Monday, March 7, 2016

Dr. Strange in Time and Space

Dr. Strange: The Oath: written by Brian K. Vaughan; illustrated by Marcos Martin and others (2006-2007/Collected 2007): The ubiquitous, excellent Mr. Vaughan and an able Marcos Martin team up for a most pleasing adventure of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange. 

With long-time man-servant/bodyguard/pal Wong dying of cancer, Strange sets out to find a magical cure. But powerful earthly forces -- well, Big Pharma -- don't want any such cure found. And they've got their own magician, along with a hired mercenary, to stop Strange's attempts.

All that and a magic-soaked handgun that's peculiarly lethal to magicians regardless of what defensive spells they have up. It's all a rousing, often very funny trip into the odd world of Dr. Strange, and one of the good Doctor's most memorable adventures since his glory days in the 1960's being written and illustrated by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Highly recommended.

Dr. Strange: Prelude to The Last Days of Magic: written by Jason Aaron; illustrated by Chris Bachalo and others (2015-2016): Dr. Strange has been cancelled so many times as a comic book that I can't really fault Marvel for going with a revisionist take on the character in his new comic. I don't agree with some of writer Jason Aaron's retcons and personality tweaks, but I understand them: this Dr. Strange is a lot more sarcastic and a lot less self-assured than most of his previous incarnations. 

Aaron introduces one retcon that's quite interesting without really being consistent with all previous versions of the Sorcerer Supreme: magic takes a horrible physical toll on Strange. I guess we just never noticed before. So it is with major retcons. 

In any event, the magical menaces Aaron comes up with are fun and interesting. Chris Bachalo's art is almost perfect for the visionary horrors of Dr. Strange's world -- his monsters and magical vistas are indeed monstrous and magical. 

Only that odd, persistent Bachalo whoopsy-cuteness in the faces of characters detracts from things, and I don't think Bachalo's going to lose that artistic tic now, even in the build-up to some gigantic magical apocalypse that's about to commence at the end of issue 5. This may not be my ideal Dr. Strange, but it's certainly worth a read -- it's one of the best 'superhero' books currently on the 'stands.' Recommended.

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