Okay, everyone, you can relax.
I missed two days up updates, but don't worry. This doesn't mean I'm secretly Josh Philips in drag. (I just know some of you visual thinkers are out there right now trying to stab your brains with ice picks.
In honor of my trying to catch up, here's a two-parter I was planning on posting, combined into one for easy reading.
Be warned, it's graphics intensive. So if you've got a pansy little 14.4 modem...for god's sake, upgrade to two tin cans on a string. At least then you'll be able to use it as a science experiment.
Listen carefully to people in a comic book shop, and you'll hear a lot of the same arguments. But if you listen carefully, you'll realize that they fall into pretty much two categories.
A) "Character A is stronger/faster/smarter/cooler/more powerful/sexier/greater in the sack/better at raising penguins than Character B..."
or the lesser heard
B) "This should be the line-up of this team. It would so rock."
Well, we've already got posts to debate who could beat who at various stuff.
Time to address that second issue.
With a definitive...twist
Now, all of you comic book geeks out there are probably already chomping at the bit to suggest your team, and how it's the "be all/end all" team line-up. Yours is the ultimate line-up, and if the comic book industry would wise up and give you control of the book, you could do wonderful things with it.
Well, I'm sorry, you're wrong. You do not have the definitive line-up for the Avengers. You do not have the be-all/end-all line-up for the Justice League.
I'm not even sure you've got anything close to a good idea for the line-up of the Power Pack.
And how do I know this? Well, it's really quite simple.
have the definitive line-ups for these teams. So nyah, nyah, nyah.
So, here's how it's gonna work. Two things are going to happen in these columns.
A) I'm going to post my list, and simply dazzle you with the complexity and deep planning I've put into these.
B) You're going to post replies telling me I'm full of it, that with my apparent intellect I'd have a hard time finding my way out of a paper maze in the dark equipped with a leaky kerosine barrel and a packet of matches, and that it's a good thing they're never going to hand over the writing responsibilities of this title because I'd not only run it into the ground, but back a cement mixer over it a few times.
In other words, just like the conversations at your local shop.
First up, Marvel's premiere non-team.
You heard me. Non-team. The Defenders, I've felt, have always worked best when you take a group of personalities that might not always see eye-to-eye but just happen to have a common goal.
Also, just to give you guys a heads up, I'm breaking convention. On my team, there's going to be no Doctor Strange, no Silver Surfer, no Hulk, and no Sub-Mariner.
That's right, get all that gnashing of teeth out of the way now, I'm not reconsidering.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's set up the standard rules for picking teams.
1) No more than 12 members. Any more than that, and we're getting dangerously close to one of those blockbuster summer "X-Men" events. For god's sake, can't Marvel dig up Scourge again to off a few useless mutants? I mean, what's Bishop still doing running around?
2) In the case of the Defenders, there will be a core team of 4 members. It has always been done thusly, and always will be done thusly. You will then pick 8 members who will circle around the core team much like lawyers around an ambulance drop-off. They will be more than just cameos, they will be co-stars.
3) Anybody who mentions a certain deer fawn in this column (besides this mentioning right here
, obviously) will be dragged out into the street, tied down, and forced to read "Fighting American" until their eyes implode.
We're not having any of THAT, here, folks.
Anyway, let's start out by saying hello to our new team leader.
1) Daimon Hellstrom a.k.a. The Son of Satan
Hear me out before you start throwing stones, okay, people?
The Defenders aren't your local Avengers branch. There's very little "hanging around the mansion" between missions going on here.
So, obviously, what we need is someone who can show up and say things like, "You. We have a job to do."
And it's only ten minutes later does anybody realize they have no idea where they're going or where they are
Anybody who leads this team is going to have to be able to do so by three points. Brute power, fear/respect, and raw charisma. This guy's got all three in spades.
Besides, the book always seemed better when it was kinda dark, even during the lighter issues. Who better to carry that permanent sense of darkness than the literal offspring of the Prince of Darkness?
