Since my review of the story “Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment” was more a Doctor Doom story than a Strange story, I decided to review a purely Doctor Strange Tale. But before I tackle “Doctor Strange: The Oath”, I figured why not take a look at the 1st issue of his new ongoing series(his first in 19 years).
THE COVER: I’m not sure how I feel about. He’s carrying a large axe and the background is in bleached out yellow. While it has images in the background you can’t tell what they are. The wrist and hand on his right arm also appear to be off. They look too “deconstructed”. I assume he is holding an axe because this will be a more up close and personal (physical) interpretation of the good Doctor.
The Issue itself: The first page recounts Doctor Stephen Strange’s origin story. I have to be honest. after reading three Dr Strange tales the last three weeks this is becoming redundant. That being said the majority of the people reading this issue either don’t know who he is or his origin story. Thankfully it’s only one page. If this were written by someone like Brian Michael Bendis it would’ve taken 6 - 8 issues. The story begins after that with the good doctor battling a tribe of entities called the “SOUL EATERS”. I really liked the surreal imagery of the creatures especially the teddy bear. After that threat is taken care of we get to see the world how Dr Strange sees it. Evidently supernatural apparitions are around all the time even interacting with everyone. It’s just that the normal people don’t see them. I don’t believe that this has ever been visualized like this in a MARVEL title before.
We then see Strange meet up with some other purveyors of the mystic arts at a supernatural version of “HAPPY HOUR”. Shaman, Scarlet Witch, Monako: The Prince of Magic and Brother Voodoo(Who I thought was dead(after he became Sorcerer Supreme) I guess he got better). After some dialogue he goes back to his house(which doesn’t have any knobs) and meets his newest client(Zelma Stanton) who it seems has something nasty going on in her head.
Jason Aaron: I was a bit worried at first because Dr Strange was coming off just like Tony Stark. This is a real problem I have with Marvel lately. Peter Quill(Star Lord) & Tony Stark(Iron Man) are written to be Robbert Downey Jr. clones. Despite what people think these characters did have distinctive personalities before the MARVEL Studio films came out. Well anyway, while there was some that early on it didn’t come off as strong by the end of the issue(Tony Stark & Stephen Strange do have a couple simularities: Huge ego, a genius at “sometime”). In previous appearances Doctor Strange comes off as being really stiff and overly serious. I appreciated the amount of humor that permeated in this issue. I also liked the fact that based on the brief cameos of the characters listed above it looks as if the good doctor will be interacting more with the Magical and supernatural community(I wonder will “Magik” pop up at some point).
Chris Bachalo: Despite how I felt about the cover of this issue I did like the artwork. When I heard that he was doing artwork for this series I thought “Perfect”. Just check out his collaborations with Neil Gaiman for examples of him doing something otherworldly. I’ve always thought one of his strengths was creature design and he shows that off here. The artwork here has a dreamlike quality you would see in “SANDMAN”. One issue I have though is the continuity between pages 5 & 6. It’s a bit confusing on how Dr. Strange went from fighting a cravenness tree to making out with a dreadlocked snake woman. That said I felt he visualized the other worldliness in the story well. A great example is when Stephen is walking down the street and he’s in color as well as the creatures but the normal people and the background is in black & white. The contrast in color was well realized(pages 10 - 11).
So far so good. It’ll be interesting to see what the big threat is and when it will make itself shown. Per the characters in this issue it seems “something” is chasing mystical entities from their realm into ours. Right now it looks like the art is slightly ahead of the writing. The horror and comedy parts are flowing well so far. As long as Jason Aaron doesn’t “Robert Downey-ize” the character of Doctor Stephen Strange this could be the best new comic this year.