The Marvel Vault program has yielded some headscratchers and some entertaining stories. Heck, some of the headscratchers are also the entertaining stories. I'm completely uncertain what the end game is for the Vault stories, but I do know that some of them are nice period pieces and others are reminders or what once was, while still other titles remind me that some concepts still have life, legs, or stories left to be told.
"The Defenders" is one of those concepts that has some depths left to plumb, especially if Kurt Busiek has a chance to write them. The preview pages of this book threw me a bit, but the story and the "Behind the Scenes" page at the back of the book set things straight and provided yet another adventure for the quartet of Hulk, Dr. Strange, Namor, and Silver Surfer.
Worked up in the Marvel style, but with a significant delay in the process, this issue delivers a Fabian Nicieza plot with Kurt Busiek providing the script, which Busiek penned to go with the art drawn by Mark Bagley. The story initially appears to feature the Defenders misplaced from their bodies, but eventually becomes quite a bit more. I didn't dial in for Busiek's "Defenders" run, but now I'm thinking it may be worth a peek.
Bagley's work isn't glamorous, but it is solid and gets the story told, providing an easy read. Bagley does seem much more natural a fit to draw the Defenders than he did with his recently completed stint on "Justice League of America." Of course, having Chris Sotomayor add colors to this story does elevate the artwork to a degree.
This issue does not contain "one of the greatest Defenders stories ever told," nor does it contain a "total train wreck." Those options were provided by Busiek in the text afterword of this issue. The constraints of a self-contained, time-lost issue certainly offered limitations to what this story could be, but in the end, this is every bit a Defenders story, albeit not an exceptionally memorable one. What it does do, however, is pique my interest for more Defenders. With all the love the Avengers have been receiving lately, isn't it time the Defenders got some love?