DEFIANT (stylized in all caps) was founded by Jim Shooter with an investment from The River Group following his departure from Valiant and a period during which he was contractually unable to work for other publishers. Once that period had passed and when company was funded, his first hires were Valiant veterans Winston Fowlkes (CFO), Debbie Fix (administrator/editor), JayJay Jackson (writer/editor/colorist), and David Lapham (artist).
They were joined by J. Clark Smith (Vice-President of Marketing and Development), who years earlier had been part of Shooter’s team in a bid to acquire Marvel. Artist/editor Joe James, who Shooter and Jackson had met while consulting for Milestone Media, was another early addition to the company’s roster.
“The creative spirit was amazing. And it’s all top-down. But just being around a room of artists and writers was fantastic, and they were literally all over the place. And everyone got along with each other, too,” Smith said. “While Jim had already plotted the first four issues prior to founding DEFIANT, there was a lot of development work done in my New York apartment on that title before we moved to our offices on Madison Avenue.”
Future superstar artists J.G. Jones, Charlie Adlard, and Adam Pollina signed on, as did established creators such as Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, Steve Ditko, and Alan Weiss, among others.
The company announced that the first issue of their first title, Plasm, would be released in the form of trading cards and an album from The River Group. It was written by Shooter, penciled by Lapham, inked by Mike Witherby, colored by Jackson and a team of colorists, lettered by Kenny Lopez, and edited by Deborah Purcell.
The stage for most of the story was The Org of Plasm, a living planet that conquered other worlds to sustain itself and its abilities to genetically grew (rather than make) ships and create troops. Most of The Org’s citizens subscribed to the theory that to be “mulched” – devoured by the Org – was to live on in the great cycle of life. A few rebels, though, believed that each individual life is sacred, something almost completely alien to the majority. It was into this world that a small group of previously normal humans from Earth were catapulted.
Marvel alleged – wrongly, as the courts decided – that Plasm had appropriated their Marvel UK property Plasmer. DEFIANT changed its name to Warriors of Plasm and continued. Marvel filed suit.
In the meantime, the company launched Dark Dominion (which also debuted with a Zero issue card set and album) and The Good Guys, followed by Charlemagne, Dogs of War, Prudence & Caution, and War Dancer, as well as the Warriors of Plasm: Home For the Holidays graphic novel.
The stories were all building toward a big event called Schism, which would be a universe-altering, four-issue mini-series and run through all of the company’s titles. The court case against Marvel had been decided in DEFIANT’s favor, though all was not good.
“Judge (and future Attorney General of the U.S.) Michael B. Mukasey ruled emphatically in our favor. He also warned Marvel’s lawyers, quote, ‘If you ever use my court as a business weapon again, you will sincerely regret it,’” Shooter said.
The damage was done, though. “Winning” cost DEFIANT $300,000 and delayed a multi-million-dollar deal with Mattel long enough that the deal was cancelled. DEFIANT was out of business.
Of the Schism crossover event, only Warriors of Plasm #13 and Dogs of War #5 made it to the stands.
“I didn’t know it was coming until I walked in one day and everyone was either very quiet or was crying,” colorist David Hillman said of the day the company shut down. “I looked around and asked, ‘Who died?’”
DEFIANT’s Publishing History
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