The best street level superhero book possibly ever.
It has been over a month since the last issue of Defenders which, in all honesty, is way too long of a wait. The series has been gorgeous from the start and writer Brian Michael Bendis seems to get the best out of every character he writes — they’re so fluid and natural. This issue is no different.
So what’s it about?
Why does this matter?
Iron Fist got his back broken, Daredevil isn’t sure if he should tell his team his secret identity, and Luke and Jessica just want to get the drugs off the street. Another eclectic tale featuring four of the coolest street level characters in the Marvel Universe.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What a baby.
This issue very much rewards folks who are longtime Bendis readers. Not only does he refer back to previous stories (like how Squirrel Girl was Luke and Jessica’s nanny), but it also weaves in Bendis creations like Raindrop Lilly. She’s a character who helps people in need and knows what’s going on in the streets, and she’s used in this issue to give Luke and Jessica a respite from the fighting and kicking. Night Nurse makes another appearance and, again, Bendis refers back to a promise Iron Fist made. These details that link back end up feeling like rewards to readers who have been paying attention all this time.
The content of the issue itself is entertaining outside of this of course as we see how Diamondback gets out of the pickle he was put in the last issue. If the first four issues showed us how Diamondback isn’t to be trifled with it appears this issue is starting a new arc for him to show how much worse he can get when push comes to shove. A key scene involving Black Cat, for instance, raises the threat level quite high and leaves the reader on a cliffhanger that’ll leave many Black Cat fans worried. Bendis continues to write good dialogue, especially with how he has Iron Fist tease Daredevil about what his real name is. All in all, there are plenty of character wrinkles to enjoy.
The art by David Marquez continues to be detailed, pretty at times, and well paced. A page always seems to have the perfect angle in its panels and layout. Take a page where Daredevil relays what he hears/senses. Framing four panels with Daredevil in the same position helps the reader know he’s going into his senses mode while the characters and events transpire on the left side of the page. In another, Marquez uses the same two angles on Punisher and Diamondback to convey the completely unemotional Frank Castle juxtaposed with Diamondback’s taunting. The facial expressions are really astounding. In another page, Daredevil is deadly serious, but in the last panel, he smirks perfectly to help land the humor in a scene.
Nice use of repeating imagery.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The plot of this issue is a bit wonky with some of it feeling pointless or dragged out. The opening, for instance, has the Night Nurse go back and forth about refusing payment. It’s two pages, but it seems like a one-panel note dragged on for too long. Raindrop Lilly’s scene meanwhile, doesn’t add much to the book beyond introducing her to the narrative. This scene lasts three pages and while two of them is a pretty double page layout it’s still an odd length given how little we get out of the scene.
Is It Good?
The Defenders continues to be one of the best street level superhero books I’ve ever seen. Bendis commented that New York itself is a character in our interview and he’s not wrong. Marquez depicts the shadows and characters with incredible insight while Bendis draws us into every shadow. The best heroes of the street have never been stronger.