The recent teasers from Marvel turned out to be exactly what we in the Cosmic Book News offices thought they were: a tip of the hat to the return of one of the most misunderstood teams (or non-team, for you 1970s fans like myself) of all -- The Defenders!
It was at Sunday’s “Fear Itself” panel at the SDCC that word came from Marvel brass that the Defenders will see a relaunch of their venerable title in December. The new #1 will be brought to us by writer Matt Fraction and artist Terry Dodson.
I like to say as a longtime Marvel reader that I know much about the Avengers and the X-Men. But oh, those Defenders! I was there for the entire original run of that wild, wacky and sometimes (in its latter days) disappointing title. From Thomas to Englehart to Gerber, the adventures of Dr. Strange, Namor, the Hulk, the Surfer, Valkyrie, Nighthawk and Hellcat were some of the best times in this comics reader’s memory.
But with Gerber’s departure, so many writers have tried – and failed – to recreate that original magic that spun off the “Titans Three” arc in Sub-Mariner. I am keeping my fingers crossed this time!
“The Hulk needs a favor and he goes to people he feels owe him. That happens to be some of the people you and I know as the Defenders,” scribe Fraction said in an interview with Comic Book Resources. “It's not necessarily a pleasant reunion. It's not a comfortable one. There are a lot of grudges because of some recent history, but the awkward truth of it all is the Hulk needs help, which is never an easy thing to ask for -- especially if you're him. Red She-Hulk quickly comes along. So does, for reasons to be revealed, Iron Fist."
The Hulk’s request soon takes this group of valiant heroes on a dangerous and very bizarre (this is the Defenders!) quest to expose and unravel a long-buried conspiracy in the Marvel U.
Regulars in this new series are slated to be Iron Fist, Namor, Red She-Hulk, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange; the Hulk’s full role in this series remains somewhat ambiguous for now. The rest of the cast will be one of the things that grows and changes as the series moves forward, much like the original title, Fraction said.
"The line-up is going to expand and contract as our cosmic conspiracy grows. (Author’s note: Did he say “cosmic?!”) Over the course of our first story, the characters come together to help the Hulk and they basically tug on a thread of a sweater that is very big, very weird and very mind-boggling. As that sweater starts to unravel, they discover that they need people to help them," Fraction stated.
As the non-team gains more “members,” each with their own unique expertise, the series will acquire its cast and it will be fun for readers to watch as things keep expanding, evolving and challenging, Fraction said.
“This book never settles. Its structure is very different. The flexibility and freedom with the cast lets me tell a variety of stories," he said.
The Defenders#1 will hit stores in December 2011!