Doctor Strange is currently embroiled in a miniseries pitting him against Mephisto after raising the dead in Las Vegas. Just another Thursday for Strange, eh? Over in his main book Donny Cates is revealing what happened before and after the first issue of that arc and there are some surprises to be found for sure.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
Cates is a writer to watch due to his excellent work on Thanos and a number of other titles. Teaming up with him here is Niko Henrichon, as they both enter a new arc titled “Bleeding Neon,” presumably to coincide with the Vegas storyline.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Doctor Strange probably has the coolest bachelor pad in all comics.
Given how this issue is plotted I had no idea I’d like the story so much. It opens with Doctor Strange primping for his big Las Vegas resurrection, doing the act, and then cutting to near the end of Damnation where we see him play cards with Mephisto. Most comics that run concurrently with another story tend to feel like filler, or at the very least spend so much time rehashing what we’ve already seen it can feel like we’re getting less of a story. Cates rectifies this with solid captions getting us inside Doctor Strange’s head. The Damnation issue is good, but this one feels more like a good intro to get us in his headspace. We understand after reading this issue the trials required to do what he did as well as why saving Vegas is important to him. It basically adds to the Damnation story in a supportive way I can get behind.
This issue ever so slightly pushes the needle past the first issue of Damnation, letting us see where Doctor Strange is at in his game with Mephisto. Prior to that, we get a key scene of Doctor Strange playing cards with the devil and it’s fun to see how Doctor Strange strategizes, gets duped and then pivots to capitalize. The colorful demons who playing at his table are also good fun and there are a few laughs to be had in this gambling scene.
Niko Henrichon’s art has a sketchy look that suits the demonic scenes and the various scenes that require fire. Doctor Strange’s ghost dog Bats is a welcome sight who passes as a real dog quite well (not an easy thing to do!). There are two double page layouts that help convey the gravity of what Doctor Strange did to Vegas and the fallout from it. These match perfectly with Cates’ captions to sell the joke of Doctor Strange being a hero and then not. Strange himself has a solid look as well, as if he’s been on a bender and needs a week off from all these shenanigans.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Having read Damnation I’m still sitting here crying in my beer about half the book setting up and then showing what happened in that series. I suppose I should be happy Marvel isn’t making readers read that just to understand this–a common thing to force folks to buy books outside of their pull list–but alas, it’s still a retread however you look at it.
Is It Good?
A good issue that delves into Doctor Strange’s pre and post Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 actions, suitably giving the title a tie-in feel that supports the main event.