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?
I don't think the concept of "The Defenders" is doomed to fail. I bought the first issues and it just didn't appeal to me. I really liked the Kurt Busiek/Erik Larsen version, but it morphed into The Order and never morphed back.
I really liked the original title (pre the X-Factor takeover) and the Busiek/Larsen version. Can't say I thought that much of the last couple of tries though.
I always thought the Busiek/Larsen version was cancelled due to creator health issues, but over on formspring, Kurt Busiek seems to indicate it was due to low numbers. If that version did badly, maybe the Defenders is a lost cause.
I'm not sure that it makes any difference what I think on this one....I never liked the concept of the Defenders ever since the concept was tested out bouncing between the Hulk, Dr. Strange and Namor's books. And then they showed up again, as a more formal team in "Marvel Feature" starring the Defenders (for three issues, IIRC) and then started their own series, back in the day.
I thought it was a goofy line-up, and I didn't see why these guys were going to pair up/team up... they were all basically outsiders, and it didn't matter to me.
Without the Hulk, Valkryie and Nighthawk, it's not the Defenders!
I generally have enjoyed The Defenders as a concept, but like any title that's more or less a clearinghouse for characters without a home, one has to wonder if it is a kiss of death. There's really only ever been one top-selling character in the team (the Hulk), and if you throw together a team of second tier characters, fan interest is likely to be low--especially given that adding the title to your pull list is a much bigger decision now than it was in the 1970's. At .20-1.00, adding a title for fun wasn't a huge sacrifice. At $3.99, that's a much greater decision.
I've read the first four or five of this series, and I would happily pick up more. I liked it in general, but I think the real problem is the line-up of characters.
While there seems to be a lot of nostalgia for the Hulk-Strange-Namor-Surfer team, it just isn't very compelling. In particular, Dr. Strange is consistently the weak link and he's often treated as the team leader.
The problems with Dr. Strange as a superhero have been documented ad nauseum here and other boards. In short, he's a near omnipotent superhero, which tends to make him dull as dishwater. (Fraction ... or some other person currently writing for Marvel ... has depowered him significantly for this series, but he's still snobbish and dominates the action of the book.)
The story (as far as I've read) features a rare appearance by Prestor John as the team tries to contain what is essentially a reality warping device. In all, it's been a good read but really my eyes just glaze over whenever Dr. Strange comes into play.
This lineup adds Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk to the team, both of whom offer a fresh feel to the book. Unfortunately RS-H is really just standing in for Valkyrie, who absolutely should be on this team instead of the Avengers.
Since this team has always been the fourth or fifth team in the M.U., it really needs to be treated as such. Throw them against smaller, more obscure threats and don't pretend they wield an Avengers-level status.
I'd be happy if they ditched Dr. Strange all together and were led by Namor, and had only occasional appearances by the Hulk and Silver Surfer. Keep Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk. Add back Valkyrie and Gargoyle. Then toss in a few completely unexpected team members -- some now-obscure heroes from the 1970s or 1980s.
Most importantly, Marvel needs to let a book like this percolate and have time to build up its reputation, readership and quality stories.
I dunno the original series ran for 152 issue, although that was 26 years ago. The problem to me (in addition to what Randy said, it is a $4 comic) is that Marvel has made it clear that there are 2 important teams: X-Men and Avengers (see the current crossover for proof). That series could have been a perfect launching point for a Defenders series. Have the team responsible or at least involved in breaking up the two teams' fight. It would have given it huge exposure, instead of being lost in the huge crowd of superhero comics.
Travis, what a great idea! (Having them break up the A v. X thing.)
And yeah, $4 a comic is essentially keeping me out of my local comic stores. I buy ... maybe .. four new comics a month. All the rest I get from eBay, LCS sales or yard sales.
The industry is killing itself.
Travis Herrick said:
Have the team responsible or at least involved in breaking up the two teams' fight. It would have given it huge exposure, instead of being lost in the huge crowd of superhero comics.
I don't think the concept of the Defenders itself - just the Defenders in general or Fraction's Defenders in particular - was the problem. I think that any new Marvel title faces an uphill battle in 2012, and if there's no direct tie to the Avengers or the X-Men (as Travis pointed out) or even just Wolverine or Spider-Man, that's strike one. The price point of $3.99 (as Randy pointed out and others agreed) is strike two.
I think the practice of double shipping - two issues in one month - also works against a new title, and Marvel seems to be doing it with a lot of titles. Most of us have a monthly budget we have to stick to; if we want to keep following our favourite titles, we may be more inclined to drop a title, rather than add one. That's a death sentence for a new title.
And of course, there's me and my ilk - no, not Canadians! - trade waiters. We have no impact on the monthly sales. Perhaps the decision to cancel took the sales of the first trade into consideration, but my best guess is the sales per monthly issue is the biggest deciding factor in whether or not a series gets the axe..
Oh yeah good point on double shipping, John. I hate that. I doubly hate that when they double ship the first two issues of a book in a same month, I am a Previews guy, so I am two issues in before I get to decide if I want to stick around or not. Plus, the catalogs that come out afterwards.
Betty Ross was "cured" or released within an issue or two.
As Peter David wrote the issue, there was no question that she was dead.
Another editor tacked on the Thunderbolt Ross stasis to leave th door open.
As I recall, Peter David had said that he always wrote the Hulk for his wife,
and when his marriage broke up, his enthusiasm for the series died also.
So, he killed off Betty as a symbolic end to his wife. The last few issues were
so bittersweet that I wrote to him and asked what had happened.
He wrote back in just one line, "Oh not much...my marriage of 20 years just ended..."
Robin Olsen said:
Getting sidetracked for a minute (which is what I seem to do best), I gotta ask - Red She-Hulk? This is a character I totally didn't know about. Since Red Hulk is General Ross, wouldn't it be cool if Red She-Hulk turned out to be - Betty Ross? I remember right after she got killed, in Peter David's last issue, there was a scene showing that ol' Thunderbolt had his daughter in some kind of stasis. Of course, if we already know who Red She-Hulk is, it all becomes a moot point, doesn't it? WELL, DOESN'T IT?