You are breathing the air of Caesar of Hannibal of Da Vinci of Galileo
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inker: Rachel Dodson
Colourist: Sonia Oback
Published by Marvel
After the fun that the first issue provided I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next instalment. Picking up from the cliff-hanger last issue Matt Fractions and the Dodsons treat us to the team battling minions of the emissary of Nul, Prestor John. I was unsure whether the ultra evolved animals; the New Men would pose a threat to a team boasting Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer but it’s the enigmatic John that keeps the battle tense and interesting with unknown powers with his array of unknown powers.
For a team of heavy hitters, the book could easily be too action orientated but Fraction reminds us why he’s one the best in the business, providing lots of characterisation and drama. The scene in which Strange attempts to transform Red She-Hulk back into her human guise was funny, but also showed us that Betty Ross isn’t all muscles and that Doctor Strange isn’t always the polite gentlemen we’re used too. Namor’s arrogance is in full effect but Fraction keeps him likeable by giving it a touch of humour. This too happens with Surfer, who I felt was under utilised in the issue, with him quickly being thwarted in battle and then spending the rest of the issue trapped in a energy bubble.
Iron Fist, meanwhile serves as the teams comic relief, with several funny scenes when he is stupefied, but Fraction’s love of the character is evident as he steals the show from his team mates. From healing himself from a bullet wound, getting in plenty of hits in during the action scenes and having the best lines of the issue (“Supid! Tiger! Ass!). Another character you can tell Fraction is enjoying is Red She-Hulk. Similar to Iron Fist, she gets lots of panel time, some good one liners and the aforementioned characterisation. Strange too gets all this, with his showing in the fights, his funny moments and his leadership qualities really shine through.
Like the prior issue, notes are scattered at the bottom of various pages, taking the form of advertisements “The stunning conclusion to Avengers: Children’s Crusade is coming soon!!.” old school style ad breaks “Continued on next page following” and peculiar messages; “Everyone you love dies. Shut the engines down.” These really add to the experience of the issue as a fourth wall breaking ways to bring the reader into the story.
The contrast of these messages, is similar to the tones of the series, mixing the humour with the sinister. Nul himself, who has been described as “the Hulk’s Hulk.” appears briefly, but Fraction and Co. show that he is force to reckoned with. The magical science of the Concordance Engine, a Kirbyesque machine that “shapes the time, space and universes” is a interesting concept yet it’s inclusion seems a bit tacked on at the moment and seems to only serve as a Mcguffin at the moment with it being what Nul is after. Prestor John, with his menacing proclamations such as “God is dead” and his powers that he demonstrated in battle are building him into a creepy villain and I hope he’s not cast aside when Nul makes his arrival.
The Dodsons and colourist Sonia Oback are on top form as usual, showing their capability on both action and character. A book like this could of really suffered without such veteran artists as scripts have called for so much, from super heroes, animals people, Hulk monsters, crazy sci-fi machines and exotic locales, so you need someone on board who can handle everything Matt Fraction throws at them.
Overall, Defenders #2 was a satisfying and fun instalment to Marvel’s best new book.