This is my favorite issue of this series so far. It has taken awhile for things to really kick off, at least for me, but three issues in, Cullen Bunn is finally delivering what I hoped for when I subbed to this title.
After a few issues of set up, Valkyrie is finally putting together her team of “Shield Maidens,” the group the readers will be calling the Defenders. So far, we’ve got Val, Misty Knight, Annabelle Riggs as the scientist/sidekick, and the newly introduced Hippolyta. Hippolyta fits pretty cleanly into the powerhouse stereotype. She’s brash, confident, and somewhat abrasive. Factor in her newly increased power levels, and it is easy to see why she and the more stoic Val are having some problems getting along. Misty does fade into the background a bit here, but I’m OK with it. This is Hippolyta’s debut and she really does seem to justify her appearance on so many pages. This is actually starting to feel like a team book, and I really like the team!
My other complaint was the lack of named baddies. Now we’ve got a ton. I’m not sure Caroline LeFay or Mr. Raven will end up being quite powerful enough to challenge the assembled defenders, but those crazy evil valkyries should be up for the job! They’ve got great names, descriptive titles, and unique looks. And they don’t seem to be overpowered, so they should match up nicely against Val’s assembled team once they get together.
To make that happen, I hope Dani Moonstar gets some measure of revenge. She’s been a plot point for the book so far, not able to do much to affect her own fate. She needs some comeuppance to redeem herself or she’ll end up looking pretty weak.
Will Sliney’s art is still a bit two-dimensional, mostly obvious with the awkward connections between characters’ heads and necks. But there is no denying that he is good at dynamic action and fight choreography. Again, Hippolyta seems to bull through the pages. DC’s Hippolyta is a lot more famous, but there is no doubt which one I’d like to read more about. In my opinion, she’s clearly the breakout character of the series so far.