The Sorcerer Supreme may be a goner, but there’s still battles to fight—and people to save—in this week’s The Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers #1.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the main series that spawned this one-shot, it’s all there in the name. Doctor Strange has been killed, and his death resulted in yet another invasion of Earth by mystical dark forces who’d quite like to see it obliterated. (Seriously, how many of these plots do we need in one year?) With Earth’s premier spellcaster off the board, it’s up to the other heavy hitters of the Marvel Universe to keep things under control, and this week, the Avengers are tasked with such duties.
Although titled for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers is actually more of an Iron Man story. Shaken by recent events, Tony is forced to take the lead on a mission that has him and his team pitted against not just one Juggernaut, but many of them. (If you forgot: Juggarnaut’s powers are derived from the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, the same deity who fuels Strange’s Crimson Bands. #ItsAllConnected!) Given that he had a much closer relationship with Strange than Rogers or Danvers—until recently in the latter’s case, anyway—it makes sense for Tony to be the driving force of this adventure.
As is the case with most event tie-ins, however, I don’t how “essential” Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers is to the broader story. It’s hard to tell this early on how important any given tie-in will be to a main title, but this one feels like more of a side story than something absolutely crucial to understanding the overall plot. (Example of the contrary: Emperor Hulking definitely helped establish Teddy’s personal stakes, which the main Empyre book simply didn’t have enough time or space for.) While it’s nice to see how Strange’s death is impacting Tony, it doesn’t really seem like it’ll be all that relevant in the end, and he already has his own monthly title that could be utilized to explore such emotions.
The issue itself is perfectly competent. Alex Paknadel’s script moves briskly and has the characters acting like themselves, while Ryan Bodenheim’s art is clean and appealing with Rachelle Rosenberg’s bright colors. Tie-ins like these can be tricky for a creator because they’re largely dependent on overall interest in their main event title; anyone looking for extra material out of Death of Doctor Strange will probably be satisfied with this one. But even in a slighter week for Marvel (especially with technical issues delaying most of their output through to February), I don’t think this issue would be most people’s first or second choice to pull, especially with a premium $4.99 price tag attached.