Friday, July 15, 2011

Marvel to Announce New Defenders Team at Comic Con

Now I understand why Marvel released that Kurt Busiek Defenders story this week. They're getting the Defenders back together.

All those recent word-based ads Marvel's been posting, starting with the lovely Iron Fist? This is what they were teasing. Some poor, helpful comic folk on the internet took the burden of decoding said teasers to display some catchphrases/mission statements and confirm Marvel's plans.

The Defenders will be a foursome once more, half-founder and half-newbie. Here's the roster:

Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk (aka Betty Ross.)

And the taglines:


(Thanks to Bleeding Cool for the graphics and codebreaking.)

For more info, the full teasers, and a (albeit limited) look back at Defenders history, hit the jump.

The Defenders were never one of my teams. In fact, I rarely noticed their existence. For one, the name, though logically solid and strong, just doesn't work for me in any awe-inspiring, effective way. But then again, that probably wasn't the point. This was a team-that-was-not-a-team. A group of highly individual personalities joining forces temporarily (and repeatedly) to fight off incredible threats. The founders were Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor and The Hulk. All supremely powerful, all solo acts (at least back in the day), all with massive egos and self-absorbed existences, despite their altruistic hero work.

It would probably be a lot of fun to find some very old back issues of those earliest days and read the dynamics of these fierce characters, just as Busiek's stand-alone Defenders story that came out Wednesday was enjoyable.

My brief experiences with Defenders back issues didn't leave the best taste in my mouth. Few years back, when I was without any storage difficulties and in love with flipping though back issue long boxes in comic stores, I found a whole mess of Defenders issues from the early 1980s. So the Defenders team I'm most familiar with (and I probably added them to my list because of the presence of X-Men on the cover) included Beast and Iceman, Valkyrie, Moondragon...

 ...and someone called Cloud.

Honestly, that was the character's name. Cloud. he/she/it was a "sentient nebula" whom I think Iceman had a crush on, until she fell in love with Moondragon and switched to a male form (not a perceptive Nebula it seems, since that's one sure fire way to NOT win over Heather Moondragon. Except for that time she tried to breed the perfect child with Quasar...which to be fair happened a lot to Quasar, whom I also suspect plays on a different team.)

Anyway, I never got into it, and only had a few issues, though I read some of their main story that involved Heather's transformation/possession by the Dragon of the Moon (her constant burden) and their group fighting against it. It was a bit dark, which was fun, and from what I recall well written with a decent amount of humor, though back then Iceman and Beast were always cracking jokes.

So now we're going to have a back to basics, 4-cast roster, with a return of founders Dr. Strange and Silver Surfer. Both of these Marvel legends have recently become quite the team player. Strange has been working with the New Avengers for a couple years now, and Silver Surfer is on maybe the most powerful team throughout Marvel history, the Annihilators. That particular strike force gives Surfer some intimate knowledge with a group of powerful individuals and the development of teamwork.

But I can't see all that much personality conflict playing out among these guys. Iron Fist is good friends with Doc Strange, and is an easy-to-love, classy, blond, dreamy--er, highly talented martial artist, teacher, rich guy, and all in all not the hero that rubs you the wrong way. Red She-Hulk I don't know much about, not being a Hulk reader, but from what I saw of her briefly in Fear Itself it seems she's retained Betty Ross' personality (much like her Father did as Red Hulk) without the extreme mood shifts and intelligence drops, though perhaps with an increase in belligerence.

She-Rulk substituting for Hulk makes sense, but I think placing Iron Fist in Namor's role is inspired. Both are lithe, athletic, agile, and powerful, but Danny Rand's spirituality and history among the "street level" heroes makes him a very interesting addition to what is generally a team that deals with global/cosmic scale dangers.

Even if it's just a miniseries, I'm looking forward to it. Considering Busiek's experience, and considerable ability to craft superb superhero stories, hopefully he'll be the one to get the writing job. Otherwise I'd love to see a Brubaker and/or Fraction return to the character of Iron Fist. Their work on Immortal Iron Fist was some of my favorite ever, and definitely the best Fraction comics I've ever read.

Let me know if you're particularly excited for this new team book, and if you can recommend any particular past storylines/collections to track down for my edification.

Now I'll leave you with a screen cap from a Torchwood preview for the rest of the Miracle Day season, cause it's just nice to look at.

Happy Friday!

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