Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Release Date: 7th October, 2015
Okay, full disclosure before we begin… ahem…
Hi, my name’s Craig and I’ve never, ever read a Doctor Strange comic before.
Yes, I know the basic gist of the character, but outside of his appearance in the occasional event series or crossover, I’ve never really felt inclined to seek out any of his solo books. That is, however, until now. It’s because of the movie, right? The upcoming Marvel Studios Benedict Cumberbatch-led film? Nah. The reason I have this particular comic in my grubby little hands right now is because of two words.
From his work on Thor: God of Thunder, Thor, Thors, Southern Bastards, Men of Wrath… I could go on… I’ve been absolutely enamoured with Aaron’s writing for the last few years, even going so far as to name him my Best Writer of 2014. So when I heard he was writing the new Doctor Strange comic, any previous indifference towards the character was instantly swept away in a swirling tsunami of “I absolutely need to get this!”
So, to the comic itself. Coming in as an absolute newcomer, I’m not able to accurately comment on whether this latest series is true to the Doctor Strange his fans all know and love. Nor am I able to pick out any subtle adjustments or tweaks that Aaron has made in order to make the character his own. Instead, all I can comment on is this comic’s individual merit as an attention-grabbing first issue and as an introduction to the character as a whole. So how did it do? Well, let’s just say that when I put it down, I found myself instantly wanting to seek out some back issues, trades, anything to find out more about this utterly intriguing lead character.
Aaron absolutely nails the introduction here, presenting Strange as a powerful, charismatic and inherently flawed individual. There’s a light-hearted sense of humor present throughout this first issue, mixed with occasional moments of genuine peril. Steven Strange feels almost like a slightly less self-destructive, less chain-smoking Constantine in the way he approaches his craft, with a caring, relatable demeanour that belies the absurd nature of his ‘day job’.
Artist Chris Bachalo does an absolutely stunning job here as well, providing his usual slick, stylised lines and contributing some truly jaw-dropping splash pages along the way. His characters, Strange in particular, are expressive and emotive, and he manages to capture the more supernatural elements of the book beautifully, whether it be many-tentacled inter-dimensional beasts or giant marauding teddy bears (yeah, you heard me).
The dialogue is smooth and natural-sounding, with Aaron giving Strange a distinct voice, an offbeat charm that never comes across as smarmy or conceited. The story itself is fairly pedestrian thus far, it has to be said – something about a ‘big bad’ coming that has all the other demons and supernatural monsters spooked – but this is a first issue that is all about the character, all about the introduction, and for me… it hit the mark beautifully.
So yes, I’ll be on board with this series for as long as Jason Aaron is. Serving as an utterly captivating introduction to the world of the Sorcerer Supreme, this is as close to a must-buy first issue as you could hope for. Never had any interest in Doctor Strange before? Doesn’t matter. By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, this is your new favourite Marvel series.
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