The Last Defenders #1
Writers: Joe Casey and Keith Giffen
Pencils: Joe Muniz
Inks: Cam Smith
Considering Casey wrote the wildly underrated classic Wildcats 3.0 and Giffen is the man behind JLI, when they decided to take on their self-professed Ultimate Defender’s story, it had to be worth a look. Speaking of underrated, we seem to be using Nighthawk, with a ragtag group. Stark, for someone pushing for new ideas sure is lackadaisical as to how he puts his teams together. Nighthawk gets Colossus, who is supposedly in Russia, and Blazing Skull, a Ghost Rider knockoff. There’s an unnamed fourth member, as well…
Who turns out to be She Hulk. I’m disappointed they pulled her from her most successful run ever to be a bail bondsman and, now, a Defender. She’s rather redundant on a team with Colossus, but with the idea that Stark wants this team to fail… because he likes sabotaging himself, the She Hulk and the “former” X-Man fit. Naturally, Blazing Skull is all attitude as well. So what is this joke of a team to do?
They are tasked to take out the Sons of the Serpent, who are, according to the She Hulk “the Klan in snake outfits.” That’s a rather silly interpretation, as the Klan falls short of international terrorism generally speaking and doesn’t shoot up government agents, but nonetheless, that’s what we get. This team, set up to fail, is going to try and take out terrorists in order to get back SHEILD agents who went missing (and are, unbeknownst to our heroes all dead but one). Apparently, since Stark thinks the team is a joke, he doesn’t much care about this threat or his missing agents. That’s a bit absurd, especially in the face of the current Captain America story, but apparently we’re not going overboard with the continuity here, though some more internal logic would be nice.
The heroes attack the Sons of the Serpent, which should be easy since the normal humans can’t hurt three members of the team and still make a public mess. This somehow leads to a giant monster showing up. In the background we have vague murmuring of more mystically going on. More on both will surely show up in later issues.
This is a strange book that has severe problems in premise. There is clearly a lot going on here that is being ignored and treated as a joke by the powers that be in the Marvel America. Since the Initiative is meant to stop problems like this, public opinion really should be a huge issue. The characters are rather typical of this kind of team, but, well, its defenders, so that’s to be expected. The book isn’t great, with commonplace characters and a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but Giffen and Casey manage to pack enough intrigue in there to almost make it work. There’s not a lot of greatness here, but some amusing dialogue and fun characters make this worth at checking out if you have any affinity for the concept.