Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel)

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CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 4/5 – Solid Premiere Issue with a Great Summary of Doc’s Career to Date.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo working together on an all new series in the Marvel Universe is something to get excited about. Add in the fact that they’re working on a character who hasn’t had an on-going series of his own since the 1990s in Dr. Strange, and that’s even more of a reason to celebrate. For the most part Doctor Strange is worthy of that excitement, although at times the art can get a little bit messy and the good Doctor doesn’t come off as original as he could be.

I will start off by saying that the first page of this issue is something I’d love to see more first issues of Marvel comics duplicate. Aaron uses internal dialogue boxes over no less than fifteen panels containing art from all different time periods in Strange’s history. Ditko, Colan and more artist’s panels are represented on the page as Aaron takes us through a very brief but effective telling of his origin. It’s a brilliant idea that pays homage to what’s come before, and something that can easily be done in other Marvel firsts. After that first page, Bachalo takes over and there’s a lot going on with his pencils. I love Bachalo’s art, but at times his sequentials can get lost with so much going on within the panels.

One of the surprises with this first issue though is a back-up story pencilled by Kevin Nowlan. As good as Bachalo looks, Nowlan’s clean pencils stole the show. It was only a five-page story, but I wanted more. This story also served as a prelude to a larger overarching story we’ll see as this series moves forward. The main story does a nice job of grounding Dr. Strange and making him accessible to new readers. There’s a particular monologue scene where Strange describes how people who have “a daughter cursing in latin and walking like a spider” find him and use his services. That “Exorcist” reference allows a new reader to relate rather than jumping right into the bigger mystical issues like the Eye of Agamotto. Aaron tries to keep the unexplained somewhat understandable which makes this first issue an easy read.

I would have liked to have seen Aaron make Strange a bit more eccentric and unique. Strange, from his very first appearance has always been cocky and conceited and here he’s portrayed as that to a certain degree as well as a womanizer, but never all that different from one who’s seen as much as he has. If you took out the “magical” parts of his internal monologue, I don’t think you’d be able to tell it’s Strange as opposed to Tony Stark, or some other hero. Not only that, but we also have no idea how he’s here considering the role he’s played in the Marvel Universe pre and post Secret Wars. Aaron is more than capable of writing a Dr. Strange that’s well, just a bit more strange, and I’m hoping that more time will allow him to differentiate the Doctor and give him a unique personality all his own.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
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