The Defenders #1 (2012)


The Defenders #1; Marvel Comics

The Defenders is (yet another) team-up group in the Marvel Universe.  This relaunch of this group is a spin-off of some of the Fear Itself (awful 2011 event) storylines.  Anyway, this is the first issue in this new volume and it is written by Matt Fraction, penciled by Terry Dodson, inked by Rachel Dodson, and colored by Sonia Oback.  I really disliked Fear Itself (written by Fraction)  – even though I really wanted to like it.  I am enjoying the Invincible Iron Man volume which is also written by Fraction. So, here I was testing out this title.  I like the characters involved, even though I really don’t like the cover or the writer.

The cover has the Defenders posed in front of the enemy that they have assembled to battle.  Honestly, I really dislike the cover because the characters on the cover look like paper cut-outs that were just stuck on the pale-colored monster.  Namor in particular looks horrible – look at his right hand, it’s a fish hand!  Really, this is not a nice cover at all and it kind of hurts me to look at it. I really should not speak further on the matter.

Overall, the entire issue has a rather vintage feel to it. This is definitely something I think Fraction planned, because it’s too obvious not to be the case. When I say “vintage,” I mean the yellow boxes, the page guides in the bottom margin, the character title boxes, etc. There’s a lot here that really reads like a late 1980s or early 1990s comic book.  That’s not a bad thing; in fact, I rather enjoyed this aspect. It’s a bit “refreshing” to have a bit of a return to those issues.

Page 2 is all about the big bad monster. Page 3 introduces Doctor Strange – and I really hate this introduction.  Ugh. It’s a “morning after scene” with the Doctor sprawled in a pink bed in a messy room while the chick from last night informs him “This was a mistake.” Ugh. Bleechhh. I hate that this is how Fraction introduces Strange because it’s not classy at all, and I think Strange is classier than this. I hate how Dodson draws the scene, it’s not really how I would picture this scene – if I was forced to do so. Luckily, the story moves right along and Hulk busts into Strange’s room.  It’s a funny entrance:  Wong apologizing for not halting Hulk! Enter Namor into story. Enter Silver Surfer. But, then we get She-Hulk (red She-Hulk these days, folks!) and her entrance is really priceless. In fact, the frame that brings her into the story is what is responsible for my giving this comic more than one star.

Red She-Hulk Chasing Bulls

Red She-Hulk Chasing Bulls

This is not Jen Walters, this is Betty Ross. I think I prefer Jen Walters, but this is really my first time seeing any Red She-Hulk. (She was created in 2009 by Jeph Loeb.)  I just really got a kick out of She-Hulk in Pamplona – chasing the bulls and screaming “Come back and chase me, you cowards!”  That’s funny; a little silly and stupid, but funny nonetheless.

Ultimately, the story is absent. Hulk says some stuff about where the monster came from and why its a threat, but the reader does not get much by way of Hulk’s words. And then, the entrances of all of the characters except She-Hulk are obnoxious. These are not heroes, they are obnoxious jerks and this issue is about getting them all in one place and on the same quest – whatever that may be.  On the last page, the group seems to meet yet another character – who has them cornered. Overall, the story is pretty much what one expects from Matt Fraction.  The art, too, is somewhat weak. I like the effort to make the issue seem “vintage.” I like She-Hulk’s entrance. Other than that? Not too much here to really like.

2 stars

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