The Bad News Bears of super heroes are back, as Marvel once again dusts off their “non-team” The Defenders and sends them back into action. This time, the group is assembled at the request of The Hulk, who was recently separated from Bruce Banner. The Hulk asks that his old buddies Dr. Strange, Namor the Submariner and the Silver Surfer stop his evil duplicate Nul the Breaker of Worlds (introduced in ‘Fear Itself’). Since The Hulk cannot physically go near Nul, the group enlists the aid of the red She-Hulk, Betty Ross. And for transportation, Dr. Strange recruits Iron Fist, who owns a big plane.
This issue finds the heroes bouncing all over the Marvel Universe, from Barcelona to Bucharest to China. Their ultimate destination turns out to be Wundagore Mountain, home of the High Evolutionary and his animal men. The cover boasts the tagline “Protecting humanity from the impossible!” so I gather that this new incarnation of The Defenders will focus on more bizarre threats.
The team’s lineup has potential. Dr. Strange comes across as more flawed than I recall seeing him before. Since losing the mantel of “Sorcerer Supreme” he appears to have taken a tumble. Speaking of, She-Hulk likewise seems very troubled, unable to find any “thrills” through normal means. Iron Fist considers life to be a series of events that prevent him from reading comic books. Namor, of course, is always a jerkwad, which is why I love him! Two lead characters have meaningless sex with random hookups and regret it. So basically, we have one of the most motley of crews to be found in a comic series.
Overall the book is well-written and intriguing enough that I’ll be coming back for issue #2, although this one was mostly set up. The characters all have distinct voices and personalities and the storyline seems to be building to something fairly big. There is a bit of action. Iron Fist must fend off an assassination attempt in zero gravity. But overall, it’s mostly talking and laying plans.
The art by the always-stellar Terry and Rachel Dodson looks fantastic! So clean and fluid! They are among my favorite art teams working in comics and they excel at drawing teams, so this book at the very least will look amazing!
I’m not sure how well this book will perform. Its cast is mostly B-Listers. I’m a fan of most of these characters, but most of them struggle to sustain their own books. Maybe there’s strength in numbers and as a team they will appeal to more readers. I do miss some of the other stalwart Defenders like Hellcat and Valkyerie, but they could still potentially show up. She-Hulk is an intriguing substitution, though. I can’t really say that this was “must reading” but I enjoyed it enough.
THE DEFENDERS #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Pencils and Cover by Terry Dodson