTOF LIGHT ARE FREE--'TiL NEXT \ | 1S SOBLINDINGLY WE MEET. RAREWELL! THAT ONeY | | VICTORY TO YOU, MAN J | OD. IS AWARE CE by. WITHOUT FEAR. ff OTE TRPACROSS SPACE... BACK TO FEEL YOU TOOK" GREAT A RISK, EARTH'S FATE: