REVIEW: The Defenders #2 – “Staying Alive”

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Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 06/28/17
Price: $3.99

Defenders #2

Plot: With the Kingpin supposedly “out of the game,” the Defenders are trying to hunt down Diamondback as he starts making moves to try and takeover as the new Kingpin in New York City.

Story:  Being only two issues into the new series, The Defenders already has a great feel to it while still being primarily in set up mode. With the Kingpin trying to go clean and show he’s no longer a massive crime boss, there is this big vacuum in New York City with everyone trying to take over his throne. The prime candidate to do this is Diamondback (an enemy of Luke Cage) and he is already making moves to try and take out the Defenders. Bendis makes a good move of having Diamondback poison Luke, which immediately reveals that the villain is going to be smart and calculated. He knows that Luke will be one of his first threats due to their history with one another, so Diamondback takes him out before there is enough time to formulate a retaliation plan.

The Defenders #2

Right now, Diamondback is this complete wildcard that nobody seems to really know much about. The team behind The Defenders really comes together well to build up their villain within this issue though. While Jessica shares a normal type of fear as a result of seeing Luke unconscious in a hospital bed, the story takes a shift in tone when Danny confronts Fisk about Diamondback. Even though Fisk is out of the crime lifestyle, he immediately seems to become quiet and reserved when Danny brings up Diamondback so directly in their conversation. The art team does a nice job here of painting Fisk in the dark, but altogether the book provides a feeling that even Fisk is, to an extent, scared of Diamondback taking over.

The Defenders #2

The Defenders really builds up this new villain with a sense of ruthlessness and the heroes seem to have no idea of what they have coming in the future. The team seems to storm into Diamondback’s club and assume he will be an easy target because his style and setting seem like that of a low level crime boss; however, everyone quickly realizes that they cannot underestimate Diamondback. The story is still so young that it is establishing the events and characters, but Bendis nicely puts a focus on what the Defenders will actually be up against and how tracking and taking Diamondback down is going to require additional patience and planning.

The Defenders #2

Art: The art in The Defenders is extremely solid across the board and the team of Ponsor and Marquez have a great feel for how the scenes should be drawn and colored. Marquez draws a decent amount of action scenes within the book that put a heavy focus onto specific movements. It works really well because having a closer-up perspective that always has an emphasis on the connection gives the scenes a sense for the additional power these heroes have. His drawing style almost gives the book a slow-motion feeling that brings a sense of fun while the heroes are beating up on thugs who never had a chance to keep up or challenge the Defenders. The book gives readers a visual sense of why these heroes have “super” powers and how quickly they can move in fights.

The Defenders #2

On top of this, Ponsor absolutely nails the colors for this book, utilizing both dark and light scenes when appropriate and breathing life into The Defenders with his color choices. The book has a consistent grittiness to it that provides a great feel for the New York City setting, but Ponsor brings a ton of unique colors into the book’s palate and brings another type of New York flair to everything. There are tons of pages where these neon colors are used which immediately brings out the realistic night time vibe to the City That Never Sleeps. All of the colors feel like they are shining down bright from Times Square or lighting up the dance floor of a hot NYC night club. The color choices really bring a fresh look to The Defenders that set it apart from a lot of other comic books in the market; yet, at the same time, the boldness in the look of this book does not distract or overtake the writing and story, but works with it.

Verdict: The Defenders already has a great feel to it after two issues and the book should only get better. The team and characters are huge parts of Marvel history and each bring a fun individual personality to the table. Bendis has familiarity with the characters and already feels like he’s right at home in the dialogue he’s giving them while the artistic team of Marquez and Ponsor work really well together to have this book looking beautiful. This is definitely a fun book worth checking out with a solid crew handling it and it should only get better once it moves past the introductory stage.

Rating: 4.6/5

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