Fearless Defenders writer Cullen Bunn confirmed on Tumblr what many fans of the series feared when the book didn’t show up in Marvel’s January solicitations — December’s #12 is indeed the final issue of the series.
“I can’t really describe how much this book… and these characters… meant to me,” Bunn said in his post. “THE DEFENDERS have always been special for me. I just connected with the non-team and I’ve always wanted to write them. (In fact, I think it is common knowledge that one of my first Marvel minis, FEAR ITSELF: THE DEEP was originally titled FEAR ITSELF: THE DEFENDERS.) Over the past couple of years, I’ve come to love Valkyrie as more than just a really bad ass girl with a sword. And this book was the first concept I brought to Marvel… or at least the first concept I brought to them that they jumped on.”
The book spun out of another Valkyrie-starring and Bunn-written miniseries: Fear Itself: The Fearless, which ended with Valkyrie deciding to recruit a new group of Valkyrior on Earth. Her first recruit was Misty Knight, formerly of Heroes for Hire, who knows a thing or two about recruiting heroes herself. Featuring art by Will Sliney, the comic kept the Defenders “non-team” concept and featured a ton of guest stars from around the Marvel Universe, with New Mutant Dani Moonstar, Elsa Bloodstone, Hippolyta and a new character, Annabelle Riggs, serving as series regulars. Bunn and Sliney really hit home with a lot of fans when Riggs was supposedly killed off at the end of the first storyline. It also featured some pretty awesome covers.
“And the fans! The reaction was amazing,” Bunn said. “There might not have been many of you, but those of you who read the book, loved it. I was overwhelmed by the response, and I’ll carry the love the fans felt for this book with me for the rest of my days. Thank you all so much! You made it all worthwhile! When we announced this book, many people said it wouldn’t last 6 issues. Female characters! The DEFENDERS title! Obscure characters! Well, I’m happy to say we lapped those expectations. Thirteen issues (if you count the Age of Ultron tie-in, which I do.) Part of the reason the book lasted as long as it did is the loyal core fan base.”
Sliney added on his blog: “Fearless Defenders will be looked back upon in ten years as so many peoples first and favourite book. I think it opened up a world of comics to a lot of people and the proof was in how many fans told me last weekend that it was their first ever comic book. I have never met more loyal, and genuinely nice people in the fans that came by last week, the huge numbers that turned out for the many signings over the year and of course the people that queued for hours for the books launch in Dublin.”
Bunn added that he’ll be doing several postmortem interviews on the book’s demise, which he says will “give you some ideas of where we might have gone with the title.”
Here’s the solicitation text for what will be the series’ final issue:
FEARLESS DEFENDERS #12
CULLEN BUNN (W)
WILL SLINEY (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
• The Defenders make a stand against the apocalyptic Doom Maidens! Hopefully some of the team survives!
• Valkyrie and Annabelle have a complicated relationship… and it’s only going to become even more perplexing and problematic as of this issue!
• A new (cosmically awesome) character joins the team! And you’ll never expect this addition to the cast!
• Caroline LeFay comes face to face with one of her estranged parents!
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