By enlisting Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney for action depicted within the pages of the “Fearless Defenders” #1, Marvel NOW! has presented the publisher with the perfect opportunity to launch the long-anticipated follow-up to Bunn’s “The Fearless” miniseries from 2012. Sure, some readers have been eagerly awaiting this title since the twelfth issue of that series revealed that the Valkyrior would be replenished with beings from Midgard, but it’s likely more than a few readers come to this book simply enthused that Marvel NOW! has delivered more titles with a wider variety of concepts and characters. After all, how do you explain a book that stars Valkyrie and Misty Knight?
The “how” of those characters teaming up is the charm of this comic book, leading to a most unlikely and sometimes comical pairing of two long-time favorite Marvel Comics’ ladies, thanks to Cullen Bunn. Unintimidated by the immortal aspect of Valkyrie, Bunn uses that character as the reader’s introduction to this new series, providing caption boxes filled with her thoughts and to open and close the issue. Bunn’s method for bringing the characters together is standard-issue comic book threat, but it works with these characters and this situation, opening the door wide for continued shared adventures. I’m certain those adventures will lead to the gathering of more allies as the heroines’ journey progresses. Bunn seems quite comfortable writing both of the leads and a third ally in “Fearless Defenders” #1.
Two of the female characters in this comic share a kiss, which is just ill-timed and forced into the drama of the story, but in Bunn’s defense it is also the absolute quickest and most direct way to deliver information to the reader despite the sensationalist appearance of it all. I have no doubt that information could have been delivered differently and every bit as effectively, but more importantly, I’m not certain that it’s critical to the proceedings of the story as it stands. I’m certain more will be made of this moment in the near future, both from readers and fans as well as from the creators themselves, so I’m hopeful that it wasn’t simply controversial for controversy’s sake. For now, it’s just oddly jammed in to what is otherwise an enjoyable action adventure comic book.
Artist Will Sliney’s depiction of the kiss adds to the complication of the timing as it appears to be a rather passionate and deliberate moment instead of one filled with spontaneity and awkwardness. Sliney uses the figures’ body language (including a number of Misty Knight booty-pop poses) to communicate the story throughout the entire issue and that panel is no exception. Earlier pages in “Fearless Defenders” #1 seem more complete than the latter portions of this story, with more detailed backgrounds and stronger figure details. Misty Knight and Valkyrie are distinct and diverse, but other than those two there is one character that receives more than a handful of panels. Sliney brings a different style to Marvel NOW! and seems like a very nice fit, which I’m sure will be more obvious once he finds his groove. Colorist Veronica Gandini does a nice job enhancing Sliney’s art, but the halos and glows around the characters could be toned down a bit. They look nice, but those halos are a little intense the fourth and fifth times they occur in the same issue.
Overall, “Fearless Defenders” #1 offers a coincidental threat to bring Misty Knight and Valkyrie together, but that threat isn’t completely realized for readers to grasp the full level. There is a strong sense of mystery and adventure, with two no-nonsense characters ready to kick ass and take names.