PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Cut and Pasty: "Fearless Defenders #4"

Mike Cassella

The Fearless Defenders book has been a welcome surprise among the Marvel NOW! Push. But the art…

Fearless Defenders #4

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Cullen Bunn, Will Sliney
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2013-07

The Fearless Defenders book has been a welcome surprise among the Marvel NOW! push. The concept of the book dated back to the Fear Itself: Fearless an epilogue limited series to the "Fear Itself" event that Cullen Bunn wrote. At the conclusion of the Fearless limited, Valkyrie is assigned to build a team of shield maidens from Earth’s mightiest female heroes and, well, hasn’t gotten around to it yet at the beginning of the Fearless Defenders series. Fortunately, Misty Knight is around for a team-up and she has the rolodex of heroes looking for a cause.

At its core, the series is a step in the right direction for Marvel. It’s a team-of-awesome-superwomen book without pandering, while starring second and third-tier characters that are never really given all that much of a spotlight in this post-Avengers (the 2012 movie that is) publishing scene. Marvel has a large backlog of characters that just require the steady hand of quality writers in order to become a set of protagonists that you care about following month to month. Being able to cherry pick the characters that can qualify for such a book is something I’m so far willing to give Bunn credit for seeing as how he seems to be slowly joining the ranks of male writers who know how to write female characters. Those are smaller ranks than you might imagine, they include Brian Wood and Jeff Parker.

One key point I also wanted to highlight is that this series has managed to make up for the flaws of decompressed storytelling bringing down a “bringing the band together” opening arc a lot more than other Marvel books currently attempting this. The key that Bunn seems to have landed on is that instead of dragging out a central plotline into five or six parts and introducing characters who have multiple motivations thus butchering the page count between them. Bunn takes a more organic approach wherein he builds on each character’s motivations by adding another to the plot one issue at a time almost like adding logs to a fire. By doing this, he is able to make each issue stand out without dragging the narrative out to the degree that the audience loses their interest. By issue four, we’ve been introduced to Misty, Val, and also Warrior Woman and Dani Moonstar. Each character has been given an opportunity to show off their motivations and their power sets and seen how that can benefit the idea of them as a group against a common threat. This is where the book is succeeding.

Unfortunately, there is a weak link in this tapestry and it’s the art. Will Sliney is a name I wasn’t familiar with before picking up this book so I’m not sure how long he’s been in the business but I can say that he still has a ways to go. While Sliney is quite good at rendering of facial expressions and fight scenes, his lack of consistency from panel to panel leads a critical eye to wonder how much his art can be fixed in post-production and why he has trouble with simple figure and background issues that keep popping up in his pages. There’s nothing ugly or uninteresting about his work so it’s not a total distraction but it would be nice if he could proof his own panels and keep from lending rough unfinished characters.

All in all, Fearless Defenders has been a fun book with a purpose and that is to once again highlight that Marvel has tons of great characters, especially female ones, that deserve some spotlighting and to be handled by a solid creative team. Cullen Bunn is definitely one half of that team and Will Sliney is pretty close to being the other half if he can polish up his pencils. I’m hoping these series gets room to evolve and build an audience.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.