Over on  Newsarama, Matt Fraction said, "Sometimes I think Defenders was doomed the minute the word Defenders was put on the cover."  I'm curious what other people think.  Is the Defenders a title doomed to fail or is it just that Matt Fraction's Defenders were doomed to fail?

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I would rather it had stuck to it's remit of Dr Strange, Hulk and Subby (with Val and Kirk). Adding a turnstile of superheroes over the years made it too similar to the Avengers - a D-list (as Randy says) Avengers. I think adding Iron Man would have confused it with the Avengers even more - Iron Man is an Avenger.

Of course, the comics companies wouldn't have printed Lee's dialogue by itself, either.  And from my point of view, I'd buy pictures drawn by Ditko and Kirby, and wouldn't look at prose written by Stan Lee for a microsecond.

George Poague said:

Re: The comment posted here that Kirby's pages amounted to a "complete screenplay."

Actually, what he turned in was more like a first draft. The "complete screenplay" didn't emerge until Lee added the captions, dialogue and characterization. There's a reason why companies don't publish uninked, unlettered pencils with the artist's notes scribbled in the margins. It's not a complete work.

Characterization and dialogue were not among Kirby's or Ditko's strengths. Their strengths were drawing and plotting. When they stopped working with Stan, they went back to creating characters who were one-dimensional archetypes of good and evil. I agree that the flawed, human hero owes more to Stan than to his artists. Without Stan to add a human dimension to their basic plots, Kirby and Ditko floundered.

Well, I didn't mean Iron Man specifically, but some other popular superhero like him.  Of course, the other Marvel A and B-listers were either on other teams or solo stars.

Dandy Forsdyke said:

I think adding Iron Man would have confused it with the Avengers even more - Iron Man is an Avenger.

No problem. I've said before I could see typically 'loner' superheroes like Daredevil or even Spider-Man as (short time) Defenders and (to contradict myself) I did enjoy Hawkeye in the book. Hawkeye always seemed like a loner even when he was in the Avengers.

Randy Jackson said:

Well, I didn't mean Iron Man specifically, but some other popular superhero like him.  Of course, the other Marvel A and B-listers were either on other teams or solo stars.

Dandy Forsdyke said:

I think adding Iron Man would have confused it with the Avengers even more - Iron Man is an Avenger.

No question that as the series went on and members came and went, there was a definite feeling of "D-List-itis".  While I could enjoy the likes of the Gargoyle, Nighthawk, Valkyrie and Hellcat, it's not surprising that many other readers quickly lost interest.

If some of the B-listers had been replaced with other B-Listers, perhaps the series would still be going on(IMO, the only A-list character in the Defenders was the Hulk). Maybe if Dr. Strange had been replaced by the likes of Iron Man or even a reformed super-villain like the Sandman, reader interest would have stayed high.

I don't know that "D list itis" killed the original Defenders book.  I'm not sure it wouldn't still be published today if not for the X-Factor stunt.  First it veered off its contrary hero, weirdness vibe, then it became an X book, then a redundant X book.  I can't think of a better way to kill a brand than that.

The last year or two weren't fun to read, either.  Peter Gillis was writing 4 different series at the same time around then, and all 4 of them seemed like depressing, gloomy "doom-watches". DOCTOR STRANGE committed suicide, half the cast of DEFENDERS got killed, and the entire cast of MICRONAUTS got killed.  What was that guy's problem?



George Poague said:

Re: The comment posted here that Kirby's pages amounted to a "complete screenplay."

Actually, what he turned in was more like a first draft. The "complete screenplay" didn't emerge until Lee added the captions, dialogue and characterization. There's a reason why companies don't publish uninked, unlettered pencils with the artist's notes scribbled in the margins. It's not a complete work.

Rather like captions and dialogue.

In a similar way, EMI never released the Beatles songs as instrumentals, leaving Penguin to publish the lyrics as a book of poetry.

Characterization and dialogue were not among Kirby's or Ditko's strengths. Their strengths were drawing and plotting. When they stopped working with Stan, they went back to creating characters who were one-dimensional archetypes of good and evil.

