The New Defenders

IndestructiblesAt some point in Matthew Phillion’s indefatigably entertaining novel The Indestructibles we began reminiscing about the Defenders, Marvel Comics’ aggregate of superhero square pegs. But instead of Dr. Strange, Hulk, or the Silver Surfer, the author has given us Dr. Silence, Fury, and Straylight.

Call it the Defenders template, if you wish. To wit: bring together a group of “fruitcakes and small gods” and appoint a sorcerer supreme to guide them into battle. It worked back in 1971 when Dr. Strange first assembled his classic Defenders line-up. And it still works today.

In this instance, however, there was a slight wrinkle. The Indestructibles weren’t a fraternity of well-known (but notorious) heroes. As a matter of fact, all the old heroes were gone. They had retired, or gotten themselves killed, or flown off to another galaxy to solve some other world’s problems. Some even found refuge one hundred years in the future. There were no “well-known” heroes to assemble.

It was up to Doc Silence, arguably the world’s greatest magic practitioner, to draft a squadron of youngsters with burgeoning superpowers. And thus the Indestructibles were born. First to join was a young woman with Supergirl-like strength and abilities. Other members included a kid with an alien super symbiote living in his brain, a girl who could control gravity, and a teenage werewolf. Also on the team was Kate Miller, who wasn’t really a superhero at all. “Technically, I was simply assaulting people without the sanction of law enforcement,” she admits. In other words, the superteam was filled with a disparate mix of monsters and freaks. Or, we suppose, they could simply be called Dr. Strange and the Furious Five.

Naturally (as is often the case in these sorts of novels) there’s someone trying to take over the world. This time it’s a Lovecraftian end-of-the-world cult known as the Children of the Elder Star. These nut jobs were doing their best to manipulate governments, political leaders, wars, and finances to their advantage. It was all about the money and power. “The world was a big chess board to them,” explains Dr. Silence.

And, like the Indestructibles, the Children of the Elder Star had its own sorceress supreme on the payroll. Lady Natasha Gray exuded an air of power, something predatory and infinitely dark—like Maleficent on a bad hair day. She and Doc Silence shared a long and complicated history, and their relationship definitely makes the situation more acute.

At the beginning of the novel, the Indestructibles weren’t very indestructible. During their first official mission, for example, they looked like a bunch of toddlers in a bouncy castle. But over time, and through experience and good-fellowship, they figured out how to become superheroes. “Every so often humanity gets lucky and a hero is born,” says Dr. Silence. “And these heroes shine in the sun.” Three cheers for Solar, Dancer, Fury, Straylight, and Entropy Emily: the five brightest stars in the sky.

[The Indestructibles / By Matthew Phillion / First Printing: April 2014 / ISBN: 9780991427529]

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