The best thing I like about Matt Fraction’s Defenders is that it has the feel of The Defenders.
Now if you were not a reader of the book during the non-team’s heyday in the 1970s under master scribes Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber, you probably do not know what I mean -- and that is cool.
For with Defenders #4, Matt has captured that feeling for a modern era so in the far future when the title is again relaunched in however they do comic books then, you will know what I was talking about way back when.
Fraction picks up on each individual thread he spins and molds it into a tale of great import. When I read in Defenders #1 the close encounter of the embarrassing kind Dr. Strange had with a co-ed, I never expected it to blossom (if that is the right word) into the one-and-done (or is it?) masterpiece that is Defenders #4. (Shoulda read those Marvel-ous page margin bits more closely!)
Half of making a good team comic – or heck, just a good comic – is in knowing the voices of the characters. They may be new to the writer, but they are by no means new to the readers who are forking over three to four bucks to see their favorites in action. And like it or not, that is a comic book writer’s responsibility. Some (like Fraction and Hickman) take it seriously; others (like Bendis and sometimes Johns) do not consider it at all.
And by all means, Fraction has found the voice of Stephen Strange better than any writer in recent memory. The arrogant physician, the anxious mystic student, the master of the mystic arts, the failed Sorcerer Supreme, the linchpin around which the real Defenders have always revolved: they are all there in Fraction’s Strange.
As I said before, the mini Fear Itself: The Deep was a real appetite wetter for the return of this non-team, and I am glad that Steve Gerber was the main text book from which Fraction studied in bringing these characters again to life as a unit.
So let’s continue to protect humanity against the impossible and shut down those engines!