Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today, not only to mourn the passing of two titles that were taken from us far too soon, but to honor the stories they told:
The Defenders (2012)
Title: The Defenders #12
Writer: Matt Fraction
Cover Art: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Penciller: Mirco Pierfederici
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Grim_Noir
The young upstart, The Defenders, with its ooky artwork and off-kilter panel design by Terry and Rachel Dodson complimented the audacious plotting of Matt Fraction. I would have thought that a story about Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Silver Surfer, Namor, Black Cat, Red She-Hulk and alt-reality Nick Fury trying to stop the end of the world by supernatural machines would have been a fun ride for a larger audience. It was Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets the Chthulhu mythos and it was a helluva ride. Everyone who misses the Marvel of the 70s and 80s really should’ve been reading Defenders. It was a book that spoke to people; literally, if you read the between-panel notes. (These notes are missing from the trades. Shame on you Marvel Collected Editions Department! Perhaps you could put out “Director’s Cut” hardbacks with the notations restored? Please?)
Title: Avengers Academy #39
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Cory Hamscher
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Grim_Noir
Then, there was The Initiative‘s cleverer progeny, Avengers Academy. I have written about Christos Gage’s Academy before and I have simply run out of superlatives for the wonderfulness of this title. Its iconoclastic refusal to take the plot in expected directions made me look forward to everyone of its biweekly releases. Gage steadfastly succeeded in writing a character-driven series at an event-driven company. The entire first year of Avengers Academy‘s run made me feel the same way about this team that I felt reading the first trade of Chris Claremont’s and John Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men run. The defiance and energy of puberty were captured perfectly, allowing these characters to make mistakes and grow from them. WHY WASN’T THIS BOOK EMBRACED AS THE NEXT TEEN TITANS OR X-MEN?!?! (Hell, it even had AVENGERS in its title!) I was especially impressed with how the symmetry in the finale of Veil’s storyline harkened back to the very first issue of the book.
There have been some reports of grave robbing and desecration of the corpses of these two titles: A new Defenders-For-Hire-style book and Avengers Arena. We can only hope the creative teams for the new books understand the legacies that have been entrusted to them. Avengers Arena appears (at first blush) to be the more egregious offender: The Avengers Academians have already faced and defeated Arcade once already. They should not be easily swayed or defeated by this villain. In fact, they should be treated like Spider-Man-level heroes facing Arcade for the second time and not like complete n00bs, or, worse yet, casual victims in a Friday The 13th movie.
It is always in the odd corners of the Marvel universe that I have found the best storytelling. Unfortunately, it appears that the Marvel NOW imperative is determined to sand down all that edginess. And we are all a little diminished for it.
We can take some comfort in the fact that nothing truly stays dead in comics. Spread the word about these two terrific comic books and give the collected editions as Holiday gifts. We look forward to the day when younger readers rediscover these gems and revive them in the future. Until then, we have our memories (and our trade paperbacks).
Tags: Arcade, Avengers, Avengers Academy, Avengers Arena, Black Cat, Chris Claremont, Chris Sotomayor, Christos Gage, Cory Hamscher, Dr. Strange, Friday The 13th, Grim_Noir, Iron Fist, John Byrne, Marvel Comics, Marvel Now, Matt Fraction, Mirco Pierfederici, Namor, Nick Fury, Red She Hulk, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Teen Titans, Terry and Rachel Dodson, The Defenders, The Fearless Defenders, The Initiative, Tom Grummett, uncanny x-men, VC's Clayton Cowles, VC's Joe Caramagna, Veil, Veronica Gandini