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SwiftMann
Saturday, September 26, 2020 8:01:17 PM
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Jim Shooter’s crazy universe after being bounced from Valiant. It was bold in its story, its marketing, and its approach but in the end didn’t really come together before the money ran out.

The majority of the titles and issues break down to one of two plots, intro and pre-Schism. The first is the set-up of Warriors of Plasm #0-7 (plus the one-shot) and Dark Dominion #0-3, which occur in story timelines between October 1993 and early January 1994. The second is the build up to Schism, which includes WoP #8-12, DD #4-10, Good Guys #1-9, Charlemagne #0-5, War Dancer #1-6. The events of these 35 issues take place over just three weeks with characters and plot points constantly shifting from title to title. Everything else seems to occur after the unpublished Schism event.

Birth of the Defiant Universe & Defiant Genesis / Origin of the Defiant Universe – Very solid primers for what was to come, particularly Birth. These show that most everything was pretty well laid out in advance.

Warriors of Plasm #0-13 - The keystone book of the Defiant universe. This definitely took a couple issues to get into since they were setting up an entirely new type of lifeform, societal hierarchy, and language. I got hits of Nexus in some world building and politics created here. There seemed to be a few issues where a few details were skipped, almost like they had spent so much time hashing it out in the planning they forgot to include it in the actual book. Other than that, this was a strong title for Defiant. #13 was a fascinating look into what could have been with Schism.

Splatterball - The only issue I don’t have and/or couldn’t find online.

Dark Dominion #0-10 - This was easily my favorite Defiant series. The idea that the things we think we see out of the corner of our eye are real and just live in a slightly different frequency of our world and cause our stress and doubt was fascinating. I really enjoyed the main character and his trips to McDonald’s and Mercy the homeless lady. What could have been an overly trite character in the Puritan was enjoyable.

Charlemagne #0-5 - A powerful series start with #1 that wasn’t really matched afterwards due to the series shifting to setting up Charles’ role in Schism.

Good Guys #1-9 - The same two or three plot points are repeated for ten horrible issues. Grey’s artwork on #1.5 has some great detail. That never happens again and is grossly lacking in details. The stories are just stupid and come off as pre-teen wish fulfilment. I really hated this series.

War Dancer #1-6 - A truly odd, quircky idea of a character made even more madcap by throwing professional wrestlers into the mix. I didn’t care for Alan Weiss art very much at all though and the writing on this got fairly repetitive. The reveal and connection to Plasm in #4 was quite compelling though.

Schism #1-4 - The plot notes available on the Unofficial Defiant Reading Room were pretty well done. It would have been fun to see Lapham bring this to life.

Dogs of War #1-5 - A spin-off for two of the human characters from Plasm that quickly became about just one of them essentially going Punisher on everything. There was zero point to this book.

Prudence and Caution #1-2 - This, like Dogs of War, quickly lost its titular point. Add to that the fact that I’ve never been a Jim Fern fan and this was a big miss for me. After two issues, I’m not sure where Claremont was planning to go with this series but it seemed like he was going to make Rick and Pru an item. Which seems wrong headed.

Grimmax #0 - A silly short story of Grimmax as an NYC bike messenger. I doubt this would have compelled anyone to check out Defiant, but since it was one of the later freebies it probably didn’t matter.

Glory #0 - A sweet story of Glory dealing with being needed on both Plasm and Earth. I really like this as the last issue of the entire run.


There was a truly entertaining and original idea behind the Defiant universe, but I can’t help but feel Shooter & Co made everything about it overly convoluted. From the zero issue card sets to all the titles effectively being one story with no map provided Defiant didn’t make it easy on readers.

While Shooter steered the ship on most titles there was a crazy amount of writer, artist, and editorial turnover in the one year of publishing. Oddly, the coloring approach gave everything a sameness that was kind of meh, until the one issue colored by Digital Chameleon late in the run and suddenly I missed the “painted” look of the coloring.

Defiant may never have survived all the obstacles thrown their way, but I can’t help but think if they had just Warriors of Plasm and Dark Dominion and one other title they may fared better. With WoP being the imaginary side and DD being the Earth side and the two slowly coming together (as they started off doing), a third title, whether Charlemagne/Dancer combo or an anthology of some kind, focusing on the other characters it would have felt far more cohesive and Schism could have simply taken place in the issues themselves.

I fell down a rabbithole of putting together a reading order and still working to clean up our database because whoever put some of the stuff in the system didn't do a great job of it. For anyone interesting, here's what I came up with as a reading order.


Assumption 1: The dates in Good Guys #1, 1.5, & 2 are incorrect as #2 has to happen after 1/20/94 and #1.5 is "just before #2, not 11/13/93, and the kids didn't wait two months between #1 & 2 to meet up.

Assumption 2: Despite the Manhattan bridge reference in Charlemagne #4 and the Schism logo on Dogs of War #5, most of Dogs of War and Prudence & Caution take place well after the events of Schism.

