Joe Quinones’ charming art on the cover for “Defenders” #10 hooked me, but he reeled me in with the addition of the classic Marvel headbox in the top left corner. Although the box is less than an inch wide, Quinones’ expressions on the faces of four Defenders takes a retro cover design element, smartens it up and offers a smile along the way.
While Quinones’ art is only on the cover, this issue has charm, wit and clean, fresh art all the way through. Jamie McKelvie gets an old-fashioned backgrounds assist from Mike Norton and the pair blend seamlessly enough that I had to go to the source to determine where the Mike Norton moments happen in this issue. That said, McKelvie is able to focus on the foreground elements and, more specifically, the entertainingly emotive characters. From depicting distraction in Nick Fury’s eye to the pensive expression on Red She-Hulk’s face, McKelvie sells the emotions of this book, but does so in a manner that doesn’t overthrow the bombastic outrageousness of a world gone horribly wrong. McKelvie adds to the tale with his storytelling and action sequences, including having Betty Banner pop a raven in the face or having the entire team run away from an army of ants.
Most of this outrageousness is owed to the legend of the Concordance Engine. That storyline has been going on for more than a few issues, but Matt Fraction livens it up each issue by throwing a new wrinkle into the fabric of reality. Last issue brought a 1960s Nick Fury onto the team and this issue adds Scott Lang to the mix. Even while adding characters, Fraction balances the cast, giving everyone a chance to shine. As he proved to readers a few issues back, nothing is sacred in the pages of “Defenders” and this issue proves that quite keenly.
This issue was a surprisingly good read and felt much lighter than one might expect from the inclusion of a Death Celestial. The long game being played in “Defenders” is going to end soon, but so long as there are stories like the one in “Defenders” #10, I’ll be tagging along, hoping to be as entertained as I was with the fantastical events of this issue.