Stephen Strange has been our world’s Sorcerer Supreme for decades, but now he has been replaced by none other than the God of Mischief himself, Loki Laufeyson. Forced to give up his cloak, his house, and his friend and assistant Zelma Stanton, Stephen must find help by other means to reclaim his title and stop Loki from abusing his newfound powers. So is it good?
Doctor Strange: God of Magic collects issues #381-385 and is written by Donny Cates with illustrations by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. This volume collects the Dr. Strange event from late last year in which Loki assumes the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme and quite literally kicks Stephen to the curb. The trade documents both Stephen’s and Loki’s struggle to transition into their new lives. Stephen’s difficulty to transition back to a regular career while dealing with the humiliation of losing his power and Loki’s hesitance to use his new powers for selfish reasons result in a climatic battle featuring some seldom seen characters and may shape Stephen Strange’s mythology going forward. This was Cates and Walta fist team-up for the series and both came out of the gates to impress with a creative and original story.
It has been a very long time since I’ve read any Dr. Strange series, but I found this volume incredibly well written and thoroughly entertaining. It has all the elements of a quality Dr. Strange story: a hunt for an old mythic spell, various character cameos, and exciting spellcasting duels. But what I enjoyed most of all was Cate’s realistic and humane portrayal of the characters. While it’s easy to label Loki the villain and Strange the hero of the novel, you really couldn’t make a strong case for which character deserves these archetypical roles. Both characters display their strengths and faults as well as good and poor decision making and one could even say Stephen was even more destructive and manipulative than Loki.
It’s a trade that sticks with you and requires you to contemplate the story even after you’ve finished reading which is a clear sign of brilliant character development and story-telling. In addition to creating a refreshingly objective story-telling perspective, Cates is able to consistently incorporate a good amount of humor in each issue while still being able to create some poignant and sentimental scenes. Walta’s artwork is a perfect medium for a Strange series and has a wide range that covers the gritty action sequences in demonic realms to the emotional confliction Loki’s eye. Jordie Bellaire also deserves credit for her amazing color work and the way she illuminates each page of spells or the subtle pink glow in a dark club.
So Is It Good?
I was really impressed with what this creative team was able to put together, especially when I found out this was their first story arc with the series. It was enough to convince me to add it to my pull list and I’d recommend the trade for new and old readers alike as it’s reader friendly and a quality storyline. This was a top notch creative team who knocked this one out of the park.
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