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Essential Defenders, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials) Paperback – December 20, 2006
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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Get ready for another 500+ pages of non-stop non-team action! Essential Defenders vol. 2 collects 16 more issues of The Defenders, plus five crossover issues, four giant-size stories, and a Marvel Treasury featuring Howard the Duck. Beginning with a throwaway issue of Giant-Size Defenders 1 (which is mostly reprints anyway), the real Defenders arc starts in issue 15, with the now-settled lineup of Dr. Strange, Valkyrie (except when she's off in search of her identity), Nighthawk, and (usually) Hulk (Silver Surfer being completely gone and the Sub-Mariner almost completely). They face Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in their quest to create the ultimate mutant; the Wrecking Crew with the help of Luke Cage, Power Man; and the Sons of the Serpent in an all-out war that swells the non-team roster as never before.
Particularly welcome are the Giant-Size issues, which feature a meeting with the Son of Satan, a confrontation alongside Daredevil with the games-playing Grandmaster, a development in Nighthawk's personal life that leads to a meeting with Yellowjacket and then a faceoff with the Squadron Sinister, and a meeting with the super-cool Guardians of the Galaxy that brings the Defenders to the 30th century to free the human race from the clutches of the Badoon. This 1974-76 run of Defenders was mostly written by Len Wein and Steve Gerber, with the bulk of the pencils by Sal Buscema, and this edition, like all of Marvel's Essentials, is printed in black and white. --David Horiuchi
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Essential Defenders Volume 2 begins to really give the team its identity. In previous issues, it featured several heavy hitters (the Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Hulk and Dr. Strange), all of whom were not team players. Eventually, as this volume kicks in, the Silver Surfer and Sub-Mariner have gone their separate ways and have been replaced by Valkyrie and Nighthawk. It's these new heroes who help give the team more character. Also, this volume features the beginning of Steve Gerber's writing run; Gerber, also the creative force behind Howard the Duck, would give the Defenders a little bit of an off-beat quality (although, admittedly, this happens more in later issues).
In this set, the Defenders take on several big villains like Magneto, the Enchantress and the Badoon, along with lesser know villains like the Sons of the Serpent and Tapping Tommy. There are plenty of guest heroes too, including Son of Satan, Luke Cage, Spiderman, the Human Torch, the Thing, Daredevil and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
While it might be too much to say that this is really great writing and art, most of the material is at least good and it's all fun reading. For another look at what made Marvel entertaining thirty years ago, this is a good book to pick up.
Hulk, Nighthawk, Valkyrie and Dr. Strange comprise the roster, though "free agents" like Daredevil, Guardians of the Galaxy and Howard the Duck make appearances to provide quirky twists while ridding the universe of individuals with evil intent in their deeds.
The collection includes The Defenders #15-#30, Giant-Size Defenders #1-5, Two-in-One #6-#7, Team-up #33-#35 and Treasury edition #12. This team may have their issues in the "clubhouse," but they work as one when a tough task needs to be done.