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The Defenders vol 1 s/c

The Defenders vol 1 s/c back

Matt Fraction & Terry Dodson, Michael Lark, Mitch Breitweiser, Victor Ibanez


Page 45 Review by Stephen

“The older I get, the more life seems to be the stupid, frustrating stuff that gets in the way of you and reading comics…”

The Defenders should always be played with a certain degree of insanity, and not just in the pages of TWISTED TOYFARE THEATRE. But the relatively iconoclastic Kieth Giffen era, when they used to run one-line adverts for other titles at the bottom of each page, was the only one worth paying attention to – until now.

The original core members consisted of Dr. Strange trying to pacify a grouchy Hulk and the testosterone-fuelled Namor, while the Silver Surfer buried his head in his hands and bemoaned man’s inhumanity to man. But the roster’s always been flexible, and this is Matt Fraction, the writer of CASANOVA, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and a rejuvenated IRON FIST, so it’s time for some eloquent embellishment and an infusion of big ideas.

A cry for help from an unusually worried Hulk is received by Dr. Stephen ‘still-sleeping-with-his-students’ Strange, who promptly reforms the Defenders by making house calls on Namor (imperiously wrecking a posse of killer whale cullers), the ever-surfing chrome-domed wielder of the Power Cosmic (who answers the flurry as a blizzard of snow - he’s… experimenting), Betty Banner AKA Red She-Hulk with her “big-ass sword”, and Iron Fist who is himself having a one-night stand he probably shouldn’t, so buries his head in some comics instead. Approved!

Together they follower the trail of destruction left by Nul, the Breaker of Worlds, the ebony entity once merged with the Hulk, only to be shot down above Mount Wundagore by a time-addled Prester John in search of a new Avalon, and discover the miraculous Concordance Engine once glimpsed by Dr. Strange in the mind of an archaeologist gone mad.

“Ready the dimensional shift engines for transfer. As soon as we clear this world’s gravity well. I don’t want to risk taking any trash with us and I don’t want to drown in the subsurface undertow of reality collapse.
“It was a nice planet. A nice universe. Shame it has to end like this.”

It’s deliriously written with flashes of purple prose and tip-top terminology injected between the strange revelations of a portentous Prester John and the Defenders’ own daft dialogue. Each receives her or his own colour-coded, third-person perspective and is considerably enhanced by being drawn by Terry ‘sexy’ Dodson then the earthier Michael Lark and Mitch Breitweiser.

Fraction’s really re-thought it through. I particularly liked the notion of the Concordance Engines’ singular defence mechanism, determined to keep themselves hidden by taking the words right out of the your mouth. Explaining to others what you’ve been up to is literally impossible, which brings with it all sorts of unanticipated issues.

Please note: the seventies’ one-line adverts at the bottom of each page resurrected to mirth-inducing effect for the periodical are not reprinted in the trade paperback. But then they really wouldn’t have made sense here. Top tip, then: you may want to rethink waiting for the trades!
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