The Defenders #1 Review

Reviewer: James Hatton
Story Title: Almost A Good Idea…

Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils & Inks: Kevin Maguire
(Unless the Colorist inked it all?!)
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Historically the Defenders has been a title that people have either paid close attention to because they love the fact that these heroes have little ties to the more structured X-Men, Fant Four, or Avengers. Other people have blown it off because it is an almost random assortment of characters that are seemingly only together because Doctor Strange wants them that way.

Well this time, Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis have decided to try their hand at the book, bringing it back to it’s fundamental roots – and their take is just slightly odder than one might expect when dealing with a Prince, a Hulk, and a Sorcerer Supreme.

STORY!

If you know anything about Doctor Strange, you already have an idea what this story is about. Dormammu is gaining power, but the twist this time is that his sister Umar has formed an alliance with him. Alone, Doctor Strange has faced them both and won – but together… well, it seems that combined they could be a problem.

First warned by the incarnation of Nightmare, you can already feel that this book is taking a different spin than other superhero titles. It actually feels a bit closer to Scott Lobdell’s failed attempt at doing a continuing Alpha Flight series from earlier this past year. The overtone is a more comical one that you would expect from any of these characters – and that is going to be it’s greatest asset, or it’s biggest drawback.

As Strange gathers Hulk and Namor, there is this overtone of comedy. Hulk asking Namor if he ‘ever found Nemo’ and Strange’s kind of ‘roll the eyes’ way of accepting it doesn’t make me feel that this book is expecteed to be taken seriously.

Add into this, that the book is heavy. At the standard comic 23 pages, there are more panels packed per page than most Marvel titles (or DC for that matter). Many pages kicking the ’10 panel’ mark. Lots of reading, which made me feel fine in that it’s a very early 80’s or 70’s model for a book, but threw me off given that it’s just not common.

Art!

Artistically speaking it’s nothing to scream about. Again, the book feels like a throwback from twenty years ago except now with no half-tones and more gradient coloring.

As far as how the art actually looks… mrrr.. I’m torn. Kevin Maguire, who seems to have both pencilled and inked this title either was a bit rushed, or he in fact should not ink himself. (I will say rushed, given the amount of panels he had to do) The characters look fine, but occasionally their neck area looks a bit disproportionate. Call it a minor gripe if you will, but I noticed, so there will be others that do.

Overall!

I didn’t expect a comedy book when I opened this. Nor, though, did I have MANY expectations since I never really read the original Defenders stories. What I got though was a hybrid between a book that tried to make me laugh, and assumed I knew about the history of Doctor Strange.

I will say that unless you are a fan of his, or the original Defenders, this book might leave you a bit dry. The comedy doesn’t hit as hard enough, and the drama that is attempted to be created is overshadowed by the fact that they keep trying to make you smile.

Recommended for fans of the characters and the team.