Comic Review: Doctor Strange

Olivia Mistretta, Staff Editor

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Doctor Strange, one of the newest heroes to be added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has existed long before the Doctor Strange movie that came out in the early November of 2016. The Sorcerer Supreme of New York City, Dr. Stephen Strange wasn’t always a wizard or a magic user. Before the almost-fatal car crash that crippled the nerves in his hands for life, Stephen was an arrogant, world-renowned neurosurgeon. However, his injuries rendered him incapable of ever operating again. In his search for a cure, Stephen stumbled upon an ancient magical temple where he learned the ways of magic from his teacher, the Ancient One. Making a few friends along the way, most notably a fellow student named Wong, Stephen’s arrogance became worked out of him after years of rigorous magical training. After the movie, I’ve always wanted to see more of his character, and my new love for comics has provided me for an opportunity. In this review I will be discussing the Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo “run” or the 20 issues he wrote about Doctor Strange, separated into four volumes (books or trade paperbacks) which are as follows- Doctor Strange: The Way of The Weird, Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic, Doctor Strange: Blood in The Aether, and Doctor Strange: Mr. Misery. Volumes 1 and 2 were published in 2016 and volumes 3 and 4 were published in 2017.

To start with, I will say that this is probably my favorite interpretation of Stephen in the comics so far. He’s obviously very different than he is in the movie, and the comics are usually always filled with more angst. However, the comics are told from his point of view, so there’s this new insight into his mind. The story in the Jason Aaron run basically follows Stephen as he fights for the entire magic world itself. Book 1, The Way of The Weird, gives readers the perspective of daily life for the Sorcerer Supreme- a messy, magic filled home, terrible food (he can’t eat normal food anymore after the years of toll magic has taken on him) and his nonstop job of helping average people deal with magical entities. Also, enter Zelma Stanton, Stephen’s newest friend, a non-wizard librarian who helps Stephen organize his chaotic library. Book 2, The Last Days of Magic, is where the climax happens. A race of science-preaching and magic-hating aliens called the Empirikul show up and basically destroy most of the magic world, leaving Stephen as one of the only Sorcerers Supreme left.

Continuing on, Stephen has to defeat the Empirikul eventually- and he does, with great cost to himself physically. Book 3, Blood in The Aether, is all about Stephen and his journey to rebuild the magical world. Not only this, but many of the other wizards  in the city perished at the hands of the Empirikul, which makes Stephen’s job of defeating evil magical entities even more difficult. To boot, his best friend Wong goes missing towards the end of the book. Finally, Book 4, Mr. Misery, details Stephen’s tireless quest to bring back his most loyal friend. Little does he know, but a magical monster formed from Stephen’s own pain and sorrow has possessed Wong in his absence.

For a while, Stephen and Zelma are trapped on a mystical island in the Bermuda triangle where Stephen is poisoned. Accidentally transferring the poison to herself with a spell from his book, Zelma enables Stephen to save them both. After curing Zelma, she agrees they must finish their quest to find Wong. All of a sudden, Stephen’s past patients start developing brain tumors once again. He calls up Jane Foster, an old colleague, who is disguised as Thor, and they operate on all of the patients once more. This turns out to be a plot by the monster possessing Wong to try to get Stephen alone, and he is faced with the demons of his own repression. After a lengthy and taxing battle, Stephen emerges the victor and Wong is saved (as well as the patients). A thrilling story comes to an end, and the Sorcerer Supreme can go back to fixing to the magical world.

Overall, I really enjoyed Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange. The art was fantastic and really detailed. One of my favorite parts was a small quest in Book 3 where Stephen gets trapped in limbo- in which the entrance is comically located next to the Newark Airport. I strongly recommend this run for anyone who wants to see more Doctor Strange complete with some darker themes than the movie, lots of cool fight scenes, and some really awesome artwork. I give these comics a 9.5/10 and I hope to see more of Doctor Strange in the future!

 

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