Doctor Strange is in a bad place, which usually means his friends need to step up and save his butt. In this case, he has no friends, but he does have Wong and his insatiable ability to convince folks to do things. This issue is the second part of a story pitting Doctor Strange against Mephisto and the ragtag team of magical heroes brought together to stop evil incarnate from taking over Las Vegas. If it hasn’t already.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
Donny Cates and Nick Spencer have a magic centered mini event on their hands which means lots of character cameos and big awe-inspiring moments. It’s what Marvel comics are all about.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The book opens with a recap so even if you’re new to the story you can jump in.
This issue opens reminding us of how we got here in two quick pages then jump cuts to a vampire bar where Wong awaits Blade. The half vampire hero makes quick work of the vampires and soon he’s on board to at least listen to Wong. I imagine this comic would play well with some White Stripes or other fast paced music as it has the approach one would expect from a breakneck montage in a heist movie. Characters like Elsa Bloodstone, Moon Knight, and Iron Fist all get their respective scenes. Ghost Rider gets the longest intro, but dammit he deserves it given what Mephisto is doing to the Avengers.
That’s right, Mephisto is turning the Avengers into Ghost Rider versions of themselves mind controlled and ready to kill anything in their way. The last seven pages of the issue highlight their incoming doom, but not without a big surprise twist from Doctor Strange himself. This last quarter of the book adds ample amount of action to delight fans of all these characters.
The meat of the issue is actually focused on Wong convincing these supernatural heroes (Blade, Iron Fist, Elsa Bloodstone, Moon Knight, Man-Thing, and Brother Voodoo) to go on this suicide mission to save Doctor Strange. Cates and Spencer give each character a moment to shine be it Blade being offended by Bloodstone, Moon Knight’s madness, or Brother Voodoo’s calm nature. This helps establish the ragtag nature of the team and establishes they may not be the most collaborative bunch.
Szymon Kudranski draws this issue, doing it all from colors to inks. He has a gritty style that suits the underbelly nature of the heroes involved as well as the demonic elements when they crop up. Of the bunch, Ghost Rider looks the most supernaturally cool, though the class of Moon Knight shines through well and you can’t deny the attitude Blade and Bloodstone have through their facial expressions.
Did he just jump backwards?
It can’t be perfect can it?
So much time is spent focusing on the character introductions and then their meeting to go over the plan that most of this issue reads like it’s stalling. Then there are the first two pages that remind us what happened so far, but we’re only in the second issue of the event so why do we need a recap already? The meeting of the heroes does a good job establishing Wong’s leadership skills but at the cost of stretching out a boring bit when we could have progressed the plot.
Some of these characters aren’t the most polished either. Moon Knight fans might take offense to the crazy-person jokes and Iron Fist, Brother Voodoo, and Man-Thing are sort of just there. Blade and Bloodstone have an interesting dynamic, but for the most part, these characters are rather flat.
Is It Good?
You gotta respect a comic that spends its time developing its characters, but this issue needed to push the needle further than it does. As it stands there are some good character moments, but overall you’ll be wishing for more and story.