Dexter’s Lab #4 manages to pull off one of the things that the show never did: Dee Dee is officially a hero. This comic was the end of the first arc of the series, and it had some of the most legitimately touching moments I’ve seen in comics recently. We left Dexter at the end of the last issue in the clutches of Dee Dee and her army of alliterative henchgirls, and the beginning of this issue details the horrors that he endured at their hands. Eventually, a compromise is reached and brother and sister work together instead of at odds with each other. There’s going to be some spoilers in this review, as it’s the end of an arc and there’s not a good way to talk critically about it without revealing plot details.
This is the first time that I can think of when Dee Dee and Dexter, rather than outright fighting with one of them emerging a clear victor, they end up finding a middle ground with each other. Dexter acknowledges the things about Dee Dee that he is jealous of, that he doesn’t understand, and Dee Dee acknowledges that Dexter may not have been wild about her habits but that she loves him all the same. Dee Dee has a natural curiosity about Dexter’s inventions and devices and how they work, part of her natural curiosity about the world around her, and Dexter wishes that he understood the intangible things in Dee Dee’s life; he wishes he could dance. It’s a legitimately beautiful sequence, and the ongoing nature of comics (without season breaks, without having to get broken up for syndicated broadcast, etc), means that this might be a relationship beat that sticks.
We also get the comic introduction to Dexter’s nemesis, Mandark, in this issue, and bringing him into play against this unified front of Dexter and Dee Dee could be a hell of a lot of fun. I can only hope it leads to a Code Monkey issue, and I will hold out that hope for eternity. He got a little bit underused, but he still seems like he’s going to be the next Big Bad. I’ll pay the cost to read those issues, for sure.
This first arc of Dexter’s Lab has been extremely satisfying on the merits of its story and its art, beyond the potential for nostalgia. Now that there’s been a solid introductory arc, I’m excited to see where Fridolfs and Jampole are going to take the franchise. They’ve got a little lead on popular opinion; they’ve got their street cred. What kind of hijinks will Dexter and Dee Dee get into next? I don’t know, but I’ll definitely be there to find out.
Writer: Derek Fridolfs Artist: Ryan Jampole Publisher: IDW Publisher Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/2/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital