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Last Defenders #1

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Joe Casey, Keith Giffen (co-plotter)
Jim Muniz (p), Cam Smith (i), Antonio Fabela (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: The Last Defenders #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 12.

Plot: As part of the 50 State Initiative, Nighthawk gathers a crude grouping to protect the casino laden shore of New Jersey. Defenders Defenestrate!

Commentary: As a first time reader to a series that has a history dating back to the 1970s, I found The Last Defenders #1 provides enough info. to keep readers in the know, while engaging them in the present crisis.

With that said, I really don't know if I like this book. The dialogue was hokey and awkwardly paced. The art was capable and energetic, but hard to follow in some instances. At one point, Nighthawk knocks a guy to the floor, only to appear standing up in the next panel because of the perspective.

So, why the hell am I going pick up the next issue?

The story begins with Nighthawk taking the lead of a new Defenders team. Unfortunately, Tony "I'm a Manipulative Jerk" Stark disregards Kyle Richmond's candidates for the team for ones of his own choosing: Colossus, the Blazing Skull, and She-Hulk. They're designated the Defenders of New Jersey and immediately dispatched.

But before the team heads out, Joe Casey drops a really forced joke. As Nighthawk goes through the roster, he reads "The Blazing Skull." The winner of the Ghost Rider look-a-like contest then says, "That's Skull… Not Skrull." Crickets. And there are more bad zingers the more you read.

As for the narrative, it jumps to several other inexplicable threads throughout. They appear without segue or relevance. One of which is Yandroth, a Doctor Strange villain, musing about how these last Defenders will let the world fall into his hands.

Well, at least someone knows where all these threads are going. Regrettably, I'm not an alien techno-wizard. And I'm pretty sure you, the reader, aren't either. So, if you pick up this issue, be prepared to reread it just to figure out what you just read.

So why pick this book at all? Nighthawk has a strange old worldly charm that is contrasted by Colossus' frankness, the Blazing Skull's callousness, Iron-Man's scheming, and She-Hulk's hostility. Surrounded by such negative emotions, Nighthawk is somehow resilient and ready to do what is right. Maybe it comes from being a third tier character, the charm of the underdog, but Nighthawk's characterization is worth reading.

Overall, The Last Defenders #1 has great material to work with, but suffers from clunky transitions, disconnected side stories, and very bad jokes.

Final Word: Worth a look.






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