It appears the team of Defenders has solidified– Misty Knight, Valkyrie (now sharing the same body as Annabelle Riggs), Dani Moonstar, Hippolyta, Clea and Elsa Bloodstone. But in another part of Manhattan, a different gathering of heroes has congregated– Iron Fist, Venom, Cannonball, Nate Grey, Hercules, Doctor Strange and Jack Russell (Werewolf By Night). What do these men have in common? They have all been romantic with the stars of this series. (Cannonball and Nate were both involved with the same woman, Dani.) The male heroes have misguidedly gotten together in an effort to dissuade the women from functioning as a team.
The ladies, however, are busy, battling a new version of The Enchantress and The Headmen, who are animating giant skull idols. Amidst the battle, Annabelle runs into Kaycee, her ex. In the end, the guys and girls must combine their powers… and exchange some salty barbs.
I think with this issue, this series has really hit its stride. It helps to have a stable team roster, which nicely includes Valkyrie and Clea, two classic Defenders. It’s also nice to check in with Doctor Strange and the other men from the ladies’ pasts. The tone also solidifies, with a nice blend of action and humor, marked by some excellent dialogue.
Will Sliney’s art wasn’t my favorite in the beginning, but it’s really improved! (No more forced boob and butt shots.) His facial expressions are great and the heavy inks that bugged me initially have really lightened up. My only complaint is that his Hercules is a bit small.
I’ve been somewhat iffy on this book. It’s regularly been the book I most wanted to love, but simply didn’t. It’s just barely managed to be more than average. Suddenly, with this single issue, things have taken a turn for the better! The writing is crisp with sharp dialogue and a fun, light tone. The art has vastly improved! If you didn’t care for this series initially, give this issue a try. It may turn you around.
THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS #9
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Will Sliney
Cover by Mark Brooks