by Mike A. Bryan, Staff Writer

Over the past couple of years, Marvel and Netflix have been working together to produce a number of series based on a semi-popular group of superheroes, many of them relatively unknown to the general public. “Daredevil” came first, and viewers were struck by the story, the character development, action sequences, and overall vivacity of the series. Daredevil, for those of you who do not know, is a blind lawyer with heightened senses, and is one of the most naturally gifted martial artists in the world. His extremely likable character, combined with the flow and development is impressive.

Unfortunately, the next series that followed was “Jessica Jones,” which was only mildly entertaining, and rated very low on the vivacity level. While Jones’ powers aren’t fully clear, we know she is tremendously strong, practically invincible, and can fly to a limited extent. While her character is intriguing, the storylines are overly dramatic, making it too obvious that they are trying for a female audience.

Fortunately, for all of us, next up in the series was “Luke Cage,” who is completely invincible, incredibly strong, and has one of the kindest, gentlest hearts of any superhero ever seen. In this series, everything is well-done, even down to the soundtrack, which Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest supervised. Luke Cage is completely believable, something that many actors who have attempted to portray superheroes have not been able to accomplish.

Quite disappointingly, the next series was “Iron Fist.” There is not much to say about it that is good – it is all too melodramatic, it alters the original storyline in odd ways, does not have enough badass fighting scenes, and just generally disappoints. The best thing about the show was Rosario Dawson’s recurring character, and she is not even a superhero – but rather an emergency room nurse. “Iron Fist” focuses on his fight with The Hand, an evil criminal organization. One of the connecting threads between the characters is their common hatred of The Hand, which has been in existence for hundreds of years, and has affected each character’s life in some way.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Netflix released the series that all of these individual shows have been building up to – “The Defenders,” which combines the powers of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist to fight the The Hand’s sinister organization.

The series does not start off very strongly. The first three episodes are used to build up to the main characters’ meeting. To be honest, it is kind of disappointing that it took Netflix three whole episodes to set up the story of “The Defenders” enough to bring all of the characters together. There is a lot of overly-dramatic filler in the first episodes that almost ruins the whole series out of sheer boredom. However, in episode four, the main characters finally come together and there is a glimpse of the possibilities of their greatness. Each character is completely unique, with complex backstories, and the combination makes for a great watch. There is this prevailing feeling of ultimate respect between the characters which makes it believable and entertaining.

In the next few episodes, the story accelerates and becomes much more exciting. Each show has enough action sequences to balance out the decent amount of drama with the character and storyline development. The finale is exciting and everything that one might want in the last episode of the season, giving teasers of things to come. We can only hope that Netflix will continue with the show. Fans of other Marvel series, comic book aficionados, and anyone who enjoys a good superhero story should love this series. It deserves a “thumbs up” in your Netflix account for sure.