Bleeding eyes? Check. Atlantean Black Magic? Check. A badass cape? Check. Well then, it must be the latest issue of Doctor Strange.
It is an undeniable fact that there hasn’t been a weak point in this series since it first leapt onto shelves with the rest of the post-Secret Wars titles. Week after week Jason Aaron and Co have been firing out the quality like a comic writing machine gun. So then it would be a surprise for the quality to suddenly dip, right? Right. Well thankfully it hasn’t.
This issue delivers on some of the battle that was promised in the last one but it also takes an interesting detour that prolongs this story yet further and adds even more dimensions to this incredibly fleshed out world.
The primary focus is not on Strange as such but rather it rests upon his faithful ally, Wong. You see, building from what was learned last week, the consequences of Strange’s use of magic are better explored in the form of the toll that it takes on his body. By rights his use of Atlantean Black Magic and other supremely powerful spells should have killed him by now, as is made clear in the book, but something is keeping him from feeling the full effects. That something is Wong.
More specifically it is a group of devotees to magic that somehow absorb the ill effects for Strange without his knowledge. Wong is the one who organised this to happen and the ramifications of it not happening are made very clear and they are not good.
This closer look at the previously little discussed sidekick that is Wong can best be described as a stroke of brilliance. It brings even greater gravity to the story as you are left to wonder what will become of Doctor Strange If these monks are no longer able to bear the consequences of his actions. It is something that will undoubtedly be explored further in the fullness of time and it promises to make The Sorcerer Supreme’s showdown with the anti-magic invaders all the more scintillating.
Of course, a portion of the book did also follow the good doctor as he sought to fend off his would be killers. Unable to use magic for a good portion of the fight as they have successfully stripped most of it from the universe he was forced to resort to hand to hand combat. Well, technically it was sword to snout as he was fighting wolves but still.
This was a welcome change of pace from the mystical adventures of previous installments and it served to freshen up the flow of the narrative, as if it needed it. With this issue Aaron showed his diversity in terms of storytelling ability with this character and reaffirmed the fact that he is the best writer this series could possibly have. The day he leaves this title will be a sad one indeed.
The build provided for the next issue was superb and fans will be clamouring for the conclusion of this story if that should indeed come in the next book. There will undoubtedly be a battle for the ages as Strange finally comes head to head with the antagonists of the piece but it remains to be seen if he can dispatch them in just one issue.
By now the art style for this book is well entrenched in the minds of fans and there is no deviation from that here. Nor should there be though as it works perfectly with what Aaron is going for in terms of the story of this book. Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, John Livesay, Victor Olazaba, and Jaime Mendoza combine to create something ultimately quite beautiful in an a strikingly bizarre way. It is hard to think of a time that a Doctor Strange comic ever looked better.
If you still aren’t reading this book by now, then there is something wrong with you. This is the best Marvel title on offer right now and it is not one to be passed up on. Get out there, pick up a copy, and enjoy.
Score: 5 out of 5.
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