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By Jim Beard
Attacked by wily sorcerer Yandroth's eerie, zombie-like Squadron Sinister in THE LAST DEFENDERS #5, Kyle Richmond—the high-flying Nighthawk—looks up to see his would-be rescuers:
The Last Defenders!
Now, in the final issue of the LAST DEFENDERS limited series, due August 13, the new line-up swings into action—and a weary world gains its newest and wildest
team of heroes ever: She-Hulk, Warlord Krang, Son of Satan, and…the new Nighthawk?
Series scribe Joe Casey, aided and abetted by artist Jim Muniz and editor Steve Wacker, crafted the new team with care and forethought, knowing full well the demanding standards of Defenders fans everywhere.
"None of these guys were simply picked out of a hat," insists Casey. "They all fill specific roles. As Yandroth says in the book, there's a cosmic formula to the Defenders. And these characters specifically are the ones that fit that formula."
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Over the course of the series, Defenders followers have been treated to more than one roster of team members, as Nighthawk struggled with his own inner demons and building frustration the Initiative. In LAST DEFENDERS #6 he may finally find the team dynamism he's long searched for.
"The great thing about the Defenders—this line-up in particular—is that it's at once unique while also containing the classic 'team book' tropes that I love so much," says Casey. "Lots of character dynamics at play, not everyone gets along, but they're brought together by a destiny and a chemistry that none of them can deny. They're all somehow aware that they belong together, which makes it a lot different from a team like the Avengers."
Kyle Richmond represents the touchstone of the Defenders universe, a seemingly normal guy who in fact has many layers. How will the end of this particular story will impact him, both emotionally and psychologically?
"Needless to say, Kyle ends up as a much more capable individual at the end of the series than he was at the beginning," Casey promises.
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Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan and a former Defender, and Warlord Krang, long a thorn in Namor the Sub-Mariner's side, clock in as fascinating and perhaps even baffling entries for the new Last Defenders, but both crucial according to Casey:
"The Son of Satan is, by birthright, a master of the occult, in a way that even Stephen Strange could never hope to be, and Krang represents the water elemental. Both are absolutely essential to the Defenders existing as an effective unit."
And Jennifer Walters, the Savage She-Hulk? Often holding a full plate, can the verdigris vixen offer the commitment a team like the Defenders might demand?
"As far as I'm concerned, yeah," Casey reassures. "No one ever asks if Wolverine has too much on his plate! Or maybe they do..."
The exciting conclusion to LAST DEFENDERS stands as a high-water mark in the history of the team, yet Casey's not one to sit on his laurels; he wants his new super-group to thrive and continue past the final issue.
"This initial series was always about Kyle Richmond's journey to find his place, both in the world and in the Defenders," the writer explains. "Now that we've arrived at the final destination, this team is poised to kick some major ass in the Marvel U. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to continue their adventures. This team was created with so many stories in mind... it all comes down to forces larger than me to make it happen.
"Are you listening, Wacker?"
Tune in to Defenders HQ on August 13 for the thrilling final battle to save Nighthawk's heart and soul—its all in LAST DEFENDERS #6!