Released: December 26th 2017
Issues: Defenders 1-5, Free Comic Book Day 2017
If you’re a fan of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil, or Jessica Jones (or any combination of those heroes, really) then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the Defenders. Together they make an odd, but enjoyable team of crime fighting heroes. Unlike the Avengers, the Defenders focuses less on world-ending villains and more on the city and town level of villains, bringing them more down to Earth (in my opinion at least). If you haven’t read the comics, but have seen the Neftlix shows, then I think you’d still appreciate this series; as most of the references are also done in the show (or are explained or relatively minor).
This volume gave me all the feelings. No, seriously. It’s insanely intense at points, hilarious at others, and emotional when possible. It makes for a pretty fast paced read, on the whole. Also, and I’m sure many fans would agree with me here, the dynamics between the four characters is more established and smoother than seen in the TV show (I have theories about that, but I’ll spare my review that rant).
As the title probably implies, the main antagonist for this volume/series is Diamondback. Which I actually prefer – it’s a nice change up from their typical villains and I truly believe somebody like Diamondback could keep the lot of them pretty busy, to say the least (no offense to Fisk, he’s intimidating in his own right). If you’re picturing the Diamondback from the TV show, well, while you’re not far off, just keep in mind that his backstory is different (more in line with the comic continuity). I don’t think it’ll cause you any major problems, as they did a pretty good (and interesting) job of summing up his history.
I still can’t believe how quickly the Defenders gets thrown into the plot and the intensity that comes with it. If you’re hoping to avoid spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading. In response to something the guys (Luke, Iron Fist, and Daredevil) did, Diamondback responds with a scorched earth sort of policy; he blows up the Heroes for Hire office (not the first time, I’m sure), hits Rand Corp (again, probably not the first time), goes after Matt Murdock (let that sink in for a minute: he knew Daredevil’s secret identity; nobody else in the Defenders even knows that), and he shot Jessica Jones in the stomach. I’ll give you a minute to think that through.
You done? While we can all agree it’s a pretty harsh move, I also don’t think he believed for a second it was going to send the message he claimed (that they were to back off). There’s no way on Earth Luke Cage would hear about his wife getting shot and not go after the guy that shot her. End of story. I sincerely believe that Diamondback was actually trying to start a war here, and I’m seeing little evidence to contradict it.
Did I mention everything listed above happened in the first issue? Like I said, they wasted no time mucking around here. Other noteworthy events include some pretty astounding (in my opinion) cameos; Night Nurse (one of my favorites) and…Blade. Yep, you read that correctly. While he isn’t in it for more than a couple of pages, it was really fun seeing him do a walk on role like that (and possibly pretty funny, considering the relatively minor role he played).
If you’re looking for a whirlwind read, then this is the place to go. It’s worth noting that the main author for this series, Bendis, is leaving Marvel shortly. I don’t know what this means for the fate of the Defenders; but it leaves us with two distinct possibilities. One, they hire a new writer or writing team to take over the Defenders. Or two, they cancel it. I’m hoping for the former, but that may change the tone and events of the story, so I can’t say much about what will happen next.