This post of Defenders vol 1-2 by author Brian Michael Bendis, Illustrations David Marquez has been adapted from two previous posts. First is the spoiler free review followed by the spoiler full review and summary.
Spoiler Free Review
This run of Defenders was written as a companion to the Netflix shows put out around the same time. I absolutely loved the shows. Except for Iron Fist of course, literally no one was a fan of that one. But if you also liked all of the others then this series will not be a disappointment.
Bendis doesn’t do things halfway. This could have easily been a throwaway money maker run but it really stands on its own.
The star of the book is Luke Cage. He’s up against Diamondback, the man who put him in jail and is subsequently the reason he has his powers. Diamondback has a new drug he’s putting on the streets and the Defenders need to get it off.
The run includes a ton of cameos, including an issue starring Deadpool. He does what he always does and really steals focus but it works to lighten up the issues.
Punisher also comes in to play the anti-hero but is also the source of some unexpected humor, at least at his expense.
It also includes a few of my all time favorite Marvel characters. Ben Urich, Elektra, and Echo. So, I’m biased but I like them! I get excited to see them!
The art is quite good, the colors are really eye catching. It captures the story well and the pages flow seamlessly.
It’s honestly just a fun book, lots of action, a simple but coherent plot, and characters who all have their own purpose. It’s so important in these team comics to give everyone a reason to be there and it’s one of the things that Bendis is an absolute master of.
If you enjoyed the shows this is a must read. If you are unfamiliar with most of these characters this really isn’t a bad place to start. You don’t need a ton of backstory to understand this one. And that’s pretty rare for comics.
At two volumes is also quite manageable in length. So go ahead, give it a shot!
Defenders vol 1-2 Summary
This run of Defenders came out around the same time that the Netflix series of these heroes were becoming very popular. I was a huge fan of the shows, except for Iron Fist of course, no one liked that one. It would have been very easy for this run to be a throwaway just to capitalize on the shows’ popularity. But Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t do throwaways.
The Defenders are Iron Fist, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Luke Cage really is the star of this book. Being both incredibly and sweetly human and incredibly strong, both emotionally and physically.
The main baddy of this run is Diamondback. He’s returned from the dead and he’s brought a new drug with him that he plans on selling in Harlem and beyond in order to become the new crime boss in town.
He starts with a bang by shooting Jessica Jones for nosing around his business. As her partner both in crime fighting and in family matters Luke Cage is enraged by this.
Diamondback needs Cage out of the picture but he can’t just shoot his impenetrable skin so he poisons him. He happens to do this in front of sometimes villain Black Cat. She rushes Cage to the Night Nurse for help.
Blade of all people makes a cameo with an antidote to the poison. There will be many cameos in this book. They are mostly fun, at least for Marvel fans who will recognize them.
Cage, Fist, and DD go after Diamondback but he gets away when Punisher appears and shoots absolutely everyone. As always, Punisher has different goals than everyone else and works alone.
Cage has double motives to get Diamondback since Diamondback was the one who put Cage in prison back before he had his powers. Punisher is trying to get to him first because he doesn’t want to risk DD just putting him in jail. They will never not have this fight.
Iron Fist, aka Danny Rand, and Jones manage to get Diamondback arrested for the drugs. So Punisher gets himself arrested so they can be transported together.
Throughout the whole book, my favorite Marvel reporter, Ben Urich, is reporting. He serves as a fancy way of giving the recaps at the beginning of each issue. I just have to say that because I love the way Bendis writes him and I always get excited when he gets a starring role in a series.
Diamondback escapes the prison transfer thanks to Punisher’s general recklessness. He immediately goes to shoot Black Cat a whole bunch. She manages to not die, just get hospitalized.
It is revealed that Diamondback intends on taking on the role of Kingpin and has the OG Kingpin Fisk backing him all the way.
Jones decides they need backup and calls in a favor. From Deadpool. A wildcard if there ever was one.
Bringing in another cameo we get my main gal Elektra, hired to assassinate Diamondback. But she also gets a steller fight with Iron Fist.
The Hood comes into the picture and wants to set up Kingpins in every territory. The Defenders shut this down and end the book by calling in every single connection any of them has. It takes the entire super populace of New York but The Hood and Diamondback will not advance further than this. At least this time.
The plot boils down to the basics but there is no denying that this run is a lot of fun, especially for Marvel fans. These characters play well off of each other. Cage brings a heart to the very serious Jones and DD, Iron Fist even manages to serve a purpose without looking like a total fool.
The issue with Deadpool becomes 100% a Deadpool comic but the levity is nice to break up the seriousness of the drama.
If you enjoyed any of the shows this book will not be a disappointment. It’s also a good team comic with a team that is smaller and more manageable. Four main characters are a lot easier to track than all of the X-Men or Avengers or whatever other groups of heroes there are.
Above all else, enjoy getting to see Luke Cage in the leadership role he was always meant to have. Sorry Daredevil, Cage is in charge now.
4/5 devils of hell’s kitchen 😈😈😈😈
For more Daredevil check out Daredevil End of Days
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