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Chain Reactions | The Fearless Defenders #1

The Marvel NOW! roll-out continued this week with the release of The Fearless Defenders #1, a new take on the “non-team” concept that spins out of last year’s The Fearless miniseries. Like that series, Fearless Defenders is written by Cullen Bunn (of The Sixth Gun and Wolverine fame), who is joined by artist Will Sliney and colorist Veronica Gandini.

Readers of The Fearless will remember that it ended with Valkyrie, that book’s star, deciding to recruit a new group of Valkyrior on Earth. Her first recruit is Misty Knight, formerly of Heroes for Hire, who knows a thing or two about recruiting heroes herself. Is it a match made in Valhalla? Here are a few opinions from around the web:

Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “The ‘how’ of those characters teaming up is the charm of this comic book, leading to a most unlikely and sometimes comical pairing of two long-time favorite Marvel Comics’ ladies, thanks to Cullen Bunn. Unintimidated by the immortal aspect of Valkyrie, Bunn uses that character as the reader’s introduction to this new series, providing caption boxes filled with her thoughts and to open and close the issue. Bunn’s method for bringing the characters together is standard-issue comic book threat, but it works with these characters and this situation, opening the door wide for continued shared adventures. I’m certain those adventures will lead to the gathering of more allies as the heroines’ journey progresses. Bunn seems quite comfortable writing both of the leads and a third ally in ‘Fearless Defenders’ #1.” (3/5)

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “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’.”

Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass: “For a first issue it was pretty damn good. Writer Cullen Bunn gives the book a fast and purposeful pace. The set-up features an ass kicking Misty Knight on a ship. We then move to a archaelogy dig headed up by Misty’s client Dr. Annabelle Riggs. I like who Bunn name checked for her influence avoiding the easy Lara Croft comparison. In fact, like her influence, Riggs quickly sees the impact of artifacts gone wrong. Which delivers to the book in all her glory Valkyrie. The interaction between the three women, and in particular Misty and Valkyrie, is a delight with at least one page seemingly ready to be posted and discussed repeatedly on Tumblr.”

Melissa Grey, IGN: “Veronica Gandini’s colors are slick and sophisticated and while Will Sliney’s art is technically proficient for the most part, it does occasionally fall into cheesecake territory, with more than its fair share of bizarrely contorted spines and overly prominent T & A. The prevalence of back-breaking hypersexual poses – Misty Knight is a frequent victim of anatomical impossibility – is disappointing considering how well-written and thoroughly badass Bunn’s ladies are. The women of Fearless Defenders deserve better. But if one can look past the impossibly protruding chests and mind-bogglingly rotund derrieres, this a series not to be missed.”

Jessica Boyd, Comicosity: “What is fun and refreshing about Sliney’s artwork, besides the great zombie Vikings (did I mention there are zombie Vikings!) is his attention to the character faces. Each lead has her own look and personality. Valkyrie, Misty & Annabelle do not all look like the same character with a different paint job. The shape of their heads, tiny details and their mouth are all unique to them, reproduced in multiple panels. That is something that is probably not seen enough in female-heavy comics. Other publishers, with several female characters in one book, can often change the color and style of hair and skin tone and call each woman a different name; however, the face is still the same. In this book, Sliney has given each character her own personality that can been seen on each page, which is just engrossing.” (9.5/10)

Matt Sargeson, Weekly Comic Book Review: “Sounds fun right (or at least a good basis for it)? But that fun is limited by a prohibitive level of restraint employed by Cullen Bunn. Misty is sassy, but only just, and doesn’t manage to stray into that golden ‘likeable smart-ass’ territory; Valkyrie is too haughty or po-faced to offer much in the way of amused detachment; tag-along Dr Riggs comes across as kinda annoying, seemingly placed here to give the book it’s one really “scandalous” moment (I’ll let you find that one yourself) and to nonchalantly propel the story forward. I’ve read the comic a few times now and it definitely has an air of the pedestrian despite the various fantastical elements it puts into play – not something I’ve come to expect from Bunn.” (Grade: C)

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