Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pull List Review: Fearless Defenders #1

Though the action was plentiful and fun, I had a hard time latching onto the stars of this book. I wasn't too familiar with them ahead of time, and though this issue offers a pretty strong taste of their personalities, there wasn't enough background on them offered to get me fully invested. Not that I needed full origin stories, but I could have used more introduction than giving them each a caption with their name and a one-sentence description. Misty Knight is a character I've only seen in the occasional cameo role, and I was looking forward to getting a stronger sense of her as a person and hero here. Alas, by the end of this issue, all I've really seen of her are some badass fight moves coupled with not-so-badass snark. I liked her, but I wasn't impressed by her in any significant way, because I don't know what drives her, who she really is or why she lives the life she does. She could've been anyone with the same skill set and equipment, which is too bad, since she is one the book's main characters.
     I've had a bit more experience with Valkyrie, mostly in the pages of Secret Avengers, but she was similarly generic and one-note here. Again, other than whomping on some zombies and speaking in her Asgardian vernacular, she had very little to do and the reader was offered no insight into what makes her tick. The opening page almost gives us that, and the conclusion indicates that the larger plot being developed is going to be centered on her, so presumably we'll get deeper into her character later on. But without yet being clued into what, exactly, that larger plot is all about, I didn't have much reason to care about her, either. Like Misty, she was a powerful force of violence for the good guys who I enjoyed watching in action, I just didn't feel that strong a connection or motivation to follow her story.
     Lastly there is Annabelle Riggs who, near as I can tell, is a new character introduced in this issue. If that's the case, she gets the shortest straw, because we see very little of her and she does the least. Other than accidentally causing a problem that needs to be solved by Misty and Valkyrie, her role so far is to have limited knowledge of what is going on but not enough to help. Oh also she's attracted to Valkyrie now because they kiss once, which is fine and a thread I hope Cullen Bunn doesn't let dangle, but, as with everything else, there's too little of it here to fully hold my interest.
     There was no compelling reason to walk away from this title yet, nothing so awful or confusing that I felt like my time or money were being wasted. But there was nothing in the story to excite me for the next chapter, either. Will Sliney's art was not a great help, teetering on the edge of over-sexualizing the cast (Misty in particular) and never delivering any jaw-dropping visuals. It gets the job done, because Sliney can do large crowd fight scenes without losing clarity, and that entails most of what happened in the issue. He varies his zoom, his angle, and the fight choreography enough to keep the combat lively and fast-paced, so overall I imagine he'll be good for this title, which seems to be leaning pretty heavily toward the action side of the superhero story spectrum. So I can forgive, for now, the T&A in Sliney's work, but even if you look past that, it's not dazzling stuff. It tells the story well, and there was only one panel that threw me (when the dead first rise and attack the people working at the dig site, for a second I thought they were dancing), but there were no images that stood out to me or were especially gorgeous.
     I want to be won over by this cast soon, because all the other elements are in place for this to be a fantastic comicbook. Strong action, distinct character voices, the gradual assembling of a new team, undead Norse warriors, and a possible romantic storyline all come together to make an entertaining if underwhelming debut issue. Now if the cast can just hook me, I think we'll have something great.

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