Mark Waid’s excellent first Doctor Strange story arc comes to a close this week and it not only comes with a satisfying conclusion, but an ending that will literally drop your jaw to the floor. It’s an issue that continues to look gorgeous (how does Jesus Saiz keep the quality so high every issue?) and gives readers closure and satisfaction to boot.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
This is the end of the start of Marvel’s “fresh start” with Doctor Strange. So far he’s learned quite a bit and got his mojo back. We’ve also seen a really cool angle on magic in the universe.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I couldn’t be more delighted with how this story unfolds. It opens with Stephen Strange slowly building up his skills, building magical weapons and working under the tutelage of an expert weapon-making dwarf. Waid and Saiz do a great job, not only showing Dr. Strange working on different magical weapons over time, but also at showing the passage of time as well. Dr. Strange may have a friend to save, but he’s going to take his time to make sure he’s prepared as best he can. That leads to the eventual conflict very well since you’ll be pumped to see how Doctor Strange has grown doing his metal work.
The eventual climactic battle is done very well too breaking from your expectations with a twist or two. Magic is an unwieldy thing and so is Strange who does the unexpected while also making it look really cool. By the end of the issue we’re given a Doctor Strange who is without a doubt the strongest and most certain we’ve ever seen. It’s partly why the cliffhanger is so damn jaw-droppingly good.
Saiz draws in his painterly style here and it’s gorgeous. From the way Strange’s slicing through reality looks pretty to Strange’s glistening body as he works the metal and kiln you’ll get a sense of the journey endured here. Additionally there’s some cool costume design fans will enjoy like Doctor Strange’s final armored look and even the apron he wears when he works on his magical weapons.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The only gripe I had with the issue is Kanna and how she’s played as a damsel, more or less. She was a fascinating addition to the story and her dynamic with Stephen Strange was great, but she doesn’t get much to do beyond follow orders and plead for help. I’m hoping she’s used more thoroughly in future issues.
Is it good?
What can I say beyond the fact that this is one hell of a finish to the first arc. It not only delivers on building the character, but also on a climactic finale. It’s about as good as any of the Marvel movies (are you listening Feige? This could be a good solo movie) and it even comes with an after credits scene that’ll blow you away.