Review – Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Marvel Comics
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.

Jason.  Aaron.

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.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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3 Comments on Review – Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

  1. For your back-issue excursions while waiting for more new stuff, here’s my recommendations:

    First… what to avoid…
    Anything and everything after 1997. Well up until 2015, of course.

    Reading list:
    Strange Tales (1st series) #110, 111, 114-168 (continues into Doctor Strange, 1st series -this happens a lot for him)
    Doctor Strange (1st series) #169-183 (then a dhort break before…)
    Marvel Premiere #3-14 (continues into Doctor Strange, 2nd series)
    Doctor Strange (2nd series) #1-81, Annual #1 (continues into Strange Tales, 2nd series)
    Strange Tales (2nd series) #1-19 (pretty much a bridge between his last ongoing and his next, as it continues into…)
    Doctor Strange (3rd series) #1-90, Annual #2-4 (note- the Annuals continue numbering from the last series)
    Doctor Strange Into Shamballa GN (released in 1986, near the end of the 2nd series)
    Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom Triumph and Torment GN (1989, shortly after the 3rd series began)
    Doctor Strange vs. Dracula Special (1994, reprints two stories featuring Dr. Strange fighting Dracula, one of which is Tomb of Dracula #44; skip this if you get the Doctor Strange vs. Dracula The Montesi Formula TPB as it covers it there, too)
    Doctor Strange What is It That Disturbs You, Stephen? GN (released in 1997, following the end of the third series; it’s an updated retelling of the first Annual and has some gorgeous art by P. Craig Russell)

    Doctor Strange: Flight of Bones #1-4 (a 1999 mini-series that didn’t quite win people over enough for a new series)

    The older stuff can be found in Marvel Masterworks (covers Strange Tales up to Doctor Strange, 2nd series, #22) or Essentials (covering from Strange Tales #110 up to Doctor Strange, 2nd series, #56), or even digitally through Marvel Unlimited or Comixology.
    The Marvel Premiere issues were collected in a TPB, A Separate Reality.

    Everything from the second Doctor Strange series onward has been pretty sketchy in both TPBs and digital, however.
    Marvel Unlimited and Comixology both only have a handful of issues currently from the 2nd and 3rd series.

    Meanwhile in TPB…
    Doctor Strange vs. Dracula The Montesi Formula TPB reprints #’s 14 and 58-62 of the second series, as well as Tomb of Dracula #44
    Doctor Strange Into the Dark Dimension HC covers #68-74 of the second series.
    Doctor Strange Don’t Pay the Ferryman TPB (just released) reprints the last seven issues (#75-81) of the 2nd series.
    Doctor Strange Strange Tales TPB puts the entire 19-issue run of Strange Tales (2nd series) in one book. The Dr. Strange stories only, of course. The original issues each had two features- one with Doctor Strange and the other with Cloak & Dagger. They did cross over in one issue and that Cloak & Dagger story is included.

    My personal favorite run would be from Doctor Strange (2nd series) #42 thru Doctor Strange (3rd series) #59, including the 19-issue Strange Tales bridge.

    • Looks like I’ve got some reading to do! Thanks so much for taking the time to put that together, Lee. Very much appreciated (Ceej)

      • Lee Stone // October 11, 2015 at 1:30 am //

        You’re very welcome.

        I’m actually hoping the new series and upcoming movie will prompt Marvel to reprint the rest of the 2nd and 3rd series. Or at least make them available digitally.

        One thing I’m really thankful for the Thor movie is that most of his older material has been brought back out.

        Marvel’s been doing really good at reprinting stuff from the ’60s, and modern comics have been getting a trade collection almost as soon as an arc is finished. But the ’70s through ’90s have been kinda left in the dark.

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