There’s debatably a palpable sadness emanating from Donny Cates’ script for this second instalment to his “Loki: Sorcerer Supreme” storyline which must surely have disconcerted some within the publication’s 24,286 strong audience in December 2017. But whilst the demise of the wonderfully lovable Bats towards the end of this twenty-page periodical is undoubtedly something of a true tear-jerker, this comic’s greatest lamentation is arguably due to just how uncharacteristically low “one of Marvel’s few bright spots in recent months” has penned Stephen Strange to sink.
Naturally, the former “preeminent surgeon” is going to be understandably disheartened by his ‘off-screen’ loss to the Asgardian God of Mischief, resultant abrupt departure from the Sanctum Sanctorum and surreal switch from being “Earth’s first defence against all manner of magical threats” to the life of an untrained veterinarian running a small animal hospital. However, that hardly explains why the Garland-born author would depict the Master of the Mystic Arts pitifully pleading with his former apprentice on the doorstep of his old mansion simply because he suspects Zelma Stanton has become Loki’s girlfriend; “Ouch. That’s… yeah, that’s rough, Doc. I mean, guy takes yer house… yer cape, yer job… And now this? Jeez, I feel for ya, I really… Doc?”
Interestingly, Cates does desperately try to overshadow the fallen member of the Illuminati’s evident bitter jealously by ridiculously revealing that Stan Lee’s co-creation has supposedly covertly bound the Exile of Singhsoon to the one-time mind-maggot infested librarian’s soul so as to keep the all-powerful spell out of “anyone’s hands”. Yet this bizarrely convenient rational as to why Strange subsequently awakens the Sentry, having been easily bested by Thor’s half-brother once again after spying him briefly kissing Zelma, somewhat smacks of contrivance and lazy writing.
Similarly as inconsistent as this comic’s questionable narrative is Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s artwork, with the Hugo Award-nominee’s pencilling imbuing both Stephen’s barking basset hound and venomously angered Stanton with some thoroughly enthralling dynamism one moment, and then presenting a somewhat lack lustre titular character or Loki in the next. In fact, much of the pet doctor’s emotions disappointingly are only ‘picked up’ from the book’s numerous text boxes rather than from any facial expression sketched by the Spanish illustrator.