Neal Adams draws the first appearance of The Defenders on the Retro Cover Of The Week (1971)

Marvel Feature #1, 1971, Marvel Comics, Cover by Neal Adams.

The POP Retro Cover Of The Week continues its celebration and examination of iconic comic covers from the 1970s through the 2000s, this week returning to the Seventies, the decade when Marvel introduced an unusual new team of heroes.

Marvel Feature was created as another “try-out” to test new characters or concepts. The first lead concept was The Defenders: Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Hulk, a very unlikely line-up (which would get even weirder with the addition of the Silver Surfer later).

What was most unusual and surprising was who illustrated the cover, an artist that to my knowledge was drawing these characters for the first and perhaps the only time on a cover, in what would become his long career…Neal Adams.

Readers of this feature know how much I love Neal Adams, and his version of the Hulk here is one of my favorites. The Hulk's face is properly monster-like and not too handsome. Adams' expert foreshortening makes him look like he’s leaping right off the cover. The push-out design of The Defenders logo adds to this feeling.

I’m not sure who the colorist was, but they do something here that Adams often did when coloring his own covers, and is always subconsciously satisfying: they used every color in the spectrum in a tasteful way. The variation in skin tones on Namor and the Hulk are also expertly done…no lazy flat coloring here!

Marvel Feature had several noteworthy covers during its run, so don’t be surprised to see another chosen as POP Retro Cover Of The Week.

Next week: A cover from the Bronze Age ‘80s!

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