The success of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage left people wanting even more from the Netflix heroes, so fans unanimously rejoiced when Marvel announced that they would be forming the Defenders. Even Iron Fist's mixed reviews hasn't slowed down momentum for the Marvel team-up, and the show has even given Danny Rand the perfect environment to make his mark. However, despite the popularity of these characters, there are still a lot of people who don't know much about their source material. Of course, this doesn't make you any less of a Defenders fan - you simply need to know where to start.
Like most adaptations, it's almost impossible to get everything packed into a series. Not only is there a shortage of time, but delving too deep into a character's history can ruin a series' pacing. So, if you're looking for the best way to dive deeper into the Defenders fandom, here's a few titles that are essential for anybody interested in the learning more about the team.
- Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
- Artist: David Marquez
When getting into the team's comic book ventures, why not start with the most recent series? Defenders gives us a little bit of the past, while also dealing with some of their current issues. Luke and Danny are friends, but Luke doesn't fully trust Daredevil yet. Meanwhile, Luke and Jessica are having issues, but you can still see that they love and trust each other. Starting with this series would be a great introduction to the #Netflix series, especially because the comic shares the same Defenders roster.
Just like the Netflix series, this book is all about community - allowing the Defenders to protect the city in a way the Avengers can't.
Jessica Jones (2016)
- Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
- Artist: Michael Gaydos
While Jessica Jones' original series Alias is a good starting point, her current self-titled series is the best place to start. This series takes Jessica Jones and almost destroys everything she holds dear. Why does the series start with her in jail? Will her personal issues cause her to become an alcoholic again? Did she ruin her marriage and the relationship she had with her daughter? You get all of this and more in a whirlwind series that delves into what makes Jessica Jones a fantastic character.
The best thing about this new series is that Jessica is now a well established character. She's fought her demons, become an Avenger, and is a mother and wife. Now she's going back to being a P.I. without the former anonymity that she once had when she wasn't well known. This not only affords her some new contacts, but also puts a bullseye on her head. She's smarter and more mature, but is still the Jessica Jones we've always loved. A great introduction without having to start from square one.
The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story (2006)
- Writer: Matt Fraction
- Artist: David Aja
There were more than a few complaints about the Iron Fist show, and while I personally enjoyed it, I still had one major complaint: We didn't get to see the real Danny Rand that comic book fans know and love. Sure, we got to see his fighting prowess, but Danny is so much more than that. He's a goofball, but he's smart, and while he may be naive, he's nobody's fool. Essentially, Danny Rand should never get tricked too easily.
This series by Matt Fraction was my first introduction to Danny Rand as a solo act, and this is where I learned how great the character can be. This story really shows the power of the Iron Fist, proving that it's more than just wielding the power to destroy mountains. Rand's powers are used to hypnotize, heal, and so much more - making him a complex hero with a lot to offer readers.
In The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story we get a better picture of Danny's characteristics. Essentially, he's a naive yet intelligent adult who studies the intricacies of his powers. We also get to see characters that previously had ownership of Danny Rand's mantle, so you get a better look at the true power of the Iron Fist.
New Avengers: Revolution (2007)
- Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
- Artist: Francis Yu
Leaders don't necessarily call themselves leaders, they just do things that inspire others to join them without hesitation. Saying the right thing to motivate your team encourages them to do better or be better, which is why Luke Cage is a fantastic leader. He didn't ask to take this motley crew and be on the front line of battle, he just saw an injustice and decidedly stepped up. Thanks to who he is, loners like Wolverine, Echo, and Spider-Man followed him into battle without hesitation.
When Captain America turned himself in after Civil War, Luke felt an obligation to keep on fighting. He knew that there was something wrong. Because of this, Luke decided he was going to keep on saving people in a way he knew was right. Even after Clint Barton was made leader of the team, it always seemed like the Avengers followed Luke more than Barton. However, New Avengers: Revolution was the first time we get to see Luke Cage the leader, and it was certainly something special.
- Writer: Mark Waid
- Artists: Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin
The Brian Michael Bendis issues of Daredevil is revered as one of the best Daredevil runs of all time. While that may be true, it doesn't give you the well-rounded view of The Man Without Fear that Mark Waid gives you. The main difference is the tone. It's not just the story that Brian Michael Bendis wrote that makes it dark, but also Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin's illustrations.
Mark Waid tells Daredevil's story when, following a dark period in his life, Murdock returns to New York. Despite his woes, Matt still manages to live his regular life and maintain his life as a vigilante. Best of all, we get to see him regain the trust of his peers like Steve Rogers and Spider-Man, as he comes to terms with people knowing his identity. This is the perfect place for readers to start learning about #Daredevil without going too far back into the character's lore.
Once you've completed these series, you'll likely have a new-found appreciation for the #Marvel/Netflix shows, and may even want to revisit them for another viewing. If you've read any of these issues and have a recommendation of your own, please share it in the comments section.
Marvel's The Defenders is now available on Netflix.