I liked the initial Defenders story in Point One. But I haven’t been sold on anything Matt Fraction has written that’s not Casanova (and even that sometimes I flip-flop on) in a while. Despite that, I’ve always considered myself a Fraction fan. I loved his Iron Fist. I really started digging my teeth into current X-Men with his run on Uncanny. With Defenders, I finally have a Fraction book that I can love again. (And you do, too!)
Fraction is at his best when all of his wacky ideas are allowed to be just that. While the Defenders are a classic team, they would definitely need an updated team dynamic and mission to separate themselves from becoming the “Magic Avengers” Fortunately, Fraction gives it to us by hearkening back to the original squad with Hulk and bringing in newbies She-Hulk and Iron Fist. This issue is one of the “getting the team together” variety but it’s still fun. The “Black Hulk” aspect of the plot has the potential to get tired pretty quickly but considering that this is an story called “Breaker of Worlds, Part I: I Hate Myself and Want to Die,” I’d say that Fraction has something reality twisting in store.
Like I said, the story is a getting the team together one and while it’s not really revolutionary in it’s execution, it is a lot of fun. She-Hulk (complete with “big ass sword”) is in rare form in Spain. Iron Fist is doing the rich guy, anti-gravity Kung-Fu thing. Strange is, well, strange. Silver Surfer is detached and Namor (as always) is kind of a pain in the ass. The appeal for me was seeing Dr. Strange in a regular book for the first time in a long time. I initially got the feeling that Fraction was writing him a bit too close to Tony Stark (the Marvel Universe sure does have a lot of those dickish types), but he quickly came into him own. He’s a little bizarre. He says “‘tis.” Each of the characters have their own little antics that play out in this books and start carving out what their niche on this team will be. It’ll be interesting to how those roles will change when they are thrust into more Philip K. Dickian circumstances. The Defenders are gearing up to be the kind of team that could very well kick your ass but will probably end up invading your mind on a mission to save the very part of you that’s worth saving. Baggage toting villains, beware.
On the art side, the Dodsons continue to make excellent looking superhero comics. I don’t have enough good things to say about them. There’s a certain sheen to their work that doesn’t exist in the work of too many others. It’s polished and professional while still having edge that sets it apart from other artists. I pray that we don’t lose the Dodsons on this book. I used to dread pulling an issue of Uncanny X-Men off the shelves when it had a Dodsons cover because I didn’t know if the interiors would be them. Hopefully, we don’t get lesser fill-in artists on Defenders.
This is a pretty standard first issue. Fraction took a bit more of a chance with his story in Point One and so this one seems pretty tame by comparison but I have a feeling that the weird is waiting in the wings. This book has no chance of being the “Magic Avengers” but it has an excellent chance to be the “Avengers on Acid.” Here’s to a good trip.
WRITING: 4 / ART: 4.5 / OVERALL: 4.25