REVIEW: Fearless Defenders #12 (of 12)

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I’ve been a fan of the Defenders all the way back to the days when The Hulk hung out at Doctor Strange’s Sanctorum and ate nothing but beans, while Norrin Radd hovered and looked melancholy.  One thing I’ve learned since that series ended is that the Defenders will continue to rise over and over again, and probably get cancelled within 15 issues.  Still, if I had a choice of new teams every couple of years and no Defenders at all, I’ll just have to soldier on and deal with repeated heartbreak when things go sour.

It’s kind of like BEING a Defender, now that I think of it.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Loving this art.
Interesting pacing and a nice denouement.


Cons

The series is over.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

READER RATING!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)


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Defenders12CoverFEARLESS DEFENDERS #12
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Will Sliney
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Ellie Pyle
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Fearless Defenders:  The Valkyrie, Brunhilde of Asgard has been tasked by the All-Mother to gather a team of shield maidens to protect the natural world against nebulous bad stuffery.  Teaming up with Misty Knight, she slowly accumulated agents including Doctor Strange’s former paramour Clea, Dani Moonstar of the New Mutants, Hippolyta of Olympus, Elsa Bloodstone and more.  Of course, she’s also found her essence chained to a human archaeologist, and she’s more than a little bit ticked off about that.  Things are about to hit the rotating blades, but hopefully this will serve as the send-off the team deserves.

THE BIG FIGHTY-FIGHTY.

Ironically, it wasn’t all that long ago that I said goodbye to the previous volume of Defenders, and when this book kicked off, I was leery of it.  Not only did it spin out of ‘Fear Itself’ (a story that had a nice spine of menace but ended up being waaaay too out of control and lasting waaaay too long), but it didn’t seem to have enough of what my brain considers “Real Defenders” in it.  The concept grew on me, though, and this issue’s confrontation with Caroline LeFay and her Doom Maidens is something I’ve been looking forward to.  Interestingly, the issue beings with Misty and company picking up a new Defender, a woman named Frances who seems oddly familiar.  The mystery about who she is quickly overtaken by the fighty-fighty, and it is pretty visually phenomenal.  I particularly like the fact that LeFay’s forces consist mostly of existing villainous characters, including that Erik Larsen Spider-villain with the glass-topped head, and Sliney’s art is dynamic as heck, delivering on the premise of a big magical superhero battle.

RATHER LIKING THIS ENSEMBLE, WHICH MAKES ME VERY SAD…

There’s some nice dialogue throughout the battle (Dani Moonstar apparently won some arrows off Hawkeye in a bet), but when Annabelle tries to call the Valkyrie to join in the combat, she finds her other half unwilling to return.  Their conflict gets a little bit of short shrift (presumably because of the cancellation notice), but she eventually joins with her sisters to take down LeFay’s forces and her plan, but things turn sour when the villain steps into her own magical portal and releases a storm of cosmic magical energy that will destroy them all…

…until Frances steps forward, and reveals that her friends call her “Frankie”.  As in, Frankie Raye, the former herald of Galactus known as Nova.  “Did I just save the world?”, asks the latest Defender, as the full team of shield-maidens is assembled in triumph, just in time for the book to end (with a pretty startling final page revelation that needs to be followed up on somewhere.)

THE BOTTOM LINE: HOPE THIS PLOT POINT IS PICKED UP SOMEWHERE…

As much as I’m an old hand at having comic books cancelled out from under me, and even having Defenders comics cancelled out from under me, it’s a real shame that Fearless Defenders couldn’t get at least another few issues out of what was a pretty interesting premise.  Though the book lacked a big name like Wolverine or Deadpool, the cast was quirky, interesting and the all-female ensemble felt less pandering than the similar all-female X-Men team.  Fearless Defenders #12 feels a bit abrupt, but brings together a fun cast, and wraps things up the best they can given the circumstances, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ll see you next year when they relaunch Defenders again with The Texas Twister, Cloak and Dagger…

Rating: ★★★½☆