"The Defenders" #6 is like an issue of research; a handbook guide entry delivered in narrative form. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it does inform the flow and structure of this issue. Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, is delving into the secret history of the Marvel U, along with the help of the Silver Surfer. What they find is intriguing, very cool and moves the plot to the next step. Rand moves through these pages picking up more and more information the reader needs to seed away and interlock for later.
Rand seeks the Surfer's help to access information from the many books left behind dedicated to telling the history of the previous Iron Fist. There is even a whole page dedicated to Rand and the Surfer reading books but we also get a killer little double page sequence of seeing some of the bizarre events documented of the travels of the Confederates of the Curious. You can see the Matt Fraction who wrote "The Immortal Iron Fist" busting at the seams to show himself in these pages. We get a sneak but the rest of the issue needs to drop more information than it does cool sequences.
There is a major plot twist, which adds juicy layers to the narrative but is then dealt with in such a way so the characters will brush it off as being inconsequential and sure the problem will arise again. It feels like a convenient way to end the scene only to start it again later.
The art from Victor Ibanez with Tom Palmer and Terry Pallot on finishes, is serviceable to the story but rarely spectacular. The interlude sequences involving the Confederates are detailed and delicious to see but the rest of the issue feels a little like Bland Fill-In Artist #7 at the House of Ideas. Ibanez isn't exactly making mistakes, he's just not living up to the Iron Fist legacy of David Aja, or even the gauntlet thrown down in the previous issue by Mitch Breitweiser. Mostly, this is a case of a misplaced artist, not an artist incapable of delivering.
It should also be mentioned that Terry and Rachel Dodson are killing on the titles recently. The layouts, the colors, everything works toward a completely enjoyable experience.
"The Defenders" #6 is yet another installment that is good, highly enjoyable, but not yet great. The promise continues to build and perhaps reread together in a collection the lines will be connected more easily and enjoyably, but for now this title fills a nebulous void. It's a silent crescendo and the audience can only wait so long.