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A character confronts some kind of four-headed Hulk, with each of its faces speaking a different word balloon, filled only with scribbles of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in Defenders #3 (2021). Image: Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez/Marvel Comics

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Doctor Strange just discovered the most powerful kind of comic book magic

[maniacal laughter]

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Al Ewing and Javier Rodríguez’s Defenders has been a gorgeous book from the jump, a supernatural romp in which Doctor Strange and some magically selected companions flit through the multiverse on a quest to stop a bad guy and corral a bunch of wild magic. But with this issue, Ewing and Rodríguez put a very different kind of power into its characters hands.

In fact, one might say it’s the fundamental underpinning of all of comic book magic.

Yes, I’m talking about the four color printing process.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)

Defenders #3

Taaia (yellow), Cloud (cyan), Harpy (magenta), Doctor Strange (white), and the Masked Raider (black) represent the magical sign of Five, represented by the four colors of the color printing process and white, the color of the page, in Defenders #3 (2021). Image: Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez/Marvel Comics

This is the kind of metatext that gets me going: The power of this team of Avengers, Strange explains, comes from how they represent the four houses of the Tarot and the Secret Fire, thus forming the five elements of the pentagram, the Sign of Five. They are “all the colors” of magic — which Rodríguez represents throughout the issue as yellow, cyan, magenta, black, and white.

That is, the four colors of the four printing process that combine to make all the colors on a printed page — and white, the color of the page itself. Whatta chef’s kiss.

Arkham City: The Order of the World #1

Ratcatcher  holds a knife to the throat of Dr. Jocasta Joy, explaining that he has to eat the child in order to become a rat so that Amadeus Arkham can’t find him. She calmly tries to talk him down, until he is suddenly tased in Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 (2021). Image: Dan Watters, Dani/DC Comics

I quite enjoyed the first issue of Arkham City: The Order of the World, thanks in large part to the work of artist Dani and colorist Dave Stewart, who are bringing some real classic Sandman vibes to the series. Most Arkham Asylum stories are eventually about how everybody who gets put in the Asylum — staff included — slowly goes madder just from being there, but Order of the World seems like it’s pointed somewhere different than that old well, and I’m curious to see where.

Amazing Spider-Man #75

A technological spider-gadget unfurls and snares Spider-Man until he cannot move. “Please relax,” it says in a recorded voice, “You will be released in one hour. Please use this time to reflect on your life.” in Amazing Spider-Man #75 (2021). Image: Zeb Wells, Patrick Gleason/Marvel Comics

I would say that Amazing Spider-Man #75 is a great place for new readers to pick up the book but honestly... it really feels like a continuation of Nick Spencer’s just-concluded run, which was spectacularly dense and continuity-heavy. The quips, though, are excellent.

Dirtbag Rapture #1

“Okay, fine,” says a woman in the passenger seat of a car. “I’ve been dead a thousand years. I hate Paris, I work for a demon, and I need you to help me get out of this.” “And that copthing back there?” asks the driver, a large woman with dyed hair. “That was one of the good guys. You call them angels.” The two women are driving a police car that’s slightly on fire in Dirtbag Rapture #1 (2021). Image: Christopher Sebela, Kendall Goode/Oni Press

Dirtbag Rapture begins with one premise: An asshole protagonist who can house restless spirits within her mind makes a living by reluctantly transporting ghosts that are tethered to the location where they died to anywhere nicer. Then on the final page, as you can see above, things get more complicated.

Eternals: Celestia

Ajak the eternal argues with Ghost Rider about how the Avengers are using a Celestial’s corpse as their home base in Eternals: Celestia (2021). Image: Kieron Gillen, Kei Zama/Marvel Comics

The Eternals are doing a bunch of one-shots while the rest of their ongoing series gets ready for its second arc, and they’re all really good. This week, two Eternals face the fact that the Avengers have hollowed out the corpse of one of their gods to use as a headquarters. Which is rude.

The Nice House on the Lake #5

All ten thirty-something protagonists of The Nice House on the Lake sail across the lake in a speedboat at sunset in The Nice House on the Lake #5 (2021). Image: James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno/DC Comics

This is just to say that DC’s creator-owned horror comic The Nice House on the Lake still rips extremely hard, especially the art.

New Mutants #22

Illyana Rasputin/Magik slays brood alien after brood alien in flashes of blue, green, magenta, and purple, before one of them impales her on their claw and she floats through darkness with the Shadow King in New Mutants #22 (2021). Image: Vita Ayala, Rod Reis/Marvel Comics

Speaking of great art, Rod Reis is just killing it over on New Mutants, as the gang gets trapped in the Shadow King’s illusions. Gorgeous, gorgeous work.


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