I’m not sure Doctor Strange has ever been this vulnerable, which means high stakes and even higher likelihood for entertainment. We delve into the latest issue out this week, but is it good?
Doctor Strange #13 (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The Marvel summary reads:
“BLOOD IN THE AETHER” STARTS NOW! Doctor Strange is on the brink of death, his magic nearly depleted. Sensing the Sorcerer Supreme at his weakest, his greatest foes will return from the shadows, ready to strike. Behold the return Doctor Strange’s classic rogues gallery starting with…BARON MORDO!
Why does this book matter?
Jason Aaron has been doing fantastic things with this series and adding new wrinkles to the Doctor Strange mythos. One of my favorites is the weird and disgusting things Doctor Strange eats. Hey, don’t judge me, I like the simple things! He and Chris Bachalo have been writing some of the most interesting and weird Doctor Strange stories in ages. Time for a nightmare of an issue just in time for Halloween!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Seems like fun.
A Halloween issue for a title like Doctor Strange is tricky because he’s fighting monsters and horrific things on a day to day basis. Leave it to Aaron to flip the Halloween issue on its head by opening the issue as if it were a Heaven for Doctor Strange, or in his case, Hell, but a Heaven for anyone else. Aaron plays with your expectations and bombards you with positive things and small “good” elements that would be Doctor Strange’s worst nightmares. Which is what this issue is all about, but let’s say no more to avoid spoilers.
Along with playing with your expectations, the issue also enters another realm which brings in the topsy turvy fun that only Doctor Strange can bring. This leads to a very clever, and fantastically drawn, montage page that has quite an inventive layout. The narrative comes with a satisfying conclusion that wraps things up nicely and delves into the cliffhanger in a natural sort of way too.
Bachelor does a fantastic job with this issue, capturing Strange’s ego, fear, and confusion when needed. The show stopper is the montage full page layout I mentioned above, which collages panels as Strange literally climbs over them. In each panel is a different fear and it’s fun to see how Doctor Strange reacts to them. The alternate dimension scenes are also a lot of fun and it’s cool to see how Bachalo displays the physics breaking locale.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While the premise of the issue is great, it does take a while to get going, with probably more pages than it needed showing us Doctor Strange figuring out what is going on. By my count Doctor Strange wanders about in his nightmare for 9 pages, which is 9 pages of seeing a very ordinary world most would think isn’t so bad. It’s clever to see the detail Aaron put into making this Strange’s own personal hell, but does try your patience.
What a life! Wait..something isn’t right here.
Is It Good?
This is a great piece of storytelling that flips the Halloween one-shot on its head in a way that would only work for Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange feels vibrant and better than ever thanks to inventive ideas and great art.