It seems like every time you visit a comic shop these days, a milestone issue drops. Action Comics reached 1,000 issues, Amazing Spider-Man reached 800 and now Doctor Strange is ready to cross over into his 400th issue. In this extra-sized issue, Mark Waid continues his excellent spacefaring take on the character with two additional stories also written by him. There’s lots of love for the character here, but is it good?
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
As a milestone issue you know you’ll be getting a fun, done-in-one story to celebrate the character. Waid has been killing it on this series, making me a big fan of the character when for the most part I’d only dabbled with him. It’s also exciting that this issue adds a new layer to the magic realm.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens where the last left off, with the Ancient One not only in human form but seeking Doctor Strange for help. It’s a big change for Strange due to his only recently acquiring his full power. Considering how powerful the Ancient One was, this issue has a looming threat so powerful it hangs over everything. You might even worry about this new superpowered Doctor Strange because his ego is certainly back. As the story unfolds Waid does a good job integrating new elements we have yet to see in the magical realm, which has understandable rules about them. I don’t want to spoil it, but he’s giving us a peek into the magical realm that is somehow very ordinary.
The main story is drawn by Jesus Saiz who does a wonderful job. His painterly art style makes the magical elements so much more vivid. There are panels in this book that could serve as covers they’re so beautiful.
The second half of the issue is devoted to two shorter stories, one drawn by Butch Guice about Doctor Strange helping a boy who has locked a bully in a magical realm by accident and the second with art by Kevin Nowlan revealing a story set when Doctor Strange was still learning the mystic arts. The first story is a fun take on the character that could easily have been a Saturday morning cartoon. It has a message, allows a young boy to go on an adventure, and it reminds us how powerful magic can be in the wrong hands. The second story is fantastic in that it honors the character’s roots. He has yet to learn magic and is an arrogant fool. In this story, Waid does a good job capturing the weaknesses of the character that he had to overcome to become the Sorcerer Supreme. The art is fantastic in this story, too.
Finishing off the book is a double page layout by legendary artist Tom Palmer and a cliffhanger type story with art by Daniel Acuna to get us geared up for a future threat. Both of these honor the past in different ways. If you’ve read Doctor Strange for a while, you know he has some amazing villains, one of which Acuna teases wonderfully.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I could see the higher price tag being an issue for some. This reads more like a good single issue with a few tacked on elements, making the $6 price hard to swallow. These are great stories if you love the character, though. As a milestone issue, it could have done more to set the stage for where we go from here. As it stands this issue feels more like a last minute attempt to celebrate 400 issues rather than an all-out ramp up to blow the doors off casual and longtime readers.
Is it good?
Doctor Strange #10 is the 400th issue if you count legacy numbering and in many ways, it does a fantastic job honoring the character. Mark Waid’s main story, along with the fantastic art from Saiz, will make you want more. As a milestone issue it’s so-so in its celebration of the character, but if you like Doctor Strange even a little, you’re going to love this.