In the universe before this one, five Defenders face a threat both familiar and unknown. Your Major Spoilers review of Defenders #2 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Javier Rodriguez/Marcos Martin
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Wil Moss & Sarah Brunstad
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 8, 2021
Previously in Defenders: The Defenders find themselves in the birthplace of Galactus… but the Devourer is not the man they remember.
And are you ready for the MOTHER of Galactus?
STRANGE’S MOST DANGEROUS GAMBIT
Having used wild magic to gather a new team of Defenders, Doctor Strange finds himself and his new friends in the Sixth Universe, the universe that existed before the current iteration of reality. Arriving in the middle of an attack of The Devourer (a creature who serves the same purpose in this world as Galactus does in his own) Strange is saved by Taaia, a warrior women and Scienceer who who takes the team back to her base. That’s where The Silver Surfer meets her child, Galen, the infant version of the creature who transformed him into a herald. As the Surfer nears the child’s techno-crib, The Masked Raider arrives, pulling a gun on him and ordering The Surfer to stand down. Norrin seems amused for a moment, then picks up the child, who is entranced by his cosmic light show. “I cannot change what created me, Raider,” intones the man from Zenn-La, but at least he can give the baby a gift, a tiny bit of knowledge of what is to come. The new Devourer attacks again, and they find that his herald is Carlo Zota, the man whom they’ve been tracking! It’s an all-out herald-versus-herald battle royale!
THE LOST HISTORY OF THE MASKED RAIDER
As Defenders #2 ends, the team is down one member and perhaps headed to another reality, the universe before the universe before… or something. Either way, Ewing is building on concepts that he’s been playing with for nearly a decade now, and it makes for a really fascinating bit of world-building for me. The Masked Raider’s identity is teased when Silver Surfer tells him that he knows who is under the mask, and that The Raider is actually capable of harming him with his power cosmic, while Cloud gets their first panel-time in a couple of decades. (And it’s pretty awesome.) Even Betty “The Harpy” Banner is handled well, especially when it comes to Rodriguez’s art. I especially appreciate the Kirby-esque designs of Taa, seeing as how it’s where Galactus came from, and a brief moment’s flirtation between Doctor Strange and Galactus’ mom is both wonderful and kind of horrifying all at once. Best of all, the battle between heralds is epically cosmic, followed by the Defenders and Taaia crashing back through time in gorgeous four-color glory. It’s work that honors Kirby while doing it’s own thing, and I really like that.
BOTTOM LINE: SORRY THAT I MISSED ISSUE #1
There are a few writers that I try to stay up to date with, and Al Ewing is one of them for his inventive takes that don’t feel like reboots. Defenders #2 is a perfect example of why, combining a story full of out-of-control magic and big splashy concepts with clean, beautiful art, and showing us the man inside the silver shell of the Surfer, all the while quietly reconfiguring the Marvel Universe, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. Honestly, I should have caught #1 and made sure everyone knew how good this book is, but I suppose we’re better late to the party than missing it entirely.
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When you play with Kirby concepts, you need to bring it, and this issue does so in both art and story. It's really good.