Essential Defenders—Volume 1

essential defenders volume 1 cover trade paperback
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Classic weird Marvel off-beat team

The lead in issues to the team's formation are a bit disjointed

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Doctor Strange (Volume 1)/Sub-Mariner (Volume 1)/Incredible Hulk (Volume 2)/Marvel Feature(Volume 1)/Defenders (Volume 1)/Avengers (Volume 1)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Roy Thomas/Steve Englehart/Len Wein

Artist:   Gene Colan/Sal Buscema/Marie Severin/ Ross Adru/Don Heck/Herb Trimpe/Bob Brown

# of Issues:  26

Release Date:   2005


Defender (1) #1

Reprints Doctor Strange (1) #183, Sub-Mariner (1) #22, 34-35, Incredible Hulk (2) #126, Marvel Feature (1) #1-3, Defenders (1) #1-14, and Avengers (1) #115-118 (November 1969-July 1974). The Defenders are a team that isn’t a team. Called together when the world is in need Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor, Valkyrie, the Silver Surfer, and others spring into action. The battle for peace sometimes leads the Defenders into conflict with others like the Avengers with the fate of the world in the middle.

Written by Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, and Len Wein, Essential Defenders—Volume 1 collects the earliest Defenders stories and shows how the initial team-up occurred. Also collected in this volume is the Avengers/Defenders War which is told in Avengers (1) #115-118 and Defenders (1) #8-11 (September 1973-December 1973). The Defenders remained a relatively popular second tier title and ran until Defenders (1) #152 (February 1986) (by then it was also called New Defenders). Like all Marvel Essentials, the reprints are presented in black-and-white on a lower grade paper but provide more story for the price.

The Defenders is an interesting team and despite the concept of “the team that isn’t a team” , they’re a team. They get together, fight crime together, and save the world together. The lead-up to the first official Defenders appearance is presented in Doctor Strange (1) #183 (November 1969), Sub-Mariner (1) #22 (February 1970), followed by Incredible Hulk (2) #126 (April 1970), and then back to Sub-Mariner (1) #34-35 (February 1971-March 1971) and mostly involves their earliest interactions and team-ups. The Defenders first finally appeared in Marvel Feature (1) #1 (December 1971) where they ran for three issues until graduating into their own title with Defenders (1) #1 (August 1972).


Defenders (1) #9

I always liked the Defenders because they were such a mishmash team. The Defenders were pretty much popular characters that Marvel couldn’t figure out how to incorporate into their more standard teams, but also needed a little boost for their own titles by being in a team book. As the series progressed, the teams got weirder and weirder. This early teaming of heroes is odd but nothing compared to the final issues of the series. Still, The Defenders feels modern enough that it feels entirely different from early issues of more popular team books like The Avengers.

The big crossover occurring in this book is the Avengers/Defenders War which begins at the end of Defenders (1) #8 and runs through issue #10 and runs through The Avengers (1) #115-118. It has the Avengers pitted against the Defenders by Loki and Dormammu in a race to collect the pieces of the Evil Eye. It is rather typical superhero vs. superhero but it was a great way to drive people to new Defenders title.

Essential Defenders—Volume 1 is a fun collection and definitely worth checking out for fans of any of the lead characters. It has a lot of variety to the stories and I love most of the classic comic book artists involved in bring the story to life. Stick with the Essential Defenders line for one of the strangest teams in Marvel’s prime.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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