Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: The Last Defenders #4

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's The Last Defenders. New posts randomnly throughout the week.]

Shitty '90s Defenders run into problems as they encounter Krang who has taken over as the defender (no pun intended) of Atlantis. The exact details don't matter, but this encounter between Krang and Nighthawk is just another step towards the Last Defenders. As well, the Shitty '90s Defenders have to try and curb their natural insitincts to kill the bad guys, because heroes don't kill apparently. First, Nighthawk makes a comment and then, after the Mighty Avengers arrive, Wonder Man does as well.

Really, the focus of this issue is the confrontation with Tony Stark and his people. First, it's the Mighty Avengers who show up and ream out Nighthawk for this unauthorised display of superpowers. The Wasp says, "THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR ISN'T LIKE YOU. YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN A TEAM PLAYER..." to which Nighthawk responds, "I GUESS IT DEPENDS ON THE TEAM, JAN. / GETS TOUGH TO TELL WHICH ONE I'M ON SOMETIMES." Nighthawk was the company fan writer, but, spurned, he's gone off on his own... which pisses off the company. He stays true to his principles, but finds them at odds with the powers-that-be.

As a result, Nighthawk is taken in before Stark and Gyrich, where he's stripped of his costume and superhero identity. While you would think this would be a time for some more of that metacommentary, the point shifts to commentary on Stark's "new world order" and 50-State Initiative with Nighthawk saying that Stark has "[...] MANAGED TO LEGISLATE SOMETHING THAT USED TO BE SO PURE... / ...YOU'VE LET YOURSELVES BECOME THREATENED BY IDEALISM." Wait, I think there just might be some metacommentary in there about the current state of comics, with pure superhero titles that are just about people dressing up in costumes and fighting crime being a rarity. Most titles are darker than that, or tie into larger plots, rarely are any so simple. There are some (and the quality of them is variable, of course), but in these attempts to make everything MATTER, the purity of the superhero book has been lost somehow. Nighthawk, the fan writer, sees this and places the blame on Stark's feet, the poster boy for Civil War.

Hellstrom visits his ex-wife, but all that's pointed at there is that Hellstrom is searching for something, some purpose.

Kyle Richmond visits Joaquin Pennyworth in the hospital and the meeting goes less than well, but there are similarities: both are damaged, both have lost their teams, both can no longer do what they love most.

A Yandroth scene shows that he made the company whose Atlantean mining operations spurned the "crisis" that made Nighthawk beak the rules move their plans up, another step in his plan to create the Last Defenders.

The issue ends with Hellstrom arriving at Richmond's apartment in a suit of armour (costume) and riding a chariot wanting to discuss Richmond's Defenders.

Next issue: the professional writer schools the fan writer.