Let me just emphasize that I don’t give a rat’s behind about Fear Itself. It’s just another Big Stupid Event , but some writers and artists are creating side-effects — either explorations of newer characters worthy of attention such as those in Youth in Revolt or reunifications of old teams such as The Defenders. The Deep fosters the latter.
Faced with a super-charged Namor Revenge Squad consisting of a hammer-accessorized Atuma, Tyrak, Tiger Shark and a sea sorceress, the Imperious Rex seeks allies in Dr. Strange, Loa and Lyra, daughter of Hulk and Thundra. The Silver Surfer shows up late for the party, but he brings the favors. Before you know it, the Defenders are hip-deep in monstrous Lovecraftian demons from the deep.
Cullen Bunn writes smart and fun. He doesn’t talk down to his audience. At one point, a demon attempts to skewer Dr. Strange. Judging by the scream, the beast succeeds in at least hacking off a good slice, but if these monsters are venomous why is Dr. Strange still breathing? Simple. Magic. Physician heal thyself. Though no longer the Sorceror Supreme, Dr. Strange still can work the mojo, and I’ve heard him say when he wore the cape and Eye of Amagotto that healing spells are simple. So, it’s perfectly reasonable to deduce that he used one to mend his flesh. No need to spell it out. Bunn leaves the grammar to the reader.
Stephen isn’t the only magic-user amongst the team. Loa, a character that’s new to me, has studied The Necronomicon. She’s apparently an Atlantean that has used potions to vacation on the surfaceworld. So, she’s not only smart, but she has the strength of an Atlantean, perhaps not as much as Namor, but of somebody who has evolved in the pressures of the ocean. In addition, she’s full of spunk. She faces the demons like a professional, and the team quickly take a shine to her. Lyra in fact spares a moment to share a little whisper in Loa’s ear to tease the girl about Dr. Strange’s interest. It’s a terrific little instance of character interaction, and the look Garbett, Meikis and John Rauch bestow to Loa’s face is absolutely hilarious.
Then we come to the Silver Surfer. Man, what an improvement. I have always hated the Silver Surfer. The thing I remember the most about the Surfer is that he invariably dropped down to his knees to deliver a soliloquy about Zenn-La and his beloved Shalla-Bal in every adventure he participated in. Well, not here. In The Deep, the Surfer’s blasting with the power cosmic, rescuing and riding his teammates on his surfboard and actually hitting the giant monsters with that board. That’s so unexpected, and the kind of outlandish strategem that makes me grin from ear to ear.
The Deep is about the Defenders reuniting, saving humanity and kicking monster ass. Bunn interlaces rich characterization and interactive dynamics into an elegant plot while the art team make each strike against the nightmarish creatures potent and awesome. This is a team that I could read about forever.