Matt Fraction’s “Defenders” is generally a strong book, but this issue sits in that unfortunate gray zone that’s leading up to interesting things, without getting to be interesting itself.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this comic book, but it feels like the middle part you have to get through to get to the exciting final showdown. It’s heavy on exposition with long explanations about how our heroes can solve the problem they face. There are a few nice character moments, like Dr. Strange’s discovery of Wong’s body, and the “welcome back” kiss Betty plants on a much surprised Silver Surfer, but on the whole there’s just not much here. Of course, because it’s Fraction, there are at least a few humorous moments, but in general it’s not as fun or as emotionally investing as previous issues.
Mirco Pierfederici is a strong artist and his storytelling is always easy to follow, but there are some weaknesses. While Pierfederici excels in the scene with Dr. Strange and Wong, and in his graphic interpretation of where Dr. Strange sends Wong (and promises to join him shortly), he drops the ball on the kiss between Betty and Silver Surfer. The kiss (and reunion) lacks visual passion or comedy, either of which could have worked within the scene, but the absence of both makes it feel cold and uneventful.
Though Pierfederici has a large and complicated cast to deal with and he handles most well, his portrayal of Silver Surfer feels off, and there are places throughout where panels look a little rushed, giving the work a feeling of inconsistency. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are on the most part solid and some of his flashbacks and alternate realities, bathed in monochromatic tones, are particularly nice, but like Pierfederici’s art, there are some frustrating inconsistencies in the quality.
Matt Fraction’s “Defenders” has been a good book, and though the art has been solid regardless of the artist on board, the rotating artists does give the book an inconsistency tonally that’s disappointing. A book about these A-Listers that tumbles through time, space and alternate dimensions should just feel more fun than this issue. Hopefully we can get back to that soon.