What he brings to party: Leadership, in buckets.
Face it, folks. She just belongs here.
The Valkyrie has always been a favorite of mine. A disembodied 'chooser of the dead' who wound up spiritually bonded to a not-quite-dead-yet woman, she's managed to be a lynchpin on just about every incarnation of the Defenders out there.
Save towards the ends of the run, when for some reason a character this fascinating was passed on for, say, Hellcat
. Why? Cause some people are just stupid, that's why.
The Valkyrie had the spirit of a true warrior, and would wield her magic sword "Dragonfang" and an enchanted spear, she'd be right up there with the Sub-Mariner or Hulk in engaging the front line of the enemy.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we need another dark and gritty character like we've got out there now.
Dark and brooding like the Batman, yes. Stacking bad guy corpses like they're so much kindling like Wolverine, Authority, Spawn, etc...no
Which is why, during the height of her time being written in the Defenders by Steve Gerber (god bless him), she was a furious combatant, but also had a visible softer, gentler side.
All in all, she is the perfect example of an outsider, a person to whom our very way of life can be a strange and alien thing. That, and she's become so devoted to the idea of the team, that she's made it her life to uphold that ideal. Every book needs one of these. It's like not having the Vision around in the Avengers, people.
That, and the fact that this character has appeared in more issues of the Defenders than any other character
. How do you like THEM apples, huh?
Take my word for it, folks. You can't have the Defenders without her.
She's on a strength class right up there with Ben Grimm, the lovable Thing. And she's a hella lot better to look at than Prince Namor on his best day, right, guys?
What she brings to the party: Power and glamour. Power and glamour.
Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that he's wearing what must be one of the most ridiculous costumes ever donned by a superhero, Nighthawk is also someone who just belongs
on this team.
Starting his career as a super-villain
, spoiled bored rich kid Kyle Richmond quickly learned that it's better to do on the side of good, than get your face punched in by whatever spandexed yahoo happened to be around.
Since joining the Defenders, he has had, what I feel, is one of the most vital
roles out of any of the other characters in any series. Here's a character whose real-world point of view can add a stark contrast to the viewpoints of, say, a Son of Satan or a Valkyrie. He's a character who can be just as comfortable talking to a visiting Beast as to the Silver Surfer. He's the one who's least likely to judge anybody else in the book, and makes for a fine card-carrying second-in-command that the leader can consult with if he needs to.
He's the "everyman" here, folks. Namely, he represents YOUR presence in the comic.
Don't let a character like this get away.
What he brings to the party: A touch of the "old guard" tossed in with the team's emotional lynchpin. If Valkyrie is your ideal, this guy is your heart.
4) Luke Cage
Gee, where do I begin?
The problem with a book like the Defenders is that the more outlandish your stories get, the more you risk the chance of your characters and storylines just getting downright silly. When you have a line-up that involves the Silver Surfer, Doc Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, etc....well, it gets hard to think of something besides a cosmic-level threat every time to face against them.
I mean, sure, maybe Jack Kirby could get away with one character shouting, "It's the Infinity Chalice! Quickly, grab it before the Ultranaught finds us, or the creases of reality will rip!" to his equally god-like partners.
But ONLY Jack Kirby can get away with comments like that. That's why he's the King, people.
With the gruff but lovable Luke "Hero for Hire" Cage added on, you have a street-level mentality connected to a team to keep it from aspiring to those higher levels of grandeur. He's the voice that will shout out if at any point he feels that, y'know, the team is kinda missing the POINT of being heroes and forgetting about the little people.
What he brings to the party: A conscience, a sense of humor, and a sense of proportion to keep egos from getting inflated.
That, and he's the last person in the universe who will ever shriek, "It's the Infinity Chalice!"
Okay, so, that gives us our four key characters. Strap yourself down, folks, cause from here on out, it's gonna get weird
As well it should.
These ARE the Defenders we're talking about, here.