‘Strange Academy’ continues to grow out its main cast and plots while finding ways to touch various elements and realms of the Marvel Universe in organic and interesting ways. This artistic team truly makes the world of these kids and the Marvel Universe a magical looking place, presenting the magic school that you truly want to go enroll in right now.
Within the Marvel Universe, messing with or even poking at the timeline is a thing that has been known to have pretty constant disastrous results. Entire apocalyptic timelines have been spun off because one person makes a different choice (hello What If? Stories) or makes a massive change to the established order.
Unfortunately for one member of the Strange Academy student body, just glimpsing one of those potential futures was enough to wreck them.
Things have been in a lot of flux for the Academy students since the end of the last big arc, what with their headmaster Stephen Strange being murdered (The Death of Doctor Strange mini-event). Much like the last issue this massive event isn’t even touched on here, as these issues seem to be threading the needle of continuity likely waiting for the event to finish before definitively tackling this change (outside of the one-shot tie-in issue).
Skottie Young has been juggling a lot of plot balls in the air since this series began, and one of them was how various characters have talked about the threat that Doyle Dormammu could be. There was even talk early on about a prophecy surrounding him. Using the magical ability to witness timeline events as a tool to finally have Doyle himself be confronted with this possibility was a nice move. Especially since it allowed for a brief look at the Strange Academy kids as fully grown adults (a rarity for most teenage characters in ongoing comic book worlds) but also a brief return to the fan-favorite ‘Age of Apocalypse’ universe.
Time travel or time manipulation is often just a thing the hero characters do without any thought to what happens afterward. Thus it was nice to see Emily here very much question the fact that the heroes seem to be fine intervening when it’s to their benefit while letting stuff that happens to others go on as “the natural order.” It could just be a throwaway type line, something Young wanted to poke at, or it could very well have something to do wherever this Doyle story goes next.
Every issue is just a delight to dive into because Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles bring such a vivid shadowy fun but scary life to this magical title. It takes a certain kind of artist to be able to seamlessly weave between the more fun and lighthearted moments and the emotionally taxing deep hard moments, sometimes doing them at exactly the same time. Ramos is one of those artists, and his art just adds so much to any book that he’s part of as it’s got a fun unrealistic tone to it on the edges yet also feels so deep and real like it could pop off the page or drag you into the world.
As noted in previous reviews, Delgado helps bring things up in this book with the dance of bright popping colors, muted colors, and shadows that can be found here. As I said there are a lot of heavy moments amongst the more fun ones, and the tone that is struck with Delgado’s colors makes those moments even clearer. There are many things that stood out, but one of them was how the night scenes seemed truly like night while the night scenes in an area like New Orleans proper were spot on for how a lit-up city makes the night seem. Reality is not a must for comics, but when those right elements can be hit to make something feel more ‘real’ it’s a great thing.
Cowles brings his own energy to the book, making sure that the lettering reflects the personalities of the characters as well as the magical elements of this book. It would have been simple to just do standard fonts and bubbles for all the characters, but that’s not what we get here. Tons of characters have distinct looks to their dialogue, even when it is similar, making it unique to them. Alongside the bright and fun popping SFX, it just adds to the book’s overall mood.
Real quickly, the designs that are here for what each of the main students looks like as adults are just so awesome looking. Natural evolutions to their current looks or based upon their personalities/origins.
Strange Academy #14 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.