Doctor Strange (2015) #12

8

Great

DoctorStrange12-minBoldly publicised as part of the “Marvel NOW! [2016] event”, this opening instalment to Jason Aaron’s “Blood In The Aether” story-arc debatably provided its 72,990 readers with a relatively straightforward plot which pits the “severely depleted” Sorcerer Supreme against his “old adversary, Baron Mordo”. However, rather than provide the usual exchange of Mystic Arts between the ever-warring pair, after all any long-term bibliophile knows Doctor Strange has “beaten Mordo every time… [he’s] ever fought him”, the Alabama-born author instead adds a few new wrinkles to their relationship by having the titular character solely rely upon supernatural weapons during their duel rather than spells.

Indeed, the Inkpot Award-winner’s script provides plenty of ‘tongue-in-cheek’ proof that the former “preeminent surgeon” has trouble accessing any sort of enchantment whatsoever, by temporarily overcoming the supernatural being Mister Misery by chewing some mystic gum from Auckland and momentarily besting his arch-rival with the toss of a magic apple; “This is even worse than I expected…. This is just pathetic. I feel almost like I’m doing you a favour.” The “Star Wars” writer even includes a scene set within The Bar With No Doors, where Stephen discusses potentially getting himself a car entitled the Strange-Mobile with Chondu in order to help him get about town quicker…

Equally as enthralling though, is the marked difference the invasion and subsequent defeat of the Empirikul has had on Karl Amadeus Mordo. The Ancient One’s one-time apprentice is clearly just as formidable a Master of Black Magic as he has ever been, despite almost all the magic on Earth being destroyed by the Imperator’s inter-dimensional army, and yet seems more in the thrall of his master, the dread Dormammu than he’s arguably been depicted before. In fact, having watched the Lord of the Dark Dimension literally reduce a female tenant into cube-sized chunks of bloody flesh, the resentful, ordinarily arrogant Baron is so petrified that he races from the mutilation in abject horror.

Unfortunately, despite its sound penmanship, Issue Twelve of “Doctor Strange” does disconcertingly suffer as a result of Chris Bachalo’s ordinarily marvellous illustrations being inked by no less than five different people. Just why editor Nick Lowe ended up supplementing regular Tim Townsend with Richard Friend, Al Vey, Victor Olazaba and John Livesay isn’t clear, but their combined efforts definitely lead to a deterioration in the comic’s overall artistic quality, especially during an apparently poorly-pencilled scene where Mordo ‘evicts’ a family from their skyline private residence.

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8

Great

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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