Published November 16, 2018

Writer Al Ewing Brings the Original Defenders Lineup Back Together in 'Defenders: The Best Defense'

Doctor Strange, Namor, Silver Surfer, and the Hulk come together again... just don't call them a team!

The finale of "The Best Defense" wraps up next month with DEFENDERS: THE BEST DEFENSE #1! Written by Al Ewing with art by Joe Bennett, the culmination of the latest lineup of Defenders goes on sale Wednesday, December 19. talked to Ewing about the "non-team" and how they work together despite their differences. This is the original lineup of the Defenders – Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer. What is bringing them together again?

Al Ewing: The four of them find themselves drawn into each other’s orbit again because of a particular threat -- the Train, which I won't spoil here but is one of the most cosmic concepts I've seen in years, from the macro-mind of the one and only Jason Latour -- but to say that's bringing them "together" is overstating the case. The Defenders aren't a team, they're a non-team, and in true non-team fashion, they manage to unite against the same high-cosmic threat without ever fully connecting, just colliding through a mix of synchronicity and bloody-mindedness. On a more personal, human level, what connects the Defenders?

Al Ewing: Nothing! Well, not quite nothing. The one thing that unites them is that none of them belong on a team. With the exception of the Silver Surfer, they've all attempted to make a go of it as Avengers, but it's never stuck, mostly because they're just not the Avengers type. I keep coming back to that moment way back in the original AVENGERS #2 when Iron Man is trying to hold a meeting but Thor is angry at the Hulk for not wearing actual clothes. That's the spirit of the Defenders for me. If the Avengers are the establishment, the Defenders are the counterculture -- a loose collective of misfits and weirdos that form a kind of grudging "found family."

Panel from Defenders The Best Defense
Art by Joe Bennett You’re coming off IMMORTAL HULK – how will that story figure into the Defenders?

Al Ewing: Some of the ongoing subplots in IMMORTAL HULK -- including the Hulk's "infection" by the ghost of his father -- are alluded to, but they won't really affect the plot. The Hulk in these books is definitely the one readers are following in IMMORTAL HULK, though. He's definitely the scariest person on the non-team, and the least troubled by his actions. You’ve written for teams before. How are you approaching the Defenders? How are they different from the other teams you’ve written for, like the Avengers and the Inhumans?

Al Ewing: I'm answering almost every question here with some variation of "they're not a team." It's the standard Defenders catchphrase, and it was my starting point here, because it encapsulates so much about them. They don't have a team charter or even a unifying concept, unlike every other team I've ever put my hand to. They're just a bunch of loners and misfits who Doctor Strange offers his spare room to when they need it. That's got a lot of appeal.

Panel from Defenders The Best Defense
Art by Joe Bennett You’re collaborating with Joe Bennett on the art for this – how are you playing off each other?

Al Ewing: IMMORTAL HULK is very grim and horrible, it's full of darkness and scary things and lots of body horror. Which Joe is, of course, great at. But this DEFENDERS special gives him the opportunity to stretch some different muscles, to go very high-cosmic. And, of course, he does an incredible job with that, as he does with everything. Plus it lets him turn his hand to some characters that wouldn't normally be in the orbit of the main HULK book. His Namor is a treat.

DEFENDERS: THE BEST DEFENSE #1 goes on sale Wednesday, December 19! You can pre-order your copy today either online or at your local comic shop!




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