Mark Waid has been writing the definitive Doctor Strange for a new era for some time. He’s written great Doctor Strange stories in decades past, but his most recent stories turning Doctor Strange into a space magician, a forger of magical weapons, and now adventurer by night and surgeon by day are unparalleled. The character is deeply rich with so many avenues to explore. In the fifth issue, out today in comic book shops, Stephen Strange must navigate magical realms.
This issue opens with Stephen in the Realm of Nidavellir. He’s facing off against two creepy monsters who have hammers for a good beating. As he battles we’re inside Stephen’s head as the captions play out every fear, thought, and confusion he has in battle. It’s a good way to keep us in tune with the Sorcerer Supreme, but also a means to keep the action moving. Opening the book with this scene, a cliffhanger from the last issue gives the book a nice extra kick before it dives into its next turn.
The rest of the issue plays out with a keen sense of pace and intrigue. Stephen goes back to his surgery job, we check in with a few reoccurring characters, and soon we’re off to a new magical realm. The imaginative nature to the realms — the rules, creatures, and oddities in each — is excellent stuff. Fans of Strange Academy shouldn’t miss this issue either. This issue also has a story within the story which is always a great way to add a bit of myth and mysticism to a tale.
Kev Walker and his excellent artwork is half of the storytelling bravado here. Along with colorist Java Tartaglia, this book has a great sense in each environment. Beasts abound in this issue and they look fantastical and evil in just the right ways. There’s an excellent flashback montage that clues us into a tragic tale but does so in a topsy-turvy way that keeps your attention up.
I liked this issue for the sense of adventure and expansion of the magical worlds Stephen Strange seems to be able to trot into at a moment’s notice. For the longest time, Marvel Comics has clipped this character’s wings by reducing his abilities but now it seems we’re steering directly into the awesome charms that go beyond just abracadabra.