As we’ve been keeping track of The Last Defenders miniseries with writer Joe Casey, one thing has been constant - change. From the start of the series until the most recent issue, team founder – Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond) has seen members come and go at an alarming rate.
And now, add to that, the solicitation and cover reveal for the series finale in #6…again, a new team (?), and that solicitation which reads:
This is it -- the moment you've been waiting for! After all the false starts and missed opportunities... finally, the Last Defenders are revealed! Together, they share a destiny that can affect the course of all existence -- that is, if Kyle Richmond can manage to assemble them! But there is no price too great to pay to get this team together!
So – what does that mean, and what on earth are those characters doing on the cover? We spoke with Joe…
Newsarama Note: Click on the arrows in the box on the upper right for a preview of The Last Defenders #4Newsarama: Joe - the solicitation for the final issue has hit, and on the cover, we're seeing yet another "Last Defenders" team. Okay - how "last" is this "Last Defenders"? Are you settled on this?
Joe Casey: The tough part about promoting anything these days is that between advance solicitations -- which it feels like everyone sees now -- and the press I've been doing, it's been a frantic dance not to spoil the ultimate destination of the series. I still don't want to reveal too much here, but the lineup seen on the cover of #6 is obviously what we've been heading for all along. I think a lot of readers who watched the first lineup with Colossus and Blazing Skull dissolve in issue #2 figured this was gonna' be a roller coaster ride. Besides which, it's not at all uncommon for the Defenders to change up members at a breakneck pace... it's part of their history. But, one thing I've always said, there's a specific reason why the book is titled the last Defenders. Finally, as we get into issues #4-6 of the series, we can reveal why.
NRAMA: And let's run down the roll call...
JC: Nighthawk, Son of Satan, She-Hulk and the Warlord Krang. Probably the most unlikely team of heroes we've seen in the Marvel Universe in quite a while. But, you've gotta admit, on a pure power scale, it's a lineup of heavy hitters. They're a formidable group, no doubt about it. And, if you're a longtime fan of the Defenders, then you can already see certain parallels between these characters and the founding members of the non-team. This is a completely conscious decision and factors heavily into the story.
NRAMA: A little one by one - Son of Satan? In “cover talk-ese,” dude...that's a RADICAL NEW LOOK! Comments?
JC: Yeah, Hellstrom's rocking the spandex once again. Maybe some readers would argue that it's not in his nature to wear this kind of outfit, but there's a method to his madness. It's interesting, because Hellstrom's personal story is one of the more subtle emotional aspects of the series. We've seen some previously hidden bits of his history in the early issues, and in issue #4 we'll see him try and reconnect with someone close to him. Actually, "close to him" is an understatement. But it's absolutely the key to exactly why he'd put on a cape again. There's so much potential with a character like this, completely unique to *any* superhero universe. What we'll see in the series just begins to scratch the surface.
NRAMA: Krang? Kind of gives us an idea where his storyline is going in the most recent issue...
JC: Okay, here's my thing about Krang. He's most often been portrayed as Namor's enemy. But how often has Namor himself been portrayed as a bad guy? It's a strange dynamic... the whole, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing. Maybe it's not quite that black-and-white with Krang, but he's definitely a character I would describe as an anti-hero, which leaves us plenty of room to expand readers' perception of him (if, in fact, they remember him at all). In a team of wild cards, he's definitely the wildest.
NRAMA: And it looks like She-Hulk's back...
JC: You can't keep a good gamma-irradiated girl down. In a way, she was sort of the red herring of the first issue lineup. The one who would leave and then, through events yet to be revealed, would come back. Even within that first misbegotten lineup, she and Kyle worked fairly well together. There may be a long way to go, relationship-wise, but it was a good start. And she's incredibly important to the new team. Hell, they all are. That's the difference here, what separates the Defenders from just about every other team I could think of (including earlier incarnations of the Defenders): if any one of them wasn't present, the team couldn't exist. And they have to exist.
NRAMA: And "a" Nighthawk. Is that, in fact, Kyle?
JC: Good question. Another question readers might want to ask themselves: Should it be Kyle? So far, his success ratio as a superhero ain't the greatest. And if anyone thinks he's been through some sh*t so far in the series, you haven't seen anything yet. What happens in issue #4 is perhaps the most devastating thing that's ever happened to Kyle Richmond.
NRAMA: You're not going to spoil the story, obviously, but is this the team Kyle has been building towards, or is this what works at the end of the day?
JC: I wouldn't say that this team is something that Kyle specifically has been building towards... sometimes destiny finds you. On the other hand, someone is counting on this team getting together.
NRAMA: Along those lines, then - the solicitation - "Together, they share a destiny that can affect the course of all existence" pretty heady stuff for the Defenders. Any teases?
JC: Is that what it says? Here's what I can tell you... this team will exist for a reason. It's not simple, random fate that brings them together. There's a purpose involved. And it's not just to "fight the foes no single superhero could withstand" or "protecting a world that hates and fears them". It's not simply about a mission statement.
NRAMA: Finally - will the end of the mini leave them together as a functioning, cohesive team? Will they be showing up elsewhere as The Defenders?
JC: That's the idea, yeah... although "functioning" and "cohesive" aren't easy to come by, with these four characters especially. But our mandate was to, once and for all, establish the Defenders' place in the Marvel Universe. Beyond the current political landscape, beyond alien invasions and all that stuff that's generally here today, gone tomorrow... this is a team and a concept that's being built to last for as long as there is a Marvel Universe.The Last Defenders #4 is due in stores next Wednesday.