Strange Academy, the school-life magic comic created by Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos, was one of the many new Marvel books that found its stride interrupted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The first issue, released way back in early March, saw the aforementioned creative architects hitting their imaginative strides. It was fun, vibrant and deep in the Marvel magic mythos without becoming a book only accessible for insiders. Thankfully, even with the first issue a distant memory, the second issue in this current ongoing is as satisfying and accessible as the first.
In this issue, we are thrown into the daily life of the high school magic students at Dr. Strange’s new academy for magic powered beings. Students start their day rushing for breakfast and dressing to impress, while attending the variety of magic-themed periods on their daily schedule. The narrative’s pace is brisk, giving the reader the overwhelming anxiety each student must feel being thrown into an environment where trolls and fairies are just part of your academic cohort.
Young and Ramos pack every page with bliss and bounce, complemented by Edgar Delgado’s crisp colors, giving the student environments a pastel quality. Everything here is fun and inviting. Ramos packs each cell with abundant action and detail; based on the care given to every inch of the page, it is clear this is a passion project for the already accomplished artists.
The art jives well with the comical approach offered by Young, using rather dark characters like The Ancient One and the Scarlet Witch appropriately to match the cheerful school environment. It seems perfectly acceptable to see Magik deliver dad jokes at the start of the school day, followed by banishing two of her students to hell for interrupting class. It’s a welcome reminder that even when confronting these nefarious environments, a skillful writer and artist can keep you grounded in their desired tone. Just having Man-Thing teaching a horticulture class is enough to warm any longtime Marvel reader’s heart without bogging the narrative down in exposition.
That isn’t to say there isn’t conflict in this book. Clearly, the focus will be on the characters learning to manage their powers and survive the complicated world of high school, but the instructors also allude to bigger problems on the horizon for the Strange Academy — difficulties they may be complicit in. With at least two mutant mainstays on the staff payroll, I could easily see some of our teenage Krakoan teams interacting with this new cast of school-aged magic users.
Given the popularity of the broader magic school genre, I am shocked Marvel waited this long to try a book like this. With its lighthearted tone, remarkable art and deep reverence for Marvel canon while also introducing a dozen new characters, this has quickly become one of my favorite comics currently published. We are only two issues in, but I am eagerly anticipating the next issue.