For those amongst this comic’s 41,801 readers anticipating some sort of sorcerous showdown between its titular character, Thor and Mister Misery, Jason Aaron’s narrative for Issue Eighteen of “Doctor Strange” debatably must have come as something of a let-down with its predisposition towards surgical procedures as opposed to mythical weapons, spells and incantations. Of course that doesn’t mean that the Alabama-born author wastes an opportunity having Jane Foster’s alter-ego prevalent throughout this twenty-page periodical, au contraire, but his penmanship does fiercely focus upon her god-like abilities as a medical practitioner rather than the wielder of Mjolnir.
Indeed, in many ways “The World’s Finest Super-Surgeons” shows an enthralling side to the Goddess of Thunder which has not been seen before in a “Marvel Worldwide” publication, as Stephen mentors the Asgardian in the nuances of brain surgery and she uses a scalpel to “open a corridor to the tumour” inside a terminally unwell patient’s head. This intriguingly tense sequence, and subsequent ‘successful smiting’ of the abnormal growth of tissue, is tremendously well-written and only ventures into the macabre towards its end when “Thunderpants” is actually attacked by the objecting slick-black tumour; “You are… eating a brain tumour, Doctor Strange. Tell me, are all of your team-ups this bizarre and revolting?”
Even more impressive though, is Thor’s decision to operate on all the remaining patients simultaneously when Mister Misery realises what the pair are up to, and decides to “inflict maximum pain” on his hated adversary by causing the rest of its hopelessly sick victims to suffer lethal seizures. Working at the velocity of lightning, a move which necessitates Strange to “cover thy ears”, the Former Avenger’s sheer speed is breath-taking and shows just how different this particular incarnation of the Norse mythological legend is from her potentially more action-orientated predecessor Odinson.
For those bibliophiles who perhaps wanted to see more of the “Mighty Mallet” however, this comic’s conclusion still provided plenty of multi-eyed, tentacle-thrashing pounding, as all the “Odin-damned tumours” coagulate together into a grotesque gestalt which only Mjolnir can apparently best. Disconcertingly drawn and coloured by Chris Bachalo, this ‘set-piece’ is simply packed full of squidgy tendrils, xenomorph-like incisors and maleficent maws, all of which are either electrocuted by the weapon forged by the Dwarves of Nidavellir or enraged by Doctor Strange’s seemingly impotent magical axe…