A Halloween Double-Feature In Doctor Strange Annual #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

On Halloween night, the veil between dimensions are at their thinnest, and that means extra precautions must be taken. Zelma Stanton has been summoned back to the Sanctum Sanctorum to bring supplies to Doctor Strange, and Zelma assumes that must mean a pumpkin and candy. In reality, Strange meant ritual supplies, but he can make do. Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo, Scarlet Witch, Agatha Harkness, and Talisman have come together to protect the Sanctum from the spirits that look to breach into our world. Zelma is tasked with protecting the sorcerers while they do so.

Doctor Strange Annual #1 cover by Ariel Olivetti
Doctor Strange Annual #1 cover by Ariel Olivetti

In the backup story, a pair of killer thieves sneak into the Hotel Inferno, the demonic casino now owned and operated by Wong.

Doctor Strange Annual #1 closes out this particular run on the Doctor Strange title (which will be relaunched next month). It gives us a pair of Halloween-themed stories that are more charming than scary.

The first focuses on Zelma trying to keep up with all that Doctor Strange and his associates are throwing at her. She’s no wizard herself, but she knows how insane Strange’s life can be. There is some humor and some heart to it, though I can’t say that I was ever sucked into the story (despite the presence of Doctor Voodoo).

The second story is a bit more macabre, and it reveals something about Wong that hasn’t been discussed before. I won’t spoil that here, but it makes Wong’s relation to Strange a bit more interesting. The ending is pretty damn dark too, and this shorter story actually gels a bit better than the first.

Andy MacDonald is the artist on the first story, and he brings a fairly gritty aesthetic and plays with the mystical elements well. Lalit Kumar Sharma is the artist on the second, and he does a good job of making the imagery genuinely creepy at times. Triona Farrell and Jose Villarrubia are the color artists on the venture, and they both do some damn fine work.

Doctor Strange Annual #1 is a decent read. While I can’t say it gives this run of the series the final bang it deserves, it’s still entertaining enough and gives you a Halloween superhero story fitting for the season. I can give it a recommendation, even if it isn’t a strong one. Feel free to pick it up.

Doctor Strange Annual #1 comes to us from writers Tini Howard and Pornsak Pichetshote, artists Andy MacDonald and Lalit Kumar Sharma, inkers Andy MacDonald and Sean Parsons, color artists Triona Farrell and Jose Villarrubia, letterer VC’s Cory Petit, cover artists Ariel Olivetti, and variant cover artist Steve Skroce with Dave Stewart.

Final Score: 6.5/10

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