This a review of Marvel Masterworks The Defenders Vol. 1. This graphic novel looks to be an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle with some of Marvel’s offbeat (i.e., less popular) characters. The Defender’s first appearance features The Sub-Mariner, The Silver Surfer, and The Hulk. The Surfer is gone by the second storyline, mainly because Stan Lee didn’t want anyone not named Stan Lee writing the character. He’s replaced by Doctor Strange.
The first stories, written by Roy Thomas, are okay. Very workmanlike. The same plot is recycled – a demon/elder god/whatever tries to sacrifice a Defender – several times. The series finds its legs with the addition of writer Steven Englehart, who pens stories about wizards with rat friends, talkative Doomsday Machines, etc.
Mr. Englehart adds fan favorite The Valkyrie to the team, and she stays until the bitter end (when I started reading The Defenders over a decade later, she was still a member). As an added bonus, Sal Buscema does a few issues of the art. Mr. Buscema draws my favorite version of the Hulk – big, green, and dumb with purple pants.