Defenders # 4 Review

Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: It’s Dormammu’s World—You’re Just Living In It!

Written by: Keith Giffen & J.M. Dematteis
Art by: Kevin Maguire
Colored by: Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This book is out there. This book is so far out there that last issue, the Hulk got laid. It’s even mentioned this issue that the Hulk is, um, well-endowed. While an obvious case of too much information, this soon to be infamous bit of trivia proves something about the creative team; there is no place they will not stoop to get a laugh from the readers. If laughs are what matters, this book is prime entertainment.

If there is more to the reader’s life than the odd guffaw, chuckle, or snert, then this book might seem overblown in many ways. The running joke of the Silver Surfer doing… nothing might be grating to his long-suffering fans. The extra-caustic Namor/Dr. Strange interactions certainly fly in the face of their long alliance. The softer insecure version of the “Dread” Dormammu shown in this series would certainly take his cult fans by surprise. The frequent use of various characters as sexual playthings (the Hulk and Clea in the past two issues) certainly skews the book away from younger readers, and might even give their parents pause in places despite the cover’s T+ label. A lot of creative slack is required if the reader is to fully enjoy the book as it was intended.

Is the issue enjoyable as a comic book, regardless of the bawdy and character-lampooning humor? It is this issue. A few interesting character reversals, a neat brawl or two, and some genuinely insightful dialogue (is it still dialogue when someone argues with their evil twin?) make the story interesting enough to forgive the creative team’s harebrained approach. While a single character is wasted, (Surfer, again) the hoops the other characters need to vault through just to survive maintain enough reader interest to compensate. While the lack of any real plan of attack or hope of success certainly hampers the upcoming final installment of this book, the corner the Defenders have been painted into creates an intriguing situation. Even non-comedy buffs should check back next month to see how our bickering heroes manage to get out from under everything.

The art this issue maintains the baroque and warm slant on things that runs rampant throughout this mini-series. The women are shapely. The men are buff without being ridiculously oversized. The demons, doppelgangers, and distorted settings score points for their level of graphic detail and self-consistency while simultaneously losing a point or two for being utterly derivative of other stories like Marvel’s Infinity War, What IF? or even Exiles. The use of a bright varied color scheme for the heroes and a drab gray and scarlet palette for their evil twins is a nice touch despite making their normal identities a bit harder to fathom. The power effects for this issue’s Strange battle seem perfectly chosen, unlike other instances where his mystic bolts appear either too gimmicky or too fluorescent.