Doctor Strange may be dying this fall in Marvel's high-profile limited series The Death of Doctor Strange. But hey, this is comic books, where death isn't necessarily the end of your superhero career.(opens in new tab)
Publishing almost concurrently with The Death of Doctor Strange is Defenders, a new five-issue limited series starring Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme along with another traditional Defender the Silver Surfer, but this time alongside an electric trio of newer, older, and lower profile characters, including one-time Defender Cloud, Red She-Hulk (which seems to be an amalgamation of Betty Ross's Harpy and Red She-Hulk personas), and the Masked Raider.
The Masked Raider appears to be something of a co-leader/star of this new iteration of the team.
He is a reinvention of an old pre-Marvel Timely Comics western character that was reintroduced in 2019's Marvel Comics #1001 (opens in new tab), the second of two one-shot specials that celebrated 80 years of Marvel characters.
A creation of writer Al Ewing and artist Mike Deodato Jr, the new iteration wears the Eternity Mask, which is a fragment of the cosmic entity Eternity which grants the still unrevealed wearer cosmic awareness and the ability to match any superpowered adversary he may fight.
He subsequently appeared in 2019's Incoming #1 (opens in new tab) one-shot as the lynchpin to a murder mystery featuring appearances of many Marvel characters that served as a set-up for various Marvel ongoing series and storylines for 2020.
This new Defender series was also set up in that aforementioned precursor to Marvel Comics #1001, Marvel Comics #1000 (opens in new tab). And all of these stories have one thing in common - writer Al Ewing.
For Defenders, Ewing will be joined by artist Javier Rodríguez. The series looks like it will explore the metaphysical side of the Marvel Universe, as the new team takes on a mission that will uncover "the hidden architecture of reality itself."
This tripping new take also helps Marvel claim the Defenders brand back from the team-up of more street-level characters like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones, reflecting the Netflix era of streaming TV shows.
According to Marvel's description of the series, the Marvel Universe cosmos wasn't reality's first, but its existence might be threatened if the new team of Defenders can't track Marvel's oldest villain through "the deepest trenches of time."
Check out the preview pages of August 11's Defenders #1, which features the classic superhero trope of Doctor Strange and the Masked Raider fighting before getting down to business figuring out what their common cause is.
The Defenders are classically considered a 'non-team,' which explains why it didn't make Newsarama's list of the best superhero teams of all time.