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Defenders #1

Posted: Friday, August 5, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Almost a Good Idea..."

Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Art: Kevin Maguire
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN

Plot:
After he's contacted by Nightmare who warns him about a dire threat that threatens to destroy reality as we know it, we see Doctor Strange decides that the time has comes to reform the Defenders. Needless to say that bringing the Hulk and Namor together in the same room results in the attention shifting away from actually saving the world to petty bickering, and Doctor Strange decides it's simply best to embark on the mission, and hope that things will work out for the best.

Comments:
Before I get started on my ever predictable praise of all things Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, I will come right out and say that this book isn't quite as endearing as their work on the Justice League, thanks largely to the simple fact that Doctor Strange, the Hulk and Namor already have well established personalities, and as such there's not nearly as much room for Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis to work their magic. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I much rather they had been given a collection of B-list heroes that they could develop personalities for, rather than playing with characters who were already well established in the minds of the readers. Still this is a very funny start to what I hope will become a monthly series, as the interplay between the three is downright hilarious and more importantly the personalities of the three make for a very entertaining show, as they feed off each other. I mean the chip on Namor's shoulder has never been bigger, and watching Banner continually poke and prod Namor in the hopes of getting him to live up to his reputation as a arrogant hothead was very entertaining. However the standout character in this series would have to be Doctor Strange, as much like the Martian Manhunter's role as the baby-sitter of the Blue and Gold JLA, Doctor Strange is hilarious as he struggles to keep his cool while the Hulk and Namor do their best to annoy the hell out of him. There's also a number of amusing throwaways gags, as the writing has some fun with the fact that Doctor Stranger still uses the label "manservant" to describe Wong's job in his house, and the conversation between the two villains where they discuss the impending success of their latest plan to destroy the universe is stands up as my personal favourite section of the issue. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the writing also managed to include a pretty exciting escalation of events in the final pages, as the Defenders are in a pretty tough spot as this issue draws to a close.

Kevin Maguire is the only artist who has me welcoming twenty-two pages of talking heads, as the sheer variety of the facial expressions that he brings to the table is truly amazing. I mean how can one not love Doctor Strange's continual attempts to remain composed, while the Hulk and Namor continue their inane contest over who can be the most temperamental person in the room, or the sheer hilarity of the panels where Namor is all prepared to get upset when he comes to realize that he doesn't recognize the pop-culture reference that Banner has made, and as such he's not entirely sure he's been insulted. There's also a number of very funny visual gags, from the haughty backhand slap that Namor uses to respond to Banner latest insult, to the revelation shot where we look in on the Silver Surfer's current whereabouts. I do have to ask about Namor's missing nipples though, as while it's not going to keep me up nights, it is a mystery worthy of lengthy online debate, and one which I'm sure will further fracture the tattered remains of the Internet.



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