Giant-Size Defenders: Eelar Moves in Mysterious Ways! (#5) – Steve Gerber

4 out of 5

A few Giant-Sizes and half a year’s worth of issues in, GS Defenders #5 finds writer Steve Gerber – though assisted / plotted by several others, according to the credits – finding his rhythm on the book, having done some clean up and set up with Valkyrie and Nighthawk, gotten some topical grousing out of the way, and establishing a fun rhythm of patter between Dr. Strange, Hulk, and the rest of the non-team’s various hangerons. And now: The Guardians of the Galaxy! (Yeah, y’know, the 70s ones.)

“Eelar Moves in Mysterious Ways” gives the writer an outlet for some of his sillier tendencies, with the manifesto-spouting rhymes of electrified fishman threat Eelar, and also an appreciably subtle (for comics) bit of commentary, via the same villain’s lash-out-at-anything attack style. Into this we get an assortment of colorfully dialogued characters, continually thrown in to interesting and entertaining scenarios. It’s also the first Defenders ish that doesn’t feel like it has to use some lame excuse to waylay someone. I mean, sure, Eelar’s electrified skin maybe shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it gets magically enhanced thanks to “temporal displacement” and radiation and whatnot, so it works, and with all of the various characters swirling about in different capacities – Nighthawk coasting around town, thinking through recent events; Doc and crew investigating some glowing lights in the harbor from which Eelar emerges; the Guardians visiting from the future and spreading out in modern day New York to find a particular item – the story never feels stuck, with Steve masterfully laying a cohesive storyline atop all of this, and relating it in a manner such that no part of the tale feels like filler.

…Leaving the only weak point as artist Don Heck. After his strong turn in the last Giant-Size, while the opening pages have some moody promise, he’s soon back to his more rushed style and sloppy figures – pages that should be dynamic, based on their events, often aren’t, and man, a couple of these panels just don’t look all that great. Heck can be the right fit at times, and I’ve dug his workmanlike consistency at those times, but more complex tales can elude him, as is the case here. Oh well.