Public Domain Super Heroes

Defender (Timely)

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Real Name

Don Stevens

First Appearance

U.S.A. Comics #1 (Aug. 1941)

Original Publisher

Timely Comics

Created by

Charles Nicholas


Don Stevens joined the United States Army at sometime prior to or shortly after the outbreak of World War II. He became the close mentor to a young camp mascot known only as Rusty. Through an unrecorded set of circumstances Stevens and Rusty took on the costumed identities of the Defender and Rusty. Early on in their career they befriended female government agent, Sally Kean.

In August of 1941, Don, Rusty and Sally were taking the Staten Island Ferry when they witnessed a man being thrown overboard from another ship. Investigating, they learned that the ship captain was the notorious Nazi operative and human smuggler Dame Kackle. Unable to prove any wrong doing, Don and Rusty were forced to leave Kackle's ship. Later as the Defender, Don and Rusty discovered that Kackle was smuggling Japanese spies into the United States. Rescuing Sally from Kackle's minions, the Defender and Rusty smashed the operation even though Dame Kackle seemingly got away. By the winter of 1941, Don Stevens and Rusty became interested in a series of incidents involving gun smuggling between the United States and Mexico. Investigating as the Defender and Rusty, they exposed the operation as a Nazi plot organized by American weapons manufacturer J.P. Evans a traitor to his country. Early in 1942, the Defender and Rusty went into action to stop a circus strongman named Oldow, who transformed into a monstrous form at the light of a full moon. Oldow captured Rusty, however the Defender caught up to the killer and sent Oldow falling down a cliff to his death.

Don and Rusty were then deployed to Nicaragua until the spring of 1942. Returning to the United States on leave, they took some time for some R&R in the city of Middleton. However, this leave was cut short as they learned of a series of factory thefts perpetuated by a villain calling himself the Fog. The Defender and Rusty learned that the Fog used special fog coal extorted from a local coal owner. Taking the entire supply, the Defender forced the Fog and his men to attack them directly in order to obtain the needed material. In a one-on-one fight, the Defender exposed the Fog as local scientist Professor Rhinestone, before leaving the scientist to drown.

Public Domain Appearances

  • U.S.A. Comics #1-4


  • Only the Golden Age appearances of the Defender are in the public domain as his only four appearances were in the first 4 issues of Atlas' U.S.A. Comics, which were not renewed in their 28th year. Any subsequent versions used by Marvel Comics, are still under copyright.

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