Comic Review – Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Locks are magic. Doors are magic. I am magic” – Merlin

Time for Marvel to start cashing in on the positive reception to Doctor Strange! There were two new Doctor Strange comics released this week, and I picked up Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1:

  • Writer – Robbie Thompson
  • Penciler – Javier Rodriguez
  • Inker – Alvaro Lopez
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Cover – Rafael Albuquerque and John Rauch
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Cover art by Albuquerque & Rauch

I picked this of the two new issues this week largely due to the cover. The intense feel to it and promise of a range of diverse characters appealed to me. The plot is kicked off by Merlin, as a fan of the King Arthur tales I’m always happy to see the classic sorcerer/magician pitch in. After setting things up with the King of the Britons he turns up to “recruit” Stephen Strange. The set up promises an epic battle across time, bringing in every Sorcerer Supreme from across the ages (including Isaac Newton, apparently?). I’m sure as always Marvel will brush over the majority of any obvious plot holes or paradoxes created.

The comic feels a little reminiscent and the first issue of Jason Aaron’s current Doctor Strange run where they reintroduce him, his powers (if limited for now) and his struggle against the magic forces of evil. Especially how so few people are able to tell what he does or even see the battles he rages. As someone reading the main Doctor Strange comic it’s good to see the continuity held up with the main series.

 

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Art by Rodriguez, Lopez. Bellaire & Caramagna

The art is vibrant and intense throughout. There are plenty of large panels packed full of action and Bellaire’s colours shine through. Caramagna’s lettering does a skillful job of leading the reader through the larger of these spreads, especially a wonderfully depicted page of Merlin and Doctor Strange travelling through time. The Forgotten is given an appropriately distorted set of speech bubbles and letters to help it feel as corrupted and evil as it should, and the overall design is both freaky and great.

So many Sorcerer Supremes though, of course means there are a hell of a lot of hands. Clearly it’s time to review them. What I appreciate is how each character’s hands help communicate their personality, Merlin is wise, Doctor Strange somehow both in control and out of his depth at the same time, and the Ancient One full of himself and cocky (makes a lot of sense in context). Thanks to this the hand drawing skills are scoring well, especially when they’re so large at times. 8.75/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I wasn’t sure when I picked this up if I’d stick to it for the long run. After reading it I will be, I very much enjoyed it. As for downsides, the battle at the end feels a little unsatisfactory where it’s left, it would have been nice to have more of this though the issue did have to accommodate a fair bit of set up as well which took up panel space.

Score: 8.75 Q’Uiven’s out of 10

Comic Review – Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

“So now I walk alone through the nameless reaches of the netherworld. Each day weirder than the last. Each new challenge liable to end with my doom or damnation or final descent into screaming madness. But you know what? I’d be lying like hell if I said I didn’t love this.” – Doctor Strange

Warning: minor spoilers.

While Adam struggles to maintain his sanity with his thesis, I’ll be stepping in to have a go at the weekly comic book review! And boy was I spoilt for choice this week! Marvel are getting into their ‘All New All Different’ series with a load of new issue #1s, designed for people to jump in on and become hooked. It certainly worked on me… Today I’ll be reviewing Doctor Strange #1, written by Jason Aaron and pencils and colours by Chris Bachalo, with inks from Tim Townsend, Al Vey and Mark Irwin, and letters from Cory Petit. This is one of the comics there’s been a bit of fuss and hype about in certain parts of the internet. Partially because Benedict Cumberbatch has taken up the role for the MCU and partially because the Sorcerer Supreme has been depicted wielding a massive axe along with his magic. This can only be a fun development.

Anyway, onto the main review. I picked this up only having a rough knowledge of Doctor Strange: He’s the Avenger with magical powers who isn’t the Scarlet Witch. That was about it. And considering the massive expansive history behind nearly every Marvel character it could have been easy for this comic to be impenetrable to new readers. But no, the first page is one of the best openings I’ve seen in a first issue for a comic book (Saga would also stand out… for very different reasons…), it gives you a narration from Doctor Strange with the background decorated with panels from his old comics. These panels are unedited so they have that cool vintage comic look about them. You get a good feel for the type of guy Steven Strange is and an overview of his backstory. Oh, and unlike Doctor Fate for DC Doctor Strange is an actual Doctor.

doc strange 2The art style naturally shifts to a more modern tone right away, Chris Bachalo’s art is top quality as you’d expect, although you rarely see the character eyes in the way they’re drawn! The story itself is pure set up, the migration before the storm as we see Strange deal with a variety of supernatural entities. We also get a feel for his place in society, unlike say Captain America he walks down the street and nobody takes notice. At least until he appears to start talking to himself and shuffling/moving in a weird way, then people just avoid him or are weirded out by him. Actually, if you see him doing that he’s likely going toe to toe with some big horrible magical nasty that feeds on our souls, but he’s treated like a crazy drunk. He makes the point that he isn’t surprised by this, and in fact if you see a drunk or a homeless person talking to themselves, give them a bit of cash, they could actually be saving you from soul devouring monsters!

We also get a look at his magical allies, his supernatural hang out bar and a feel for how magic works in this world (warning for anyone wanting to give it a go: you’ll need to drown a lot of bunnies! This is the price you don’t see Harry Potter pay on screen…)

Finally, we get an epilogue that sets up the direction of the rest of the series. Which looks very cool.

If you’re a long-time fan of Doctor Strange though, I could see this being a bit of a slow comic. It’s designed to get the new readers in and there’s a lot of getting to know the Doctor, who long term fans of course already do. That being said, it’s a very good set up and I’m sure will rock as a series, so read it anyway!

Final Verdict

Well done Marvel, I’m hooked. I’ll be following this series and if you want to get hyped for the upcoming film, like Doctor Strange or just want a superhero with more magic and less muscles then this is perfect for you!

Final Score – 9 Psyche Leeches out of 10!