Containing a somewhat disconcertingly over-sexualised opening third, which focuses upon the ruler of the Dream Dimension trying to continually entice “the world’s greatest surgeon” into bed with a veritable harem of half-naked beauties, Jason Aaron’s narrative for Issue Thirteen of “Doctor Strange” must have rather bemused its audience with his whimsical approach to one of the Sorcerer Supreme’s “major enemies”. Indeed, even the Dread Dormammu’s horrifying assault upon Karl Amadeus Mordo with a swarm of large, red-eyed vicious rats is seemingly played for laughs, despite the Baron clearly being in fear for his very life having unsuccessfully sworn to the “Master of the Mindless Ones” that “Strange will die at my hands. No one elses.”
However, rather than make the Alabama-born writer’s storyline an enjoyably witty journey through Nightmare’s “astral realm created by mankind’s subconscious psyche”, the persistent humour, potentially inappropriate and juvenile in places, quickly grates as soon as one realises that in belittling the nigh-omnipotent demon’s trap, the American author has wasted a great opportunity to pen a genuinely macabre, tension-packed confrontation between the two ever-battling magic-users. Certainly, it seems odd for the Inkpot Award-winner to believe that the one-time Fear Lord would plausibly try and “break” the Master of the Mystic Arts by simply increasing the number of young women who want to sleep with the titular character in each and every scene?
Similarly as bemusing is just how Doctor Strange actually evades the dimension Everinnye demon’s well-laid snare and somehow subsequently turns the tables upon his white-faced foe. The Defender clearly states within this twenty-page periodical’s text that he doesn’t have “a special magic spell to save the day”, and so simply weaves “a new” one in order for the “four billion people dreaming on the planet Earth” to stop doing so. This apparently means that the Ancient One’s protégé then needs to survive all of their nightmares, yet it is never explained how he actually does this or acquires enough mystical power with which to physically dwarf the understandably deflated Nightmare; “No. No, What… What just happened? What did he… No!!!”
Resultantly, the strongest element to “Night Of Four Billion Nightmares” undoubtedly lies with the artwork of Chris Bachalo. “Internationally recognized as one of the most popular artists in the comic industry”, the Canadian Illustrator really does a cracking job of pencilling the skull-laden walkways of the Dream Dimension, and despite his work being inconsistently inked by five different people, provides plenty of pulse-pounding terror in his drawings of huge venomous vipers, knife-wielding killer-clowns and a nostalgic nod to Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”.