A few years back, during House of M, I turned to one of my friends and said, “I think Strange’s time is up. They obviously have no idea how to write him or what to do with him, so I say strip him of the Sorcerer Supreme bit and set him up as Marvel’s answer to Constantine – a wizard who knows a lot but has limited powers and a whole lot of enemies.” Well it seems Marvel has heard my wish, or at least a third of it, because Strange #1 deals with the infamous Dr. Strange, now largely powerless, facing off against a powerful foe. The other two thirds – that it be a dark urban fantasy/horror combo and that I write it – are understandably ditched in favor of a surprisingly light-hearted adventure written by some guy named Mark Waid.
Emma Rios is a large part of the atmosphere, providing cartoonish illustrations that, combined with lively coloring by Christina Strain, keep the tone light and exaggerated. It largely works, thanks to the fact that Waid goes out of his way to match their manic energy. Some of the scenes on the field – did I mention it revolves around a demonic baseball game? – suffer from an excess of energy, hitting the point of near-incomprehension and sailing right on by, but for the most part, the team works well together.
The issue is not without flaws, but it successfully introduces the new way things will work for the good Doctor. Though it does little to suggest that the book will be particularly memorable, it does promise a fun adventure that will finally, hopefully move Stephen Strange out of the dull limbo in which the character has been stuck these last couple years.
– Cal Cleary