Review: Family Is Magic In ‘Death Of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone’ #1

by Scott Redmond


The effects of Doctor Strange’s death continue to plague the Marvel Universe, and monster hunter extraordinaire Elsa Bloodstone and her brother deal with some fallout that is very personal as the family Bloodstone gets just a bit bigger. A magically fun and well-crafted story centered on family and magical elements that is a delight from start to finish.


When there is an event-like series within the comic book realm, it’s almost always a given that there will be tie-ins. These can range from mini-series to one-shot length, often depending on the scale of the event, and more often than not take their own spin while making sure to fit into the overall aesthetic of the event itself.

If the event is about aliens attacking, you’ll see those aliens in the tie-ins. If it’s about villains taking revenge on heroes, you’ll see that heroes villains. When an event is all about time-traveling shenanigans that alter the timeline, the tie-ins will likely be showing bits of that.

The beauty of the tie-in issues for The Death of Doctor Strange is how they buck that trend in a manner of speaking and all tackle something very different but still within the scope of the event. Doctor Strange is dead and magical threats are plaguing the Earth dimension all over. We’ve had one-shots where Spider-Man and Black Cat handle tasks left to them by Strange, Blade and Vampires dealing with other-dimensional vampires, the survivor of a massacre telling their tale with Iron Man’s help, and a family adventure starring members of the school bearing Strange’s name.

With Death of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone #1 we get a magical story centered on family, but a much different take as Elsa and Cullen Bloodstone gain a new sibling and learn just how much more stuff their father was up to over the centuries.

Tini Howard has been making a mark on magical things as of late, what with her just recently ended Excalibur series and soon launching Knights of X, and she continues that here but in a very different way. There is a lot of magical stuff here, as one would expect in a tie-in to a Doctor Strange story, but what is really important is the big character moments that Elsa, Cullen, and their new sister Lyra.

Elsa is a very fun character, but she’s often used in very one-note sort of ways because of her position as a monster hunter. Honestly, I was a bit surprised that Tini took that and turned it around to a place where Elsa comes out of this story with a different sort of mission aimed more at the magical beings and forces that tend to be the ones behind monsters appearances on Earth. Starting it off with a scene where she doesn’t kill a monstrous being but knocks it out because she realizes it doesn’t mean harm but is just giving into instincts as it finds itself on a strange plane of existence, helps set this swerve up perfectly.

Much like the aforementioned Blade or Strange Academy one-shots, I enjoy that this one uses the overall focus of Strange’s death as more of just a background thing that happened and led to this moment while allowing the characters and what they are going through to take center stage. There is a ton that happens here including a big development for Cullen (who really needs to appear far more often I say) and a new status quo for the Bloodstone siblings.

Ig Guara has such a smooth and almost slick style to his artwork, which is really showcased well in the very energetic action sequences. It almost feels like the characters and things are actually in motion, and the big moments feel weighty and impactful. It helps that the world is also so very detailed, down to even the somewhat blurred buildings or items in the background. There is action but this is heavily a character/dialogue-heavy issue and Guara keeps succeeding there as the emotional beats hit well with the body language and facial expressions that fit what is needed.

Books within this superhero-like sphere are often colorful, and that’s the case here but there are some things that Dijjo Lima does that stand out nicely. Overall the colors of the world of the Bloodstones, within their manor and even elsewhere are almost dulled to a point. They are colorful but not too bright or poppy, feeling more grounded and common in some cases. This works great since the magical supernatural elements at play are given color tones that are brighter and stand out more, making the magic pop and seem even more otherworldly compared to the ‘real world’ we see.

Lettering is a magical craft in its own way, and Joe Caramagna wields that power quite well. So many little pieces here or there that make things look different but still fit together within this same world. By that, I mean all the little ways that font is emphasized in dialogue along with the way that various fonts and balloons change to fit the different characters/creatures that are making the various noises. Along with the SFX that swirl around the page with the same pops of color as the magical or fantastical elements they are connected to.

The Death Of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone #1 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.

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