Review – Marvel’s ‘DOCTOR STRANGE’ #1 – 7 (2019)…

It’s been a while since I’ve committed to an ongoing Doctor Strange book.

Which is no reflection of my affections for Doctor Strange as a character or for the tapestry of mystical mythology that this iconic character exists in. But there are only so many books I can commit to at any time, and Doc Strange usually just happens to fall short of the list.

This time I made it a point to get on board.

This one offered something different and interesting from the get-go. From Doctor Strange #1 onwards, this time we’re not spiralling in spells and incantations, amulets or talismans or eyes of agomotto: there’s no magic, in fact – because Stephen Strange has lost his magical abilities.

This Stephen Strange we meet in Doctor Strange #1 is downcast, separated from his powers, and struggling to find purpose, meaning or direction. It’s an interesting change from the usual Doctor Strange we see always brimming with power, tricks, confidence and assuredness – the perpetual master of the mystic arts.

This first issue does a lot right: chiefly having Stephen go to Tony Stark specifically for counsel. Tony is his usual laconic self, but he does point the Doctor in a new direction: essentially, the direction for this series – outer space.

While Doctor Strange in Space feels like – and is – a gimmick (it’s a tried-and-tested route: Tony Stark in Space, Hulk in Space, heck, even Venom in Space: and not forgetting, of course, Muppets in Space), it still opens up some fresh storytelling possibilities that the next several installments explore.

What transpires over those installments isn’t necessarily groundbreaking or anything spectacular.

What we instead get is a fun, easy-flowing series of little stories, set on a different planet each time, all centering on Stephen’s quest to find magical artifacts that could help him rekindle his own waning magical flame.

While this series at times feels lightweight, it’s always enjoyable, always colourful and vibrant.

It helps that Stephen is joined for all of it by a sidekick he encounters in Doctor Strange #1 while in prison – an alien ‘arcanologist’ named – and that this character is actually a fun addition to the affair, giving Stephen someone to play off of.

They make a good double-act as the series goes on.

Other ingredients – like Strange’s meeting with the dwarf to help him construct a magical weapon, or his skirmish with the Skrulls in Doctor Strange #3 – help everything to stay connected to the broader Marvel Universe tapestry.

There’s nothing too special or groundbreaking about this run: but it’s a fun diversion that takes Strange in a different direction for a while. Definitely worth the time if you’re a Doctor Strange fan – maybe take-it-or-leave-it if you’re not.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.

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