As much as I love my Marvel comics, I’m well aware that I don’t have nearly the depth of knowledge about continuity that so many others do. I can talk nostalgically about certain eras of the X-Men and Spider-Man and Daredevil, to be sure, but if there were tests on ‘80s and ‘90s Avengers or Fantastic Four stories, I definitely wouldn’t make the grade.
The same can be said when it comes to certain teams. I never followed X-Force or Thunderbolts (and I really should haven read the latter, since I believe Kurt Busiek is a genius writer).
And then there are The Defenders. Here’s what I remember about that particular team from when I was a kid. Angel, Iceman, and Beast were there (I think). And their final issue in the mid-80s had Moondragon in it and was also a Secret Wars II tie-in, which I owned. And that’s it. While I know their have been various iterations of the book since, usually with Doctor Strange leading the way, I haven’t followed things and all, which is why Defenders #1 isn’t a bad place to start reading.
For all intents and purposes, this new series, written by reliable scribe Al Ewing, lets you walk in with a clean slate. The story is fairly simple – there’s a magical crisis. Doctor Strange mystically pulls together an unwitting group of heroes to help him do battle. Among them are the Silver Surfer, the Masked Raider, Harpy (better known to fans as Betty Banner) and a mysterious newcomer named Cloud.
Whatever character backstories you need on some of these relatively unfamiliar faces are given fairly quickly and concisely. I think it’s safe to assume much of the conflict we’ll be reading going forward will come from this group dynamic and how they all deal with suddenly being thrown together.
While the book may feature heavy hitters like Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer, the big star of Defenders #1 is the artwork, courtesy of the outstanding Javier Rodriguez. There are multiple double page spreads throughout the book that are the definition of eye candy, not to mention the first and final single pages as well. Rodriguez’s work just looks so good on a tablet (I’m reading on an iPad Pro), the only way I think I would appreciate it more is if it was hanging on my wall.
Even if you’ve never given this particular team a thought, Defenders #1 is a feast for your eyes, and well worth gazing upon.