It’s been far, far too long since we reviewed an
Essential here. I hope to use the summer to catch up
on some overdue review requests, and the entire line
has been requested.

General Information

Title: Essential Defenders Vol. 1

Credited to: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart,
Len Wein, Gene
Colan, Ross Andru, Sal Buscema, Jack Abel, Marie
Severin, Bob Brown,
and Herb Trimpe

Original Publication Date: This is a 2005 compilation
of material
first published from 1969 to 1974.

ISBN: 0-7851-1547-1

Cover Price: $16.99 US, $27.25 Canadian

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca.
One of the customer comments on the Amazon.com page
sums the title up
nicely: “When the most horrible menace to Earth
appeared, you’d want
to call the Defenders, and you’d hope that they all
showed up.”

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

Dr. Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Valkyrie,
Silver Surfer, and
others hang out and defend the world from global
threats, though they
don’t actually consider themselves a team.

This collection includes:

  • Dr. Strange #183
  • Sub-Mariner #22, 34 and 35
  • Incredible Hulk #126
  • Marvel Feature #1-3
  • Defenders #1-14
  • Avengers #115-118

High Point

The Avengers/Defenders war storyline (included here in
its entirety)
was the best plotline.

Low Point

Xemnu the Titan was a lousy villain the first time he
appeared, and
they went and brought him back.

The Scores

This is odd for originality. The obvious
catalyst was the
success of the Avengers: they took some popular
characters, and mashed
them together to form a team. However, this is a
completely different
team dynamic than I’m used to, primarily because they
don’t consider
themselves a team. As the Sub-Mariner tells Valkyrie
(and everyone
else who asks to join the team): “The Defenders have
no ‘members.’ We
have only fought together for common causes. This is
not the
Avengers!” It was a writing challenge to bring the
characters
together each time, and the writers did it the best
way they could:
the entire team doesn’t always show up every time. I
give it 4 out of
6.

The artwork is a little erratic, having so
many different
artists as you have in a multiple-title compilation.
I give it 4 out
of 6.

The stories are the classic maturing Silver
Age we got in the
early seventies. Multiple issue stories become more
common,
villainous plots are still on the goofy side, and
aliens crop up less
often than they used to. This title has the “action
over character”
focus of the Avengers, rather than the opposite
balance found in the
Spider-Man titles of the time. I give it 4 out of 6.



The characterization, as I eluded to above,
is not as strong
as it could have been. Most of these characters had
solo titles that
served the introspective character study purposes.
This title was
about getting the most powerful characters in the
Marvel Universe all
in one place and having them smash stuff. Valkyrie had
her moments,
likely because she only existed here. I give it 3 out
of 6.

The emotional response is going to be
dictated by your
previous attachments to the characters, and how much
you like to see
them smash stuff. For me, that means a 4 out of 6.

The flow is surprisingly smooth, partly due
to brief “asides”
taken in one issue to set up a villain coming in a
future issue. The
recurring villains help tie things together
(particularly in the case
of the omegatron, which wasn’t really “defeated” in
the first place),
even though Xemnu wasn’t a very appealing villain the
first time. I
give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a fun collectin. If you go in
expecting a
bunch of really powerful characters smashing stuff
without expecting
much else, you’ll find it quite enjoyable. I give it
4 out of 6.

In total, Essential Defenders Vol. 1 receives
28 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

I’ve been getting well behind in my Essential reviews,
but I hope to
catch up by reviewing one volume every week or two.
(They get
published every three weeks or so.) The unreviewed
volumes
include:

  • Essential Captain America Vol. 1
  • Essential Captain America Vol. 2
  • Essential Conan Vol. 1
  • Essential Dr. Strange Vol. 2
  • Essential Hulk Vol. 3
  • Essential Iron Fist Vol. 1
  • Essential Luke Cage: Power Man Vol. 1
  • Essential Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1
  • Essential Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man
    Vol. 1
  • Essential Super-Villain Team Up Vol. 1
  • Essential Thor Vol. 2
  • Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2
  • Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3
  • Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 4

(We haven’t reviewed Essential Iron Man Vol.
2
yet, either,
but theangrymob will be reviewing that one.) If you
have any
preference as to the order these reviews come in,
speak up now. I
should also mention that Marvel has solicited but not
yet published
the following volumes:

  • Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 4 (due this
    month)
  • Essential Killraven Vol. 1 (due in July)
  • Essential Essential Daredevil Vol. 3 (due in
    August)
  • Essential X-Men Vol. 6 (also due in August)

Rumour has it that we should also expect the following
by the end of
the year:

  • Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1
  • Essential Spider-Man Vol. 7
  • Essential Werewolf by Night Vol. 1
  • Essential X-Factor Vol. 1

Again, now is the time to voice preferences.