Doctor Strange will call together a new team of Defenders this summer in a new title that may feature some classic Defenders characters, alongside some new additions. Though, somewhat in keeping with the nature of the Defenders, the details of the new team are more mystery than fact at this point.(opens in new tab)
"Called together by Doctor Strange when Earth faces its greatest threats, the Defenders have always been Marvel's most eclectic Super Hero team," reads Marvel's description of the new Defenders title. "Who will join him this time?"
The cover, by artist Javier Rodriguez, which Marvel points to as showing the first "clues" of the line-up and mission of the new Defenders, has some particularly interesting imagery.
Most noticeable is the presence of Masked Raider, a modern version of an obscure Golden Age Marvel Character who was updated in 2019's Marvel Comics #1000 (opens in new tab) as the bearer of a cosmic artifact known as the Eternity Mask.
At the time, Marvel pointed to Masked Raider as a figure who would play a key role down the road in the overarching saga of the Marvel Universe, but his appearances have been scarce in the time since (possibly because of industry-wide schedule shake-ups at the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in spring of 2020).
Now, it seems he'll be a part of assembling a new roster for the Defenders. Often dubbed Marvel's greatest 'non-team' thanks to the usually informal line-up, which mostly centers around Doctor Strange as Marvel's copy states, the Defenders have historically taken on villains and threats that are equally as odd and eclectic as their membership.
As for who may be on the new team, the Tarot cards apparently being cast by Strange show a who's who of classic Defenders, most of whom joined the team in its Bronze Age heyday of the late '60s and early '70s (opens in new tab).
The characters shown on the cards include founding Defenders Hulk and Namor, who were the first heroes to heed Doctor Strange's call; Silver Surfer, the team's first early recruit who is usually considered among the 'non-team's' founders; and later additions Moondragon, Daimon Hellstrom, Valkyrie (apparently the original Brunnhilde version), Harpy/Betty Ross (Hulk's one-time paramour), Beast of the X-Men, and Cloud, an obscure member of the Defenders who was a sentient cloud of space gas who materialized as a pair of male and female human beings.
Like we said, Defenders was often weird as hell. One prominent classic story involved a villain swapping the team's heads and bodies.
Each character appears on a Tarot card alongside some iconography that relates to their nature (Hulk appears on the Tower card, which symbolizes destruction, for example).
It's interesting to note that the recent X-Men crossover 'X of Swords' leaned heavily on Tarot imagery, down to its title (pronounced "ten of swords") taken directly from a Tarot card.
The team's mission isn't any clearer than its roster, though Masked Raider's speech bubble states "time itself is doomed" if Doctor Strange can't assemble a new team, while Strange states his "magic is alive."
Marvel doesn't name the creative team for the new title, though cover artist Javier Rodriguez has a Doctor Strange pedigree as the artist on the team book Sorcerers Supreme (opens in new tab).
Marvel states Defenders #1 will arrive in May. Watch for Marvel's full May 2021 solicitations later this month right here on Newsarama.
Despite enjoying something of a classic status, the Defenders did not make Newsarama's list of the best comic book superteams of all time. Find out who did here. The top four are pretty much who you think they are.