WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Defenders #3, available now from Marvel.
When one of the most classic villains in the history of the Marvel Universe returns to pose a threat to time itself, the task of stopping them falls on Doctor Strange and his team of Defenders. Like so many other versions of the team, the current roster of heroes has been assembled by fate itself — or at least the whims of raw, unhinged magic. It is this same force that brought them together which has also sent them hurtling back through time, and in the darkest corner of the Fifth Cosmos, it is what makes them stronger than any opponent.
Doctor Strange and his new Defenders had only just defeated the Sixth Cosmos’ Devourer of Worlds when the same mystical force that had sent them there in the first place reappeared to thrust them even further back in time. Far from the age of science they had just left, the Defenders now find themselves in the dank, dark world of the Fifth Cosmos, the iteration of the Multiverse where magic as we know it was born. It isn’t long after they have arrived that Carlo Zota, the mad scientist who started their journey, reveals to the evil, ancient sorcerer Moridun precisely what is at stake. With this newfound knowledge in hand, Moridun sets out to defeat the Defenders in a bid to bend them to his will and remake the heroes into his superpowered army. As intimidating as the Cthulu-esque villain might be, it is evident from the start that there is something about the Defenders that has him trembled in fear. Luckily, Doctor Strange knows exactly what that is, and how to use it against their new foe.
As Moridun explains to the captive Carlo Zota in Defenders #3 by Al Ewing, Javier Rodriguez and VC’s Joe Caramagna, the foundation of magic in the Marvel Universe lies in the five elements which comprise it. These elements, all represented by various signs, sigils and colors are individually useful, but together they become something far greater. In the case of the Defenders themselves, they together are quite literally a living spell, each representing a color of magic that forms a powerful rainbow on the battlefield alongside one another. While Moridun is bound by the rules of magic, Doctor Strange has allowed it to run free throughout the course of his recent endeavors.
This wild form of magic has proven to be just what the heroes needed to get where they were needed most — not to mention to become the team they are now in the first place, yet it also leaves the heroes unchained by the typical limitations that magic carries with it. They might not all be sorcerers or mystic beings, but all of the Defenders have officially become magical, and that looks to be just what they need to defeat Moridun where he stands.
Apart from giving the Defenders an edge over their current adversary, their status as living vessels for wild magic comes with some particularly strange possibilities. It was with the power of the tarot that Doctor Strange called the heroes to him, though fans have already seen Silver Surfer be replaced by Taaia once his duties were fulfilled in the Sixth Cosmos. That being the case, it’s all but certain that the rotating roster effect will continue as the forces of magic deem necessary. With any luck, these Defenders won’t find themselves dragged into harm’s way by the magic that has made them its new home.
Marvel Artists Pay Tribute to Classic Covers in Variant Collection
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