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Doctor Strange meditates upside down, his face framed in images of tarot cards, wands, swords, cups, and pentacles, as well as incense smoke in Defenders #1 (2021). Image: Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez/Marvel Comics

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The new Doctor Strange comic will catapult your eyeballs to another dimension

No defense against this stunning art

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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.

I’ve been a fan of Javier Rodríguez since back in the days of Batgirl: Year One, but I had not quite put it together that he was working on the new Defenders series.

So imagine my surprise to crack open Defenders #1 to find that he’s gone Full Ditko. Rodríguez blends trippy and diegetic magic visuals with non-diegetic stuff like a flashback illustrated through the steam rising from a cup of tea. It’s a ride.

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 #1

Doctor Strange opens his eyes, as he meditates cross legged (and floating upside down) to realize that there is a revolver pointed at this head. The hand holding the revolver extends from a pixelated portal, the portal leads across the exquisitely detailed room of the Sanctum Sanctorum to the Masked Raider in Defenders #1 (2021). Image: Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez/Marvel Comics

Marvel Cinematic Universe fans may associate the Defenders with street-level heroes like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones — but the Marvel Comics superteam began as a team book for Marvel’s most popular weirdos. Doctor Strange, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer; basically anybody who really, really didn’t seem like a team player.

Defenders #1 recruits a brand new team via the medium of Doctor Strange’s tarot deck, which is also used as a visual motif throughout the issue. If that’s not enough to wet your whistle, writer Al Ewing seems to be picking up a few threads from his soon-to-be completed run on Immortal Hulk, including Betty Ross as the Red Harpy, and the idea that the last person alive in the universe becomes the next universe’s Galactus.

Batman: Urban Legends #6

Tim Drake/Robin squares up back to back with his old friend Bernard. “He probably knows. He’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met. But tell him...” Bernard says, “I wish we could have finished our date.” in Batman: Urban Legends #6 (2021). Image: Meghan Fitzmartin, Belén Ortega/DC Comics

Give me a moment to take off my professional journalist hat. OK.


Batman ’89 #1

Trick-or-treaters in Gotham City are dressed as various characters from Tim Burton movies, including Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Mars Attacks in Batman ’89 #1 (2021). Image: Sam Hamm, Joe Quinones/DC Comics

There’s a lot to like in Batman ’89 #1, as the series makes it clear that it’ll be exploring Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent in a way the movies never did, and introducing Barbara Gordon and a new Robin! But also artist Joe Quinones is doing his Quinones-y best with these Tim Burton references.

Mamo #2

Magic swirls around two teens as the defend themselves from a rocky projectile. The palm-sized rock hits the ground, and, with a tiny grunt, stands up on two tiny feet, revealing a grumpy little face, in Mamo #2 (2021). Image: Sas Milledge/Boom Studios

I am fully enchanted with Sas Milledge’s Mamo. Small town magic! Cool fae designs! Teen witches with girlfriend vibes! This wonderful little rock man!

Runaways #38

“Take it,” Says Niko, handing Karolina the Staff of One. “Don’t bring it back.” The two girlfriends embrace in a passionate kiss in Runaways #38 (2021). Image: Rainbow Rowell, Andrés Genolet/Marvel Comics

And Runaways once again enters hibernation with this final issue of Rainbow Rowell’s run on the characters. As per usual for the series, we end on a total cliffhanger with everybody’s emotional status up in the air. Still, the final pages of the issue tease some further developments — so maybe we’ll see those threads picked up in other books? I live in hope.

Campisi #1

“People of this wretched village, hear me! I’ve come for vengeance!” roars a huge dragon, as onlookers record with their smartphones in Campisi #1 (2021). Image: James Patrick, Marco Locati/Image Comics

OK, so, Campisi is a story set in a modern world where a dwindling population of sentient dragons are sort of ... a regular pest/natural disaster? And in this small mafia-run town, the gang’s lowliest enforcer/problem solver now has to solve the problem of an actual dragon who wants to kill his boss. I will certainly be reading a second issue.


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