[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
After his collaboration Kanna and Wong, Doctor Strange is feeling lonely and a significant sense of ennui. He wants a new challenge, and he receives it in spades. An alien sorcerer arrives on Earth demanding help from Stephen Strange. The alien’s name is Zoloz, and Galactus has arrived on his planet. When Stephen tries to convince Zoloz that he doesn’t have the most experience with Galactus of the heroes of Earth, Zoloz gets belligerent, raiding the Sanctum Sanctorum for mystical knowledge and escaping back to his planet. Doctor Strange’s astral form is brought along for the ride, and he witnesses Zoloz’s destructive battle against Galactus.
Doctor Strange #12 brings the Sorcerer Supreme into conflict with Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. The catalyst for the battle is Zoloz, an immensely arrogant and powerful alien sorcerer.
I’ve been personally excited for this showdown since it was teased, and this opening issue has me confident for the rest of the tale. Zoloz is a more aggressive reflection of Stephen Strange in his darkest moments, and Zoloz forcing another sorcerer into a deadly battle with a celestial being is almost something Stephen Strange himself did not so long ago (see Doctor Strange: Damnation).
A part of the conflict is that Galactus, a “being of science” being put inside the mystic realms. This contradiction is emphasized as a massive threat to all of reality. While Galactus stomping around the realms of magic does sound like a genuine problem, framing it as science versus magic downplays what could be recognized some sort of cosmic crime, affront, or blight being enacted. You could still see it as such as the reader, but the script feels a little weak in this aspect.
That said, Doctor Strange #12 is still a damn good issue. A big part of its strength is the artwork of Barry Kitson. He brings a classic, line-heavy, and even slightly messy style that makes this feel like a classic Doctor Strange tale. The scenes set in space and the mystic realms are especially well-done, evoking the stylings of the King himself, Jack Kirby. Brian Reber’s colors draw upon this style of work too, giving the book a wild and brilliant color palette.
Doctor Strange #12 is a highly opening issue for the coming battle between Strange and Galactus. The new player, Zoloz, enters the fray, and all of magic and reality is at stake thanks to Zoloz’s mistakes. This issue easily earns a recommendation. Check it out.
Doctor Strange #12 comes to us from writer Mark Waid, artist Barry Kitson, finishes from Scott Koblish, color artist Brian Reber, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artist Jesus Saiz, and variant cover artists Greg Land with Jay Leisten and Frank D’Armata.