The much-anticipated Death of Doctor Strange is out this week, and it feels like it has been in the works for ages. Marvel has teased the first issue, revealed new monsters, and announced tie-ins too, but the opening salvo is finally here. Written by Jed MacKay and drawn by Lee Garbett, the first issue sets up the personality of Doctor Strange and, presumably, kills him off. Death in comics may not be uncommon, but when done well it can stand as iconic.
This is a spoiler-free review, so nothing that hasn’t already been seen in the preview will be spoiled.
This issue serves as a great jumping-on point for readers who haven’t been following Doctor Strange for the last five to ten years. We get a recap of Doctor Strange’s life at home, at work, and how he’s still the superhero fighting villains in the New York streets. In a word, Doctor Strange is comfortable. The man has lived a full life at this point and he’s even been a teacher at the Strange Academy, so one might conclude a shake-up is in order.
There is actually a death in this issue, one tied to a rather clever idea that is so tantalizing most readers will be dying to read the second issue. That’s a good sign for this miniseries as well as the tie-in books. We’re given just enough to go rush to our friends and talk about it, but it’s slim pickings on what the ramifications are of this cliffhanger.
Structurally this first issue offers chapter breaks, which gives it a storied feel. It’s like we’re reading history as it happened.
Art by Garbett is good. It feels wholesome and warm, which suits the focus on Doctor Strange’s blessed life. Monsters are limited, and boy is we awaiting the monsters since Marvel has already shown their designs, but action is also limited. Garbett does well with what he has to show off. There’s a breeziness to the visuals that suit the autumn setting and the general vibe of Doctor Strange.
Running five issues long, this first issue feels a touch slow, as if it’s biding its time for the next issue rather than rushing ahead. That can make it feel a bit too relaxed. It’s also a bit long in the tooth when it comes to dialogue-heavy scenes. One, in particular, is only three pages but it’s like a lesson on things to know and hints at key figures in the narrative. These things don’t make the book bad by any means, but they limit the impact of the first issue.
The Death of Doctor Strange #1 is a good start, especially for fans who haven’t caught up with Doctor Strange for some time. It recaps his life, sets up where he’s at mentally and drops a hammer by the end. That hammer has crazy potential for what Doctor Strange might be in the next issue and beyond, making this an exciting series not to be missed.
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