Birth of the Defiant Universe
Defiant Genesis / Origin of the Defiant Universe
Plasm #0
Warriors of Plasm #1-2
Splatterball
Warriors of Plasm #3-4
Dark Dominion #0-3
Warriors of Plasm GN
Warriors of Plasm #5-7
Good Guys #1
Good Guys #1.5
Warriors of Plasm #8-9
Dark Dominion #4
Good Guys #2-4
Charlemagne #1
Charlemagne #0
Dark Dominion #5-6
Dogs of War #1
War Dancer #1-2
Good Guys #5
Dark Dominion #7-9
Charlemagne #2
Good Guys #6-7
Charlemagne #3-4
Good Guys #8-9
Dark Dominion #10
Warriors of Plasm #10-11
War Dancer #3-5
Charlemagne #5
War Dancer #6
Warriors of Plasm #12
Schism #1-4 [plot details only]
Warriors of Plasm #13
Warriors of Plasm #14 [art pages only]
Dogs of War #2-3
Prudence & Caution #1-2
Dogs of War #4-5
Grimmax #0
Glory #0
Thundercron
Sunday, September 27, 2020 2:55:31 AM
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So the whole point was a miniseries that never got published? Oof.
SwiftMann
Sunday, September 27, 2020 1:56:40 PM
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Thundercron wrote:
So the whole point was a miniseries that never got published? Oof.

That's not an unfair way of looking at it. Pretty much the equivalent of 90s Valiant folding just before Unity started, which is what really launched them (for the year they were super popular).

I don't think Defiant would have made it much past the Schism mini-series. The plot notes, which are very detailed with the exception of #4, reads pretty standard.

I don't remember if they ran late on books, but having so many titles, no editor's notes referencing other titles (which would have gone a long way here), and an expensive and fluctuating price point* at the time just killed them. Even if Marvel hadn't sued them for copyright over the name Plasm.

*They came out the gate with $2.95 on WoP and five issues in dropped it to $2.50 as the base price. Meanwhile, they did a TON of 40 and 48 page issues that ranged in price from $2.75-3.50 depending on the title and the month. All at a time when Marvel books were $1.25-1.50. It may have been what was needed from a cost perspective, but it wasn't even remotely competitive pricing. Even Valiant books were only $2.25.
Thundercron
Sunday, September 27, 2020 3:53:17 PM
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I've always liked Jim Shooter. He was EiC at Marvel when I started collecting, so everything about Marvel at the time that got me hooked I attribute to him. But I constantly feel bad for the guy. Seems bad outcomes and controversy follows wherever he goes. Maybe I should start rethinking the common denominator.

Another nice analysis by the way, Dan.
SwiftMann
Sunday, September 27, 2020 8:59:27 PM
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Thanks Corey. I've been struggling mentally the last week or two (and I haven't even had to sweat being chased by wildfires), so apologies if sections got rambling or incoherent. Took a few runs at editing it together.

Shooter was definitely full of interesting story ideas. His marketing/sales ideas may have been a bit too wacky though, especially once he was in full command. He also comes across as the love 'em or really, really hate 'em type to work with/for, with far more in the latter than former.

I have my eyes on the last two Broadway issues I need to complete the post-Marvel Shooter trifecta. At least that one is only 25 issues. Should knock that out in a weekend once I pull the trigger on the purchase. May need to finish reading my Jon Sable, Feelance run first though.
Ibis
Tuesday, June 01, 2021 8:06:38 PM
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Hmmm! So I do have a profile setup here.

I'm pretty much in agreement with your review Swiftmann and I've maintained a site dedicate to the publisher for about 17 years. I think the plotting went haywire as the Marvel lawsuit was going on. I don't dislike any of it, but some of the art was really rushed. I don't think they were late with any books, but I heard stories of teams staying up all night to meet the deadlines. Most of the creators really liked working for DEFIANT. I think Charles Yoakum might be the only creator that looks back at DEFIANT with harsh criticism.

Some of the story elements in Good Guys was very strange. In Good Guys #4, Laura's dad invites one of the kids into his home for a beverage, He sneaks out of the house leaving the kid alone and flies around the neighborhood looking for his daughter. As he's searching, he's pondering her racy leotards. It's just very strange. In another issue, the kids are in a house and Laura just start lifting the furniture into the air. The stories at time just quickly jumped from one plot element to the next as if check off the things got done. The transitions between the plot elements are often illogical.

Towards the end though, the writing was getting much better. I honestly think Schism was going to be a convoluted mess.

My favorite series ended up being Dogs of War. It was more grounded on Earth. The character was ruthless.
Dark Dominion was a close second. The Plasm world falls into a realm that I describe as... "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Some story settings are fantastic and surreal, but the longer the plot dwells there, the more your brain starts picking it apart and focusing on everything illogical about it.

Here is the only page of art that was ever colored for the (unpublished) Schism 4 issue series. It was from issue #4.



Defiant1

SwiftMann
Tuesday, June 01, 2021 9:38:55 PM
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I have definitely seen that art before. Good stuff.

What's the website?
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