Defenders #10
DEFENDERS #10 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, and Justin Ponsor
DEFENDERS #10 ends Brian Michael Bendis' run on an incredible high note. Despite a minor lack of cohesiveness, the plot, characterization, and art still make this series one of the best in modern comics.
97 %
A Good End
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Brian Michael Bendis’ long career at Marvel Comics is coming to a close. This may seem like old news, but for fans of his recent DEFENDERS series, this loss hits us hard. In DEFENDERS, Bendis has given us a story filled with high-octane superhero action balanced with intrinsically human moments. The plot and characterization throughout have consistently astounded. With the arrival of DEFENDERS #10, we have to face facts. Our favorite new series is over, long before its time. Thankfully, it goes out in utter style.

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After the defeat of Diamondback in DEFENDERS #9, the Defenders set about rebuilding their lives and offices. Everything seems to be in order, with Heroes for Hire back in business and New York safe once again. However, the arrival of Parker Robbins (aka the Hood) derails their calm period. In his attempt to fill the void left by both Wilson Fisk and Diamondback, the Hood has gathered together a cavalcade of wannabe Kingpins. With the promise of shared power, can Robbins actually succeed where his predecessors failed?

The End Of An Era

defenders #10
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.

DEFENDERS #10 had a high bar to reach for. For this series, filled with so many powerful moments and kick-ass sequences, every issue needs to try a little bit harder to surpass the previous one. With this issue, I didn’t necessarily feel like it succeeded. Don’t get me wrong. The storytelling and the overall plot still act as a benchmark for the quality I want from the rest of Marvel’s line. In fact, this issue has some incredible moments that, on their own, outshine a lot of modern comic books. Take, for example, the first confrontation between the Hood and the Defenders. There is so much personality in this incredible action sequence. That final two-page spread gave me goosebumps.

My point is that, despite these powerful individual moments, the whole didn’t quite measure up. Perhaps I’m simply bitter about this series’ end, but I thought DEFENDERS #10 needed just a few more pages. I loved the climactic moment, but it doesn’t tie together this wonderful plot. We never get to see the climactic battle with the Hood and, as such, we’re left wanting just that little bit more. A cliffhanger works well if the story stands to continue. However, as an ending, I wanted to see the final defeat of the Hood’s new cabal.

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The Proof In The Personality

Defenders #10
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.

With that said, I do think that the characterization in DEFENDERS #10 shows Bendis at his absolute best. The only primary new addition to the cast is Parker Robbins. His first appearance, in talks with Wilson Fisk, is filled with some amazing dialogue. There haven’t been many lengthy villain monologues in this particular series. For this more realistic title, they just wouldn’t have made sense. So when Robbins has two different monologues in this issue, they work well. They are a reflection of his overblown ego, and they act as a means to differentiate Robbins’ from the series’ other villains.

On the flip side, the Defenders themselves had a fantastic showing in this issue. For the first time in the series, they had a deep chemistry, which makes sense. After all, they have been working together for ten issues now. They have a great ebb and flow, which works itself nicely into their dialogue. Let’s be honest here, said dialogue is also consistently funny. Seriously, putting Jessica Jones’ excessive cynicism next to Daredevil’s unyielding seriousness just works.

Ending on a High Note

Defenders #10
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.

David Marquez and Justin Ponsor have provided some of the most consistently astounding artwork in the medium today. There’s very little more I can say than that. Marquez’ pencils give this story its high-paced, realistic appeal. Not only that, but Marquez got to have a little fun in this issue by pulling in characters from all over the Marvel Universe. This allowed the entire creative team to play with longstanding DEFENDERS easter eggs from the original series. Seriously, Marquez had the opportunity to make Howard the Duck look badass. That’s the marking of a truly incredible artist.

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Meanwhile, Justin Ponsor absolutely nails the colors in this issue. The dichotomy between light and dark is essential to the storytelling in this series. The fact that the Defenders work day and night, and in some rather seedy locations, makes strong colors a necessity. Ponsor manages to create an atmosphere in DEFENDERS #10 that is both inviting at times, while obviously dangerous at others. It’s a treat to see the ways the color play works with each turning page.

Final Thoughts On DEFENDERS #10

It may seem funerary, but although we say goodbye to DEFENDERS with this installment, we do so with fireworks. While this issue wasn’t as strong as others in the series, it still gives readers an experience that trumps most others in the medium. With exceptional art and characterization, as well as some of the most fulfilling moments in comics, DEFENDERS #10 is a must-read.

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