School’s Out Forever? Reviewing ‘Strange Academy’ #17

by Scott Redmond

Overview

After seventeen issues everything ‘Strange Academy’ has been building begins to crumble as everything crashes down around the cast. This series has consistently proven that despite what many say, books with teenage casts can and do work in comics. Hopefully, the next volume of this story is not far away as there is so much great potential left in this world.

Overall
9/10
9/10

There is only one big issue left before the students of the Strange Academy conclude this first round of courses, as they face some heavy changes and consequences for their actions. Much like a lot of the world right now, Doctor Voodoo and the rest of the Strange Academy staff are surely learning that the children will not suffer the foolishness of the older generations.

Alongside all of the moments where these characters have been able to grow, and magical exploits being showcased, there have been a number of plotlines weaved through these seventeen issues. While many of them seemed to be separate, focused on different characters, little by little they have been weaved together. Whatever Skottie Young’s endgame is with this volume of the series, it’s beginning to become a lot clearer as we approach the finale.

Having watched these characters grow and interact, it was quite heartbreaking to watch as they came to blows this issue as divisions we were warned about became a reality. From day one we were shown a picture of a school that was held together by the thinnest of foundations, the sins, and the absence of its namesake causing issues from the beginning. Even with Doctor Strange’s death, his sins and the sins of others are still weighing heavily on every one that is at the Academy and it was only a matter of time before it broke like this.

Every bit of the usual magical energy is still on display as Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado bring this world to life. There is still the brightness and shadows with a magical quality to it from the last issue, but this time rather than it being centered around the lightness of a school dance this issue captures the increasingly darker tones as Doyle single-handedly demolishes his friends/the student body. There is great dynamic energy in these pages but what really stands out is how perfectly every bit of the painful heart-wrenching emotions are clear on the page.

Ramos’s paneling is just so great, especially in the action pages. There is an ordered chaos to the way the pages are set up which is perfect for such a no-holds-barred magic fight. They become more ordered as they reach the endpoint of the fight, one especially standing out with Emily and Doyle facing off, an angry Gus standing outside glaring in through the window unable to help their friends. There are flashes of bright color that pop in and out of the panels, fading to darker tones as the threads begin to unravel through the issue.

There is magic within the words as well, thanks to the lettering work of Clayton Cowles. Because of the way that he makes the dialogue realistic, from changing font sizes for volume to other emphasizers, we can also perfectly feel every single bit of emotion radiating from these characters. I also really love how there are different fonts and bubble styles used for different characters to showcase how different their ‘voices’ are and to set their dialogue apart from others. From Doyle’s jagged bubbles to the Asgardian-like font for Iric and Alvi or the ominous white font on black bubbles of Gaslamp.

Strange Academy #17 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.

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