This book started out, to me at least, so strong. As a six issue series, I wasnít really expecting Casey to do much more than entertain. In the first bit of this book, thatís exactly what he did. There we were at issue #1 and I was already super-psyched for whatever was going to happen to this team of heroes that most donít care about; Nighthawk, Colossus, She-Hulk and Blazing Skull.
The first issue of The Last Defenders was absolutely hilarious. It had no lofty goals of becoming the next big thing in comics, noÖThe Last Defenders was a book that had no goal other than to entertain. Witty banter, ludicrous situations, you name it. Hell, the team was based out of something like Hoboken, NJ. And donít even get me started on Blazing Skull, I mean, the crap this guy said. Most of it was absolute gold. Gold, Jerry. Gold!
But then came the second issue, sloppy and practically flailing over itself. The third was worse. Here we were, at the top of the pile of entertaining books, and now look at usÖ The Last Defenders is only four issues in and, my god -- itís all over the place.
To be fair, the art is almost cleverly stylistic in this issue. Teeming with gigantic jaw lines, the polished work has a set of characters that stand out amongst the standard fare of superhero colors and backdrops. Muniz wonít impress the pants off of you, but the book wonít look bad at any point either. Like I said, though, the characters do feel a bit stylized, and that isnít a bad thing in this one. Itís a welcome distraction from all the ridiculous plot points.
The cast seems to be coming in and out of the book through a revolving door. Damnit, I really liked Blazing Skull. Havenít seen him since like the third page of the second issue. Now I have to sit around and read about Nighthawk. Sure, okay, thatís fair. But what Casey doesnít seem to realize about all of this is that heís only got six issues to ensnare and impress. Iím not ensnared. Iím not impressed. You want to get me to actually care about some characters in a simple six issues, well, stick with them! Quit throwing me to the wife of the Son of Satan, I donít care. I donít care what Tony Stark feels like in this book. No. I care what Kyle Richmond, Nighthawk, thinks about Tony Stark. If the only character that carries a sense of permanence in this six issue mini is Nighthawk, then focus on him.
What do we get out of this mess? Well, there was a moment when I forgot about all of the mediocrity oozing out of this sucker. It was a moment when I sat back and thought, "Well, okay, now weíre getting somewhere." Towards the end of this issue, as Nighthawk is being reprimanded by Tony, Casey shows some well thought out work. Nighthawk tells Tony Stark that he has taken all of the purity out of being a superhero. He complains that Tony has somehow turned it into a bureaucratic mess. Then he even slams Tony by bringing up good olí Cap. This is the one moment that almost all readers will feel is the shining point of the issue. It makes it all seem okay.
But Hell, the way this is going, by the sixth issue Iíll wish that the book sold as a pamphlet with only Nighthawkís dialogue with Tony Stark. How far weíve fallenÖ
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