Get ready for another 500+ pages of non-stop non-team action! Essential Defenders vol. 2 collects 16 more issues of The Defenders, plus five crossover issues, four giant-size stories, and a Marvel Treasury featuring Howard the Duck. Beginning with a throwaway issue of Giant-Size Defenders 1 (which is mostly reprints anyway), the real Defenders arc starts in issue 15, with the now-settled lineup of Dr. Strange, Valkyrie (except when she's off in search of her identity), Nighthawk, and (usually) Hulk (Silver Surfer being completely gone and the Sub-Mariner almost completely). They face Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in their quest to create the ultimate mutant; the Wrecking Crew with the help of Luke Cage, Power Man; and the Sons of the Serpent in an all-out war that swells the non-team roster as never before.
Particularly welcome are the Giant-Size issues, which feature a meeting with the Son of Satan, a confrontation alongside Daredevil with the games-playing Grandmaster, a development in Nighthawk's personal life that leads to a meeting with Yellowjacket and then a faceoff with the Squadron Sinister, and a meeting with the super-cool Guardians of the Galaxy that brings the Defenders to the 30th century to free the human race from the clutches of the Badoon. This 1974-76 run of Defenders was mostly written by Len Wein and Steve Gerber, with the bulk of the pencils by Sal Buscema, and this edition, like all of Marvel's Essentials, is printed in black and white. --David Horiuchi