Monday, November 26, 2012

The only thing they're usually Defending is their trademark...


Since it's not like they're going to let the name go to waste, every so often Marvel will try to publish a Defenders comic. I think the most recent incarnation is ending with #12; but the Defenders might be a tough sell, since even when there's a clear idea of what the series is about, readers seem to want it to be like the old, random, original series. Except when they don't...

For example, I picked up Defenders #6, #7, and #8 the other day: these were from 2001, with Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen writing, and Larsen doing most of the art. (Ron Frenz and Al Vey take #8, while Sal Buscema and Al Gordon provide inks on #7 and #6 respectively.) The original four Defenders--Dr. Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer--had been cursed by an old foe, Yandroth: against their will, they were often teleported to potentially world-ending catastrophes. Although the Surfer didn't always appear, the other three were getting a little sick of it: Namor was in the middle of trying to reclaim his kingdom from Attuma, Dr. Strange was finding it difficult to concentrate when he could instantly be elsewhere, and the Hulk was not at his smartest at this point.
Joined by their former teammates Nighthawk, Hellcat, and Valkyrie--all of whom are much more enthusiastic about being Defenders than the others--the four struggle to break the curse, but there may be more to it than appeared on the surface. In fact, the plotline would be wrapped up with a different title on the book, the Order: I don't think Larsen did any art for those six issues, and I remember it as being much less comedic.

Defenders #8 also features an unusual cover blurb: "The Worst Comic Ever Produced" from Comics International. Geez, I liked the issues I read...here's a link to an old CBR interview with Busiek, which mentions Larsen leaving for health reasons, but also describes Nighthawk, Hellcat, and Valkyrie pretty much like I did above! I wonder if I read that interview back in 2001...

2 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

That a pretty good interview. Ahh so much potential there, and it does explain why Larsen wasn't on the series afterwards.

The Order also had potential, since it had the darker aspects of the "4" kick-ass across the globe. I have the 1st issue, and it was funny all the countries that were attacked were understandably pissed, but the US was fine with it until the Order came knocking on their door, then they got all pissed off too.

I still don't get how that series ever got the labeled the "worst comic ever produced" because it wasn't; it was really a throwback to the old 70's series. If anything, the rebooted DC books(with the exception of Batman, GL, and maybe Aquaman) can all lay the real claim to that title.

I guess some backlash was that strong that Marvel still hasn't collected that series yet; either that or they don't want to pay up on the royalties, so take your pick.

CalvinPitt said...

I was just rereading this series last week. It introduced me to Hellcat, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie, and it's the starting point for all the affection I have for them.

I thought Busiek and Larsen did a good job using the Hulk for comedic effect. Especially with Namor.