I had another kind of transcendent experience in the IFZ: a new story appeared in my mind, powerfully and unexpectedly. Day after day, completely unbidden, images, characters and scenes were beamed into my head from the Land of Story: I couldn’t turn off the spigot (not that I wanted to). I wrote pages and pages of notes, furiously trying to keep up with the information download. The story is a fairly epic piece: I see it as a novel—a big, fat one; maybe more than one—that encompasses just about everything I think, feel and believe, all within the context of a cosmic adventure that stretches from the streets of Brooklyn to the edges of Creation. I don’t know if this is one of those stories that will end up sitting in a folder for years, perhaps forever, or if it will come bursting out into being with force and urgency. Part of me isn't even sure I’m capable of writing it; but I suppose I have to trust the gods of Story and see what unfolds.
One of the things that greeted me on my return home—aside from masses of mail, both cyber and three-dimensional—was a box from Marvel Comics containing copies of Essential Defenders, Volume 5—reprinting nearly four hundred pages of my Defenders stories (along with issues of Marvel Team-Up and Captain America that tied into my work on that series). I was still very new to comics when I wrote Defenders, working with artist Don Perlin—one of the flat-out nicest guys in the business—and two excellent editors, Al Milgrom and Carl Potts. It was my first truly personal project at Marvel: a series that I poured heart and soul into. It was very early in my career, so my skill-set wasn’t quite there yet—some of the stories are painfully clumsy, a few are flat-out embarrassing—but God knows there was plenty of passion. I liken my Defenders work to 1970’s punk rock: sure, some of those bands could only play three or four chords, and awkwardly at that, but they did it with such energy and commitment that, occasionally, they transcended themselves and created something unforgettable.
I don’t know if any of my Defenders work is unforgettable, but I’m happy to see it back in print. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I hadn’t spent three years experimenting, trying to find my voice; seeing what it is I really wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. The folks over at The Onion’s A.V. Club reviewed this collection and I pretty much agree with every word.
And now back to sorting mail, paying bills and—oh, yeah—catching up on those deadlines.
© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis