The first story arc of Doctor Strange by Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz was a journey of not just finding oneself but finding a better part of oneself. The fact that it ended as it did threw everything into question. The second arc called “The Two Doctors” starts today and opens where we left off.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Doctor Strange returns home to find…DOCTOR STRANGE?! Something bizarre happened since Stephen took off into the cosmos – and it doesn’t bode well for him.
Why does this matter?
If you loved Jason Aaron’s run on Doctor Strange or even dabbled in it, you need to read this to discover the truth about everything. Also, it appears Marvel is shifting Doctor Strange from a scrappy axe-wielding hero to a more traditional master of the arts of magic. To that I say, hell yeah!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If the first five issues were all about thrusting the good doctor into a new kind of story, this first issue in the next arc is about pulling him back into the type of narrative we are accustomed to from the 80s. That means making deals with demons, navigating the politics of magic with familiar faces, and being totally woke by the idea that nothing is what it seems. That makes sense since the narrative is set back on Earth, but it’s slightly saddening considering how the first arc was such a breath of fresh air. That said, Doctor Strange traditionalists will enjoy this story for those very reasons.
The biggest takeaway from this issue is how Waid is mixing newer Doctor Strange mythology with old, which will make older fans quite happy. Familiar (and obscure) faces show up to remind us there’s a rich tapestry to take from with this character. There’s also plenty of magic and the duo doctors in this story certainly amplify that.
Javier Pina draws this issue with Brian Reber on colors. The magic looks phenomenal and the opening fight sequence with the two doctors is quite cool. It’s nice to see the older costume up against the newer and it’s a visual message about the dueling new vs. old storylines.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is a wordy book with a lot of standing around and talking. True, there are two action scenes (one being a flashback), but there is a lot of work done explaining things and catching us up to speed. Considering most of the info learned is stuff I’ve never known it’s helpful, but it seems to be doing a lot of heavy lifting for, at least at this point, very little gain. Essentially Waid is cleaning house more or less and we’re driving towards a new kind of Doctor Strange book, but it’d be nice if it plotted out a little more cleanly.
Is it good?
I liked the issue, but it’s too clunky in how to gets a lot of information across. The first arc was so clean and fresh and seems to have hit a wall of exposition and continuity rather than keeping that newness into this second arc.