Defenders #5 from Marvel Comics by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist David Marquez and colourist Justin Ponsor (with lettering by VC’s Cory Petit) is an incredibly smart book that immediately pulls off something the Netflix Defenders series’ all pulled – what seemed like an ending of the story last week was not really the end, and this issue shows that the first arc is far from truly over.
In fact, this links to a pretty smart thing that Bendis has done with the series as a whole: he’s captured the feel and tone of the Netflix series’ and transplanted and adapted them to work for the comics. To be fair, it’s something we know he’s good at, with his Guardians of the Galaxy run featuring takes on the characters that felt more like how we know them from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
That is by no means a slight on Bendis’ skills as a writer. Rather, that ear for tone and ability to adapt it is what makes this series work so well so far. Reading this issue, and each issue so far, has felt very much like watching one of the shows, but with the added benefit of no budget restricting the action and superpowers. And in an industry that desperately wants to attract new readers to the actual comics, that’s not a bad thing at all.
It’s also worth noting that Bendis has even mastered the skill with Defenders, as while they are recogniseably like the Netflix Defenders (except Iron Fist who is not interminably annoying and irritating in the comic, thank god), they also feel not out of place from the characters’ characterisations in the comics.
All of this is of course wrapped up in the artwork of Marquez and Ponsor, which frankly is some of the best artwork on any book coming out from Marvel right now. Marquez is honestly putting out the work of his career, and it makes every page a joy to behold. The level of detail and characterisation in even a talking heads scene is really quite wonderful, and astonishing in a monthly comic.
All in all, Defenders #5 continues the pace and tone of this great new series, and it shows no signs of slowing down yet.
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