By Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, and Justin Ponsor
With the forthcoming television series featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist arriving on Netflix this Summer, it’s no surprise that we got a brand-new Defenders ongoing series with the same roster. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is just how good this first issue is. It provides an effective excuse for the team to come together as they’re presented with the return of a dangerous enemy that seemingly knows everything about them, including Daredevil’s civilian identity, Matt Murdock. The issue effectively introduces us to the team dynamic, putting the focus on Luke Cage, who we first meet tracking down guys selling drugs on his turf, which – if you have any past experience with Luke, you’ll know it’s a bad move.
Brian Michael Bendis is one of the biggest names that Marvel have to offer and with the wealth of titles under his belt, he knows by now how to write a first issue, with this one being delivered really well. He tends to struggle at the bigger event books from previous experience, but as long as The Defenders can keep the four central characters at the heart of the story, put the focus on characters first like is the case with this issue, then we should be shaping up for a really exciting series. There’s plenty of good stuff going on here too, and one thing that really was effective is how Bendis introduced the characters. He gets Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and each and every one of them excel here. They’re loveable, engaging, and really fun characters.
All of the Defenders interactions are fantastic, and one of the selling points of this series will be focused on them working together. The dynamic will no doubt be tested and, this being a superhero comic, Bendis will probably find an excuse for them to come to blows at some point. For now, seeing the group reunited and together, is a real welcome charm and a delight. There isn’t much time spend with the side characters, but with the main focus on the four, that’s to be expected from a first issue.
David Marquez’ artwork is exceptional, delivering an excellent cinematic feel to the book especially when combined with Justin Ponsor’s fantastic colors. The series feels right at home within the world of the characters’ respective Netflix TV shows, yet the dark and gritty feel is not without its charm. The clean approach to the characters and their emotional depth really pays off, and Marquez is one of the best artists at Marvel these days, so his art is most certainly a selling point on this title and helps along with Marquez’ art elevate the book from good to great. The book feels down to earth and it’s almost hard to believe that this exists in the same universe as series like All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, adopting a realistic tone on the artistic front that helps it feel grounded and well-developed. The neo-noir feel provided here with Ponsor’s vibrant colors, particularly on the name-tags that introduce each of the Defenders in case you didn’t know who they were already, really works.
Well-paced, fun and engaging to read, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’ The Defenders #1 gets off to a strong start that proves it is far more than just a simple gimmick. Actual care was put into this issue, and it shows, making it a really strong release. The writing is superb, the characters are superb, and the art is on another level entirely. If you want to read what could potentially be a start to one of Marvel’s best new series of 2017, then you really need to be reading The Defenders.