Review: ‘Strange Academy #1’ Is Far More Exciting Than Quidditch

by James Ferguson

Move over, Hogwarts! There’s a new magical school on the block. Doctor Strange has started his own university to guide the next generation of magic users in the Marvel Universe in the use of their powers and hopefully avoid them trying to destroy all of time and space or take over the world. Yes, it sounds a bit like Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. I think that’s kind of the point.

The debut issue of Strange Academy introduces us to a wide array of new characters as they make their way to the school. You can already see how personalities are clashing, leading to some great drama and downright fun. Writer Skottie Young brings a unique voice to each of these future sorcerers so you get an idea of who they are and where they come from within moments of meeting them.

While there’s still a lot to learn about each of these kids, I have to say that Doyle Dormammu is my favorite so far. This upstart youngster clearly has a chip on his shoulder as the illegitimate child of one of the most fearsome villains in the Marvel Universe. It’s something he can’t hide either, as his head is on fire just like his pops. It’s kind of funny to see his fiery face above casual clothes.

That brings me to artist Humberto Ramos‘ work on Strange Academy #1. Young provides the voices for these characters, but Ramos really makes them come alive. He fills them with their own personalities and quirks. You instantly understand the bravado of Iric from Asgard or the innocence of Shaylee from Otherworld.

There’s a fair amount of contrast between all the characters too. While Shaylee is bubbly and bright, Despair (aka Dessy), a demon from Limbo is the opposite. Colorist Edgar Delgado helps that with a varied color palette, reminding you that anything is possible with magic. Similarly, letterer Clayton Cowles uses a number of different fonts to showcase the backgrounds of each student, adding to the melting pot Strange has created here.

You get the sense that any of these students could be the future Sorcerer Supreme…or his next arch-nemesis. That’s not explicitly laid out, like it was years ago in Avengers Academy (another comic featuring the next generation of heroes that I loved), but it’s definitely implied. Judging by an incredibly illustrated fight scene at the end of this first issue, these kids are certainly capable of reaching those heights.

It’s hard to read a book like Strange Academy and not make a comparison to Harry Potter. It’s what you think of when someone says “magic school.” This comic puts the unique Marvel spin on it, adding it’s on flavor of danger, excitement, and fun. I’m impressed with this debut issue and I’m eagerly anticipating more from these characters. If I had to sum up Strange Academy in one word, it would be “potential.” There’s a tremendous amount of it on display here and I’m looking forward to more. I just hope these characters don’t end up as cannon fodder for a big event in a few years like some other newcomers have in the past.

Strange Academy #1 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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