Don't worry Marvel. No spoilers.
At least not yet.
I'm not big on Matt Fraction. I feel his stuff is overly drawn out and decompressed to death. For me, Fear Itself was so-so, predictable as hell, with really no pay off. It was all Cap, Thor and Iron Man; the same stuff we've been getting for years.
So, I'll be honest, I wasn't too thrilled about this new Defenders.
Sans the Surfer, Hulk and Strange, the other characters seem more like a bore. I've never been big on Iron Fist, let alone Martial Arts in comics, and I'd rather stick with Jen Walters than Betty Banner for She-Hulk. Don't get me started on Namor. However, that's what can be beneficial about a team book: you find something you like within the amalgam of assembled characters. And sometimes it may end up that you find yourself liking all the characters! DnA were masters of that with the Guardians of the Galaxy (damn, I miss that book - shame on you, Marvel). But I am happy to say that Fraction seems to have achieved something similar.
In short, I loved this book.
I was just thinking to myself that Marvel doesn't have anything even remotely close to resembling Jeff Lemire's Animal Man or Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing. Two books that are heavy on the horror side -- yes, Defenders has a horror angle to it, and unlike any of their super hero cousins that litter the shelves. In essence, a welcome change! For me, Fraction's Defenders read the same. This doesn't seem to fit in within the Avengers universe (thank, God!) or the Spidey-verse or the Mutant academies. It's off on its own, taking care of business, seemingly outside the rest of the Marvel U., "protecting humanity from the impossible!" That's exactly what I liked about it.
Fraction weaves the story together in such a way that everything makes sense. We get why this character and that character is chosen for the team. Some of the intros are funny as well, which makes for interesting reading. Also, lightens the mood for the very dark opening.
Speaking of the opening, Fraction had me at page two. Seriously, the first couple pages sold me completely as I could see what direction Fraction was taking the Defenders, and he continued giving bits and pieces as the Defenders re-grouped -- and then that last page WOWSER hit! Great opening issue.
Now, Dodson's art I can say met my expectations. It didn't blow me away the way a Brad Walker or Paul Pelletier might, but Dodson did an adequate enough job when it came to drawing the Hulk, that it made this uber-Hulk fan happy. Marvel seems to be going the way of Dale Keown or Gary Frank's Green Goliath as of late, which Dodson resembles a bit here, and I'm all too fine with that. I do have some issues with Dodson's Surfer, he chooses to go the more "fluid," less intimidating look of the Surfer - similar to Coipel's look in The Mighty Thor, which I suppose makes sense, but I prefer the Surfer a more muscular looking cosmic power house. Not a deal breaker by any means, though.
Tomorrow, we'll get Byron's take on this issue as he is our Defenders go-to-guy of choice, but I highly encourage all comic fans to pick this one up. If you are having second guesses about this one, you might regret it as copies are sure to go fast!