Doctor Strange #21



DoctorStrange21Literally throwing its 32,142 followers head-first into the “Marvel Worldwide” 2017 multi-title comic book event “Secret Empire”, Dennis Hopeless’ script for Issue Twenty-One of “Doctor Strange” must have proved a truly pulse-pounding reading experience for those who already had some knowledge of the Cosmic Cube transforming “Captain America into the ultimate Hydra sleeper agent” and “some of Earth’s street-level heroes… [becoming] trapped inside the Darkforce bubble that envelops New York City.” However, for those bibliophiles ignorant of such catastrophic incidents, and faced with a Sorcerer Supreme who almost immediately hacks off the gory head of a needle-teethed demon inside a seemingly abandoned pharmacy, the Kansas City born writer’s narrative must have been a somewhat surprising change of story-line to that anticipated following the recent departure of the ongoing series’ previously ensconced creative team.

Fortunately though, the GLAAD Media Award-nominee doesn’t entirely abandon his audience to the thrills (and spills) of the raggedy Master of the Mystic Arts armed with a demigod’s old hatchet and an enchanted swan feather without some exposition, and quite unobtrusively pens a summary of events to bring any bookworm back up to speed whilst the titular character fights his way through the sickeningly slimy digestive tract of a giant monster. This intimate insight into Strange’s most recent memories works really well, but disconcertingly doesn’t help explain just why the likes of Daredevil, Spider-Woman and Ben Urich are found scaling the Chrysler building, nor how the Sanctum Santorum is suddenly “inside a big marble halfway up” the skyscraper.

Still so bizarre an interlude does at least provide Baron Mordo with an opportunity to joyously verbalise his disreputable qualities to Matt Murdock’s alter-ego and demonstrate just why the “sorcerer of some renown in dark wizarding circles” is now the “all-powerful caretaker of this darkforce Manhattan.” In addition, the Transylvanian nobleman’s appearance also helps pin-point him as a very understandable target for Stephen’s “fine witches’ brew” and the perfect justification as to why the former preeminent surgeon has made such a desperately dangerous trek across the beleaguered metropolis’ ruinous landscape simply to acquire “a meal a young couple shared on the first night in their new home”, a “lucky rabbit’s foot dangled from the ignition in three separate fatal car accidents” and “the prized possession of a three-year-old boy”; “By the Flames of the Faltine! Peel back the dark veil that encases us!”

Adding to the enthralling atmosphere of Hopeless’ post-apocalyptic New York is Niko Henrichon’s dynamic pencilling and rich colouring. The Canadian artist’s various demonic creatures would arguably not look out-of-place within Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” cult movie trilogy and resultantly adds an element of blood-curdling horror to the proceedings which arguably wouldn’t have been so evident otherwise.

This article is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the site owner.


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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