It’s easy to dismiss The Defenders as a shameless cash-in on the upcoming Netflix series. And there’s no denying that Marvel is trying to bank on the hype for that show by suddenly introducing a Defenders roster that includes Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. But for anyone who’s been following Brian Bendis’ Marvel career, the appeal with this series is less its MCU-friendly trappings and more the opportunity to see him reconnect with characters he helped shape over the past 15 years. The fact that artist David Marquez is along for the ride is just one more selling point.
The new series opens in the immediate aftermath of the FCBD story (meaning readers should absolutely start there). Having established that Willis Stryker is back in the Marvel Universe and bent on taking revenge on our four heroes, Bendis and Marquez immediately dive into the fledgling team’s response. It’s a welcome change to see Bendis kick off a new series on such a relatively fast-paced note, especially given the pacing problems that have been plaguing his Iron Man comics of late. There’s a clear urgency to the conflict as Luke and his friends find themselves on the defensive. Much like the early issues of New Avengers, the book wastes little time establishing why these four are coming together and focuses more on the need for this team to exist in the first place.