Dr. Strange #1 opens with the fact that Earth’s magic has suddenly vanished and Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, is feeling the adverse effects of this. Unwilling to return to a life of being a mere mortal, Strange takes to the stars to find another world of magic to provide a life saving transfusion of the mystic arts to the Earth. Will he find a magical donor or will he find that the universe is more arduous than he previously knew?
Mark Waid begins his run in a solid effort, but it is missing something. The concept of magic being finite and in need of revitalization is an interesting concept that is worth exploring. However, the comic is largely ”eh”. The third person narrator throughout the comic comes off as heavy handed, with consistent mentions of the Magician in reference to Strange. The narration needs some polish. It is clunky and derivative. It doesn’t allow for the art to speak for itself. There is a need for an internal monologue as the comic is largely just Strange, but it is heavier than a brick of lead.
Then there is this whole space narrative. Right now there are two main Avengers in space, with Black Panther and Strange. Solo books should do their own thing, but with the two being off-world in their respective books, but hanging around Thor in the team book shows a lack of continuity. I am not usually a continuity snob. Maybe it has to do with Marvel’s affection for throwing characters into space and become prisoners moments after landing (see Planet Hulk, Astonishing X-Men, Black Panther, etc). Going to space is an interesting narrative device and allows for more inventive storytelling, but do we really need another “hero goes to space jail” story?
I digress, but the flaws in Strange are still present. The book is buoyed by a strong artistic showing from Jeśus Saiz. Saiz brings a painting style to the book and makes it work within the confines of sequential art. Often painted books can come off rigid and look more like a series of stills instead of true sequential art. Saiz avoids this and brings subtlety to the comic. It is an issue with a lot of silent expressions of sadness and isolation. The small character quirks work, like Tony Stark building a house out of olives and straws, and Doctor Strange’s hands trembling due to the lack of magic. Saiz captures those moments well. The art is the definite strength of the book.
Dr. Strange #1 is a relaunch that offers an interesting, if not tired, direction. The writing is heavy-handed, but not in the preachy way that Waid can sometimes employ. It instead could have used a couple passes through the editing process to punch up the narration or remove it all together. Saiz’s art is the workhorse of the comic with an art style that fits the character and story. At the end of the day, though, Doctor Strange #1 isn’t worth it. It has some interesting ideas but the execution is overdone.
Doctor Strange #1 is currently available from Marvel Comics.