Doctor Strange #14

4

Poor

DoctorStrange14-minDespite containing an abundance of the zaniness this title’s 39,390 strong audience would almost certainly have anticipated from a twenty page-periodical featuring “the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats”, Jason Aaron’s script for Issue Fourteen of “Doctor Strange” probably still perturbed plenty of its readers with its central plot revoltingly revolving around people repeatedly vomiting up a portion of “bacon-wrapped bacon” which “comes from swine that was possessed by demons for 400 days.” In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more grotesque narrative for a “kid-friendly” “Marvel Worldwide” publication than the one the Alabama-born author presents within the covers of “A Gut Full Of Hell”, and certainly at its time of printing must have caused some of its followers to yearn back for the more serious sorcery of his earlier story-arc “The Last Days Of Magic”.

Of course, that isn’t to say that this third instalment to “Blood In The Aether” doesn’t contain any peril or threat to the former “preeminent” surgeon’s life. Far from it, as Satana’s “half-digested slab of hell bacon” not only causes Stephen to literally sweat blood, but, once it has “worked its way through… [his] delicate, mortal digestive system”, will actually kill him and give his soul to the devil’s daughter. However, any tension or scintillating suspense which such a harrowing plot would ordinarily create is worryingly dispelled by all the frustrating, tongue-in-cheek shenanigans which disappointingly accompany it; “Okay, but… I’m definitely writing your diner a strongly worded Yelp review.”

Foremost of these disconcerting distractions is the Harvey Award recipient’s treatment of Master Pandemonium. A major foe of the West Coast Avengers in the Mid-Eighties and able to “summon demons” after unwisely making a pact with Mephisto, this “master of the demon Riglevio” and holder of the Amulet of Azmodeus is rather ungraciously utilised as little more than a comic-relief cook whose arms persistently verbally abuse him. Indeed, one of this book’s most bemusing disappointments is how disrespectfully Martin Preston’s formidable alter-ego is ultimately defeated, courtesy of Doctor Strange simply being ludicrously sick all over him…

Equally as poorly treated and trivialised is the sister of Damion Hellstrom, Satana. “Groomed by… [her] father to be evil” and able to gain “strength by touching weapons that killed people”, it’s hard to take the succubus seriously when Aaron portrays her as little more than the seductively sultry owner of a devil-infested diner; even if it is supposedly her “all-new, all-different Hell.” Admittedly, “the daughter of Marduk Kurious” is as viciously spiteful and violent as any perusing bibliophile familiar with her fictional biography might expect. Yet, even her willingness to savagely stab the Sorcerer Supreme in the hand with a fork and malevolently threaten to feed him his “own eyeballs” for dessert disappointingly lacks any truly meaningful aura of genuine jeopardy.

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4

Poor

Reviewed by
For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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