Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fearless Defenders Vol 1 & 2 by Cullen Bunn

Fearless Defenders Vol 1: Doom Maidens and Vol 2: The Most Fabulous Fighting Team of All, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by a few different artists, comprise the entire run of Fearless Defenders comics. Which is sad. They are an all-woman team of superheroes (and one archaeologist) centred around Valkyrie and Knight and and a team that grows throughout the issues.

New team! New villains! New creators! Valkyrie and Misty Knight are the Fearless Defenders, and not since Power Man and Iron Fist has an unlikely duo kicked this much - well, you know. Writer Cullen Bunn (VENOM, Sixth Gun, FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS) and new-to-Marvel artist Will Sliney (MacGyver, Star Wars) bring you the book that everyone is going to be talking about...and that's a promise!

It's the biggest status quo change to date for the Fearless Defenders...but we're not going to spoil it here! Misty kicked ass in Valkyrie's world, now it's time to see how Valkyrie fairs in Misty's. But it's not easy being an Asgardian shieldmaiden - especially when your boyfriend's got a chip on his shoulder! Guest-starring Elsa Bloodstone, Venom, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Hercules, Werewolf By Night, and a legion of significant others! Then, it's an Infinity tie-in like none other...because this one's got dancing! With Thanos' hordes invading Earth, the Fearless Defenders live up to their name! And when a gifted young woman discovers she has terrifying powers, will this new hero join the ranks of the Defenders?

So as long-time readers of this blog can probably guess, I picked up Fearless Defenders (on Marvel Unlimited) because it featured female superheroes.  And I was not disappointed. The story starts with Misty Knight retrieving an archaeological artefact for Dr Annabelle Riggs, which sets of some Vikings rising from the dead at Annabelle's dig and summons Valkyrie to deal with them. In the course of events the three of them (well, mainly Valkyrie) are tasked with recruiting Shieldmaidens to fight the impending threat of Doom Maidens (who are basically evil ex-Shieldmaidens).

Misty has a tendency to just hire superheroes as needed (just about all our favourite heroines make a guest appearance) but Valkyrie wants to find the right people and kind of procrastinates. Annabelle, the geeky, unpowered, lesbian scientist was my favourite character (to no one's surprise) and her story arcs were the most compelling.

I don't want to talk too much about the specifics of Volume 2, because of spoilers, but I do want to mention one hilarious incident. The main characters' menfolk try to have an intervention to stop them doing dangerous superhero stuff. We get to laugh at their manpain. (But also, why do the female superheroes always have annoying boyfriends? The male superheroes either have irrelevant or better-than-them girlfriends. Where is the justice?)

The only story thing I didn't like about this run was one issue of the Ultron event tie in (I believe it was the #4 with an Ultron head on the cover). It made absolutely zero sense in a Fearless Defenders context. I have no idea what happened (Ares had Thor's hammer?) or why, but turns out it was completely irrelevant to the main story (shocking for a comic event, I know). I only read it because that's what clicking "next" on Marvel Unlimited lead me to, and it didn't add anything. Feel free to skip. The Infinity War tie-in, on the other hand, was much more sensible, relevant to the rest of the plot and brought in a permanent new character. So that was nice at least.

The other thing I didn't like was some of the art. Issue #7 had a gorgeous one-off artist, but other than that... All the armour had ridiculous boob plates (Valkyrie's was upgraded to more sensible around issue #8ish at least) and there were more butt/boob/crotch shots than necessary (the requisite number generally being zero, for the record). The supervillains, especially, seemed to have a tendency for the kind of costumes in no way designed to keep their boobs covered. Why? Well we know why, but it would be nice if it stopped. Overall, though, this aspect of the art really could have been MUCH worse, so I suppose that's something?

Anyway, if you want to read about ladies kicking arse, than I definitely recommend Fearless Defenders. The series is fun and made me laugh. (I was a particular fan of the recaps at the start of each issue.) It's only a short run before it got cancelled, but I'm hoping we'll see some of the characters elsewhere (I've already found some of the elsewheres, so stand-by).

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2013–2014, Marvel
Series: Fearless Defenders, entire run, featuring issues #1-12 (but there are two #4 just to confuse us because comic events are silly)
Format read: Digital
Source: Marvel Unlimited

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