Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Fearless Defenders #1 review

Sword-slinging shieldmaiden Valkyrie and bionic urban detective Misty Knight make for unlikely partners, but on the evidence of this debut issue, it just might work. They come together when an Asgardian relic begins singing, summoning the dishonoured dead - Viking rogues not fit for Valhalla. Instead, they've been lying in a grave on Earth, and when summoned to un-life, they're out for blood. Sadly for them, they prove easy meat for longtime Marvel heroines Misty and Val.

Despatching the warriors is simply the start of the story, though, raising the question: who's behind the raising of the dead, and why does the singing statue point the finger at Val?

I love magical singing statues, have done ever since I first had Jack and the Beanstalk read to me, so as maguffins go, it gets my attention. It's just one of many aspects of Cullen Bunn's script that works. There's a pithy pen portrait of Val, standing, eyes closed, in a shower of blood that she's hoping is only water. There's Misty's tussle with pirates who have made off with relics from an archaeological dig. Two mysterious villains on the high seas. The introduction of archaeologist Annabelle Riggs, who takes to Val with surprising enthusiasm. And dead Vikings, who are right up there with singing statues in my estimation. Events move along at a satisfying pace, with the only negative being Misty's *!&@? cussing, which is a rather lazy way to say 'streetwise'.

Will Sliney's artwork gives us an appealing pair of leads - Val's Nordic cool and Misty's American sass provide an appealing visual contrast, with their fighting styles further differentiating them (click on image to enlarge). There's Misty, right in the fray with her Stark Industries gadget-filled arm, while Val - initially at least - hacks and slashes from winged steed Aragorn. The dead Viking throng members are creepy as heck, while Annabelle fills the 'normal' person slot nicely. And that singing statue is, of course, lovely. In terms of setting, it's rare for a comic to have two fight scenes that are as different as the pair we're given here - modern pirates, ancient warriors. There are a couple of tweaks I'd like to see ... Val really needs her old cape to evoke the regal feel of an Asgardian warrior, while I miss Misty's massive 'fro from her Heroes For Hire days.

The colours of Veronica Gandini light the pages perfectly, bringing the artwork into further focus. Topping off the issue is the splendid cover by Mark Brooks, telling us that as well as the Norsemen, we're due ninja types.

While the Fearless Defenders comprise just two non-members here, a familiar face shows up next issue and we're promised an all-female non-team before long. Unlike the upcoming X-Men book that's full of femmes, there's an in-story reason for the Defenders' make-up. But I can get to that when the time comes. For now, I'm content to welcome another Marvel Now! title that shows a lot of promise. 

17 comments:

  1. Dr. Riggs is certainly a big step up from Flash "Venom" Thompson in Val's relationship department--hopefully this will be more than a throwaway gag.

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    1. Ah, was that in Venom? I missed that one.

      Bring back Jack Norris!

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    2. Actually, Secret Avengers, and you didn't miss anything by not reading it.

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    3. Ah, ta. I think I still have about 17 robot villain issues to read!

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    4. I *loved" that moment. Both cute and fun at the same time!... and quite a nice surprise too!

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    5. Indeedy. I don't think I'd be brave enough to stick a kiss on a feisty warrior goddess.

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  2. What's nice is that you can listen to the statue's music in AR.

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    1. Now that's intriguing, cheers Bruno - I must dig it out.

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  3. Loved this issue. The "is that a giant flying horse" page was great in every way and summed up how fun and exciting a read the book was. I hope Sliney is able to differentiate a little more from face to face of the female heroes as he progresses. They all resembeled each other too much. Haven't bought ANY comics since DC decided they outgrew me with the 3rd month of the Nu52, so finding such an enjoyable read was a very happy surprise. Can't wait [SPOILER AHEAD. SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD. SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD. SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD] till the issue with the Amazonian character taking up the new code name of "Warrior Woman". It may ease the pain of finding my favorite Amazon Princess' new book unreadable right now. [END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER] That along with the Teen Titans vibe of the new "Young Avengers" might make me finally forget how sad I am to have lost interest in DC Comics.

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    1. Warrior Woman? That's new to me, Anthony - I'm most intrigued. And I do hope Val calls in Hellcat, if she's alive this week, and if Val has the correct set of memories.

      Ah, comics.

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    2. Check here for the reference for Hippolyta's "Warrior Woman" code name... http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=43033 I also heard it referenced in a video interview with these guys, but can't find it. I love that Marvel would go there! So cheeky!

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  4. Ooh Bruno, I shall try that, and sing the song to you at the comics shop this week!

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  5. Finally got to read and review this. Not too bad honestly and I am curious to see where this go. The villain so far doesn't seem too deep, which is really my only complaint. I hope this continues to be good because I would love to see another female team book out there.

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    1. Me too. But more than that, I hope Jack Norris shows up. Especially if he's dead.

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  6. Just finished reading this and all I can think is.. pointless. The reason Val and Misty are partnering up makes no sense. Val just accepting that new lesbian eye-candy is just going to cause more trouble for really no reason made no sense. This whole issue felt rushed and silly. Oh and Misty's bionic arm has apparently become a bionic hand that transformers into a bionic arm? WEIRD.

    Biggest issue? Fan service, pointless lesbian kiss just for the point of having fan service. Seriously we all know lesbians just randomly grab other women and start kissing them and perfectly straight women just.. pretend it didn't happen? It was such garbage. This title COULD have been good, thus far it is just fan service, horrible dialogue "Gun down. Hands in the air." and Misty's stupid speech after. It was awful. Also, no mention of Misty's bff and regular partner, Colleen Wing? Little disappointing too. OK, it was VERY disappointing since the two have been known to operate together.

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    1. Hiya Jan, I definitely want to know what else is going on in Misty's life, and if we don't hear about Colleen and Co I'll be disappointed ... it never makes sense to me when they're not together in a story. But I'm OK with a first issue passing over such things to get to the action.

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