I’ve always loved the Defenders, no matter which version. Hulk, Dr Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor; Hulk, Strange, Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat; Angel, Iceman, Cloud . . . really, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a ‘non-team’ or a would-be team, the book has always had something – at the very least, a great mix of characters; at best, great characters and gloriously convoluted plotting.
This mini-series has neither; with one issue to go, it’s proving a rare misstep from writer Joe Casey, so good on such classic Marvel candy as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Iron Man: The Inevitable. This should have been the proverbial shoo-in, a chance to build a new team around Nighthawk, probably the longest-serving member, and certainly the heart and soul of the team.
Instead we’ve had five issues of boring Initiative-related story, with Kyle surrounding himself with pretty dull and/or overused characters while trying to form a new Defenders. Blazing Skull, Junta and Paladin are among the former, She Hulk and Colossus the latter. Yes, the story is convoluted, but it’s pretty much unintelligible, with, this issue, old Defenders baddie Yandroth wittering away about ‘cosmic missteps’ and ‘tentacle choirs’ while Nighthawk is thrown around his own past. And then we meet the final team, supposedly the true destined Defenders – She Hulk, a new Nighthawk, Warlord Krang (not so much a character as a sound effect) and – hey, an actual favourite of mine – the formerly sexy Son of Satan. In a horrendous new costume.
As for the art, Jim Muniz’ people have a strange, plastic quality, and he seems to have problems conveying movement. And really, Damon Hellstron’s hell horses should not look like My Little Pony. As for Yandroth’s dress sense, is it really so tough for a professional artist to draw a suit? There’s the occasional pleasant panel, but overall, this isn’t my cup of tea.
The cover, by Rodolfo Migliari, is, though, gorgeous – so that’s something!
And I’m buying this book, why? Because I’m an idiot, obviously. I grew up reading about a non-team, now I choose comics with my non-brain. Sad, really.