The Good (Magical) Doctor is back in Doctor Strange #1, but not everybody is happy to see him once again in the flesh.
Picking up shortly where the Clea-centric Strange left off, Stephen Strange has returned to the land of the living, and he knows his purpose: help the Marvel Universe out with their various magic-related woes. With Earth currently lousy with all sorts of creatures and beings from other realms, he’s got his work cut out with him (which, weirdly, is not at all dissimilar from the plot of the Lilo & Stitch animated series), not to mention various other malevolent forces who wish harm on both the world and the Stranges themselves. So, just another Tuesday for Stephen.
One thing you’ve always got to consider with a new #1 is how well it sets up a new series while also being an entertaining read on its own, and I think Doctor Strange #1 manages to hit that tall order rather well. A lot of this issue is spent reacclimating Stephen (as well as the reader) to his new status quo, which puts him more or less in his “default” groove of fighting magical crime wherever it arises. But my personal favorite sequence in this issue is the one where he checks in with various characters from the broader universe; it’s just fun to learn that Spider-Man may have accidentally had his soul stolen by a demonic gambler, or see Daredevil struggling against a haunted trash monster.
I also really enjoy seeing the dynamic between him and his (formerly estranged, currently un-estranged) wife Clea, who just very recently assumed his role as Sorcerer Supreme of Earth in his absence. They’re a classic will they/won’t they relationship that sometimes seems more “won’t” than “will,” and I like the brewing tension between them as established in their varying opinions on how to fight evil. With Charlize Theron set to portray the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, there’s never been a better time for Marvel to explore Clea’s character, and I’m glad they’re not just tossing her aside now that her time in the spotlight has ended. Doctor Strange is technically the third part of writer Jed MacKay’s Strange saga, following The Death of Doctor Strange and Clea’s aforementioned solo series, and there’s definitely been a sense of continuity in the way they’ve progressed akin to that of Jason Aaron’s Thor, moving through distinct series and status quos but all clearly telling one serialized story. You could jump into this one cold and not miss too much, but you’d definitely appreciate the scope of what’s occured thus far if you’ve been following it from the beginning. And as with any series featuring Doctor Strange at the helm, there’s plenty of trippy and invariably beautiful (or beautifully groteseque) visuals to be seen, this time done by artist Pasqual Ferry.
Rounding out the package is a backup story by MacKay and Andy Macdonald featuring W.A.N.D., the magic division of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it’s a delight. Now boasting Wong as a member, the sequence plays out like a post-credits scene of sorts, offering another perspective that quickly ties back into the main story, leaving the reader with an intriguing hook to continue from in the next issue.
Doctor Strange #14.99
- Writer: Jed MacKay
- Artist: Pasqual Ferry, Andy Macdonald (backup)
- Color Artist: Matt Hollingsworth, Ian Herring (backup)
- Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
- Cover Artist: Alex Ross
- Editor: Darren Shan
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment