Doctor Strange #381



DoctorStrange381Whilst Donny Cates’ narrative for this opening instalment to “Loki: Sorcerer Supreme” makes it very clear straight from the start that this comic’s “new magical landscape” is going to be decidedly different from that which has gone before, its contents must still have caught many of this book’s 47,942 readers off-guard by landing them straight smack in the aftermath of Stephen Strange’s replacement as the Master of the Mystic Arts. In fact, considering this book’s bamboozling beginning and that the title reverts back to its “Legacy” numbering on its cover, it is arguably hard not to imagine some within the series’ disconcerted audience scrambling around the spinner-rack looking for at least one or two missing issues for their collection.

Sadly however this bombshell was probably just the sort of reaction the former “Marvel Comics” intern was looking for, as not only does the twenty-page periodical’s plot quickly describe the good Doctor’s defeat in a mysterious tournament at the hands of the Asgardian trickster god. But his penmanship also strongly indicates that Thor’s adopted brother is both already partially settled into the role, coming “face to thousand faces with a horde of the deadly vampa-cabra warriors from Dimension Blood”, and apparently enjoying the prestigious honour to boot; “I should just give it up. No one wants me in this role. No one will trust that I have changed, and I seem to be unfit to prove them wrong… I just want to help.”

Interestingly, Cates also seems to somewhat invalidate all the finely-detailed, heavily-explored work of his predecessor Jason Aaron, by depicting Loki dismissing “this business about magic always having some sort of cost… some sort of price” and calling such a state of affairs “silly”. Of course, this contempt for “sin-eating” could well be one of Laufeyson’s ploy’s to quickly win over his fellow magic users, considering that the “pretender” himself admits to the occupants of The Bar With No Doors that he would only bring about such a change in order to advance his “own self-serving needs.” Yet such is the speed with which the notion is introduced and subsequently demonstrated, courtesy of the “exclusive enchanted watering hole for the mystic and magical lot” being instantaneously evaporated, that it arguably feels a little disrespectful to the previously established lore…

Perhaps this comic’s biggest disappointment though is Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s artwork, which despite being competently pencilled, debatably lacks the dynamism needed for such a word-heavy, dialogue-driven storyline. Indeed, the Spanish artist’s depiction of Doctor Strange – veterinarian, seems remarkably lifeless and flat-looking when compared to this publication’s “three bonus Marvel Primer Pages” portraying the one-time neurosurgeon in his earlier days as illustrated by Niko Henrichon at the end of the book.

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


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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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