Review #2: The Defenders (Fraction and Dodson)



Mr. McGloin said it in his earlier review: “I loved this book!”

Well, make that two!

Yes, 40 years after their debut everyone’s favorite non-team is back, and writer Matt Fraction has made sure that the book even has the flavor of a 1970s mag. (I do not know if those notes on the bottom of the page will appear in all Marvel mags – this is my only one of the week – but they were a staple back in the 1970s, when Steve Gerber’s Defenders were in their heyday.)

There is something Gerber-esque about this whole book, and Fraction has admitted as much in past interviews about this project. But beyond that – the subtle and not-so-subtle jokes and the big-time cosmic threat and even the threat the scribe has said is behind that – there is a whole lot of story and adventure packed within these pages (as there was in the 1970s).

For a change, I actually feel I got my four bucks’ worth – and you will too!

From its launch in Fear Itself and the Point One one-shot, this tale reassembles our new five-star non-team under the best leader they ever had, Dr. Strange, as they begin the search for Nul, Breaker of Worlds, a dangling plot thread from Fraction’s Fear Itself that, it is promised, will take us all over the Marvel Universe.

And as I read this issue, I felt like this was the Marvel Universe – “my” universe – which has gotten lost, it seems, under all the event comics from Avengers Disassembled onward. This is the universe that had such imagination, such great street-level characters (Luke Cage, Daredevil) as well as cosmic characters (Silver Surfer, Quasar, Nova) and all manner of beings in between.

I knew where the Defenders would go first (see my Brewer Report of November 1): Wundagore! Of all the magic things that have happened there – from elder gods to female spiders – I was wondering which magic Fraction would uncork first. I am overjoyed to see the characters in the last panel, all representing Kirby Kosmic with a Capital “K!” There is one I have not seen since Steve Englehart’s great Avengers/Defenders War — and that was in cameo recall!

Do not let me lead you to think this is your daddy’s Defenders: it is bold, edgy, full of life and the voices of each character is right, just right. What is missing are talking heads, decompressed writing and big art panels showing nothing. What is here? A story with substance and a direction, great art (please take a bow, Dodsons!) and a conclusion that will make you either nostalgic for what used to be from the House of Ideas or say “What the hey?”

Both reactions should bring you back to Defenders next month, and the following one – like me and Matt. See ya then!