I disagree here. I do not see the following as 'one-dimensional archetypes of good and evil,' and this is just off the top of my head: Orion, Captain Victory, Kro, Johnny Cloud (or maybe Storm - which one is it who engages the Japanese soldier in hand-to-hand combat in 'Bushido'?).

I agree that the flawed, human hero owes more to Stan than to his artists. Without Stan to add a human dimension to their basic plots, Kirby and Ditko floundered.

Again, I disagree. I don't find Stan's characters to be flawed, human heroes - or, maybe, now I think of it, they are all the same flawed, human hero. It is more a case of without Stan adding his cornball humour/tragedy dimension to their basic plots, Kirby (and Ditko?)  flourished.

Stan Lee. Stan Lee. Stan Lee ...

This is like Groundhog Day.

In his defence Stan was writing - that is words in dialogue balloons and captions - on virtually the entire Marvel line at one point. He was also editing the line including all editorial content - bulletins, letter pages. Plus the art director and so on and so forth...

Give Stan Lee some credit. And if that isn't the Ironic statement of the year, I'm Irving Forbush!



Border Mutt said:

No question that as the series went on and members came and went, there was a definite feeling of "D-List-itis".  While I could enjoy the likes of the Gargoyle, Nighthawk, Valkyrie and Hellcat, it's not surprising that many other readers quickly lost interest.

If some of the B-listers had been replaced with other B-Listers, perhaps the series would still be going on(IMO, the only A-list character in the Defenders was the Hulk). Maybe if Dr. Strange had been replaced by the likes of Iron Man or even a reformed super-villain like the Sandman, reader interest would have stayed high.

 

I don't know that "D list itis" killed the original Defenders book.  I'm not sure it wouldn't still be published today if not for the X-Factor stunt.  First it veered off its contrary hero, weirdness vibe, then it became an X book, then a redundant X book.  I can't think of a better way to kill a brand than that.

Yeah, I agree. I found much of the original run of The Defenders entertaining enough, with it's B-list team of Nighthawk, Hellcat, Valkryie, Dr. Strange and one A-lister, The Hulk. It's not (just)  the characters, it's the writer and what's done with the characters. 

I think it's more complex than that.
DC jumped at the chance to hire powerhouse Jack Kirby away from their competition.
And some at DC, without doing an analysis of why Marvel was becoming so successful with the fans, assumed that by transplanting their star, they would have instant hits that outsold everything else. It didn't happen.
And after a year, some suits were looking at numbers and still not seeing what they wanted to see across the line.
Given enough time, and staying the course with some of those books, the Fourth World and other Kirby products might have grown a larger, more diverse fan base.
But some wanted a "just add Kirby" hit, and I think that would have taken time. Plus, more fans would need to get on board and then have an interest in finding those back issues, the first year of the titles...it all works together.

Plus, the babyboomers had been growing up, and their tastes were changing. There were more options than just comics for kids...color tv, stereos, cars, GIRLS!, etc...

And, there's a difference between creating or attempting to create something of worth, as Ditko and Kirby have done, and succeeding.  Stan, as far as I can tell, hasn't attempted much of anything.  Except Stan Lee Media, remind me what came of that?

 

     Al

George Poague said:

Tim Boo Ba said: "It is more a case of without Stan adding his cornball humour/tragedy dimension to their basic plots, Kirby (and Ditko?)  flourished."

Yeah, they flourished so much that Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Forever People, New Gods and OMAC were rather quickly cancelled.

Funny thing about crediting those artists.  He's given them credit for being creative, but isn't very specific about what it is the artists created.   And in testimony, basically said that he praised Kirby in order to make Kirby feel good, not because he considered Kirby a cocreator.

 

     Allen Smith

George Poague said:

"Your last statment covers it.  He's gotten a ton of credit, 'cause he wrote most of the credits.  The fact he was busy doesn't  excuse the fact he didn't fully credit his co-creators."

As I recall, Stan was crediting the penciller, inker and even the letterer on the first page of every Marvel comic, at a time when most comics from DC, Charlton and the rest were produced anonymously. Except for the Batman comics, which were credited to "Bob Kane" (who farmed out the art to his ghosts).

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