The Defenders #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Daredevil! Iron Fist! Jessica Jones! Luke Cage! All your Netflix favorites together again for the first time, with (for some reason) the Black Cat in this action packed first issue!
What you need to know:
Within panels, we are introduced to the threat: a returning Diamondback. (Noooooo, not Captain America’s lavender haired, Katy Perry looking ex-girlfriend. This is the OG Diamondback, Willis Stryker.) And Willis is up to some pretty nasty, street level business, and that becomes obvious right from the beginning. He’s reclaiming his territory, and he’s bad ass enough to roll over anyone in his path. Just ask the poor scumbag who was selling poisonous I.G.H. mixed with laundry detergent on his streets. Diamondback’s calling card after he kills your ass? He sprinkles a handful of diamonds over you. I’m sorry, but that’s just straight up gangster.
And this is all just the set up…
What you’ll find out:
A lot happens after this, and it all happens really, really fast. As a matter of fact, it happens so fast that we don’t actually see most of it on page. We don’t even get to see what Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist actually do to piss off Diamondback in this issue, we’re just sort of… told.
Diamondback wants to properly announce the reclaiming of his throne to his enemies, all of whom believe him to be long since dead. He does this with style. He knows their secrets and their vulnerabilities, and he’s willing to exploit every single one of them in order to reassert control. There are lots of shots fired here.
One thing that caught me off guard (and maybe pleasantly, I haven’t made up my mind yet) was that despite not being billed as a headliner for this book, Black Cat really has a large role here. She gets at least as much panel time as Iron Fist, Daredevil or Jessica Jones, which is odd considering that they are the supposed co-stars of the book. But, honestly, her presence just proves to increase the threat of Diamondback as we watch his newfound ruthlessness in horror through her eyes.
What just happened:
When you really look at it, this is a story of four best friends who have each other’s backs. It’s serves as catalyst to bring them together and say, “Hey! We should do this team up thing all the time! I love you guys!” That,and it also takes Diamondback to a whole new level of nasty.
I love the bar scene. It felt very true to me. Particularly, I loved Jessica Jones helping herself to a beer and relaxing while Daredevil kicks the crap out of everyone.
Brian Bendis has made no secret of his affection for the “street level” heroes, and that love affair absolutely carries over into The Defenders. Bendis has a storied past with each of these characters, having an obscenely popular run on Daredevil, bringing Luke Cage back from obscurity and into the spotlight in New Avengers and actually having created Jessica Jones. It’s arguable that no one knows these characters as well as he does, so I do find myself trusting him. If there is any fault to his writing here, it’s that he speeds the story along perhaps a little TOO fast. This issue goes from zero to sixty reaaaaaal quick, which is not commonplace for a Bendis piloted plot. Generally, one of his biggest criticisms is that he tends to draw out storylines and even more so in the first issue. That is definitely not the case here. And, as a result, the characters are not all given their equal share of time in the spotlight.
Call me a nerd, but I love the way in which David Marquez introduces each of the four main characters to the storyline with a big, superhero entrance. Despite Luke Cage being the obvious focal point of this issue, that little introduction touch really makes this look like a book with four equal co-stars.
Marquez does some really quality work here. It’s stylized and beautiful, almost a Michael Turner quality at times, while still maintaining the gritty, street level feel of the book.
This issue is a great jumping on point for fans of the Netflix series. It has a very “Hollywood” feel to it. While this introductory issue was not perfect, it was a lot of fun and I expect great things going forward.