Spinning out of “The Death of Doctor Strange,” writer Jed MacKay did the bold thing and made Clea the Sorcerer Supreme. As the love of Stephen Strange’s life, it only makes sense she’d take up the mantle, but what is this new series Strange trying to be? That’s a question I asked in my review of the first issue, but in Strange #3, it’s becoming much more obvious what MacKay is seeking.
So far, Clea has had to deal with terrorists with guns (which also have magical abilities) and the mean streets of New York. That includes gangsters, which is just where Strange #3 starts. Clea is looking for answers, and The Rose is where she’ll find them. He readily underestimates her, and soon she’s tracking down the men in black masks who are causing much of trouble. Soon Clea is under attack and shows how her magic, and her approach to violence, are far different than Stephen Strange.
This issue is great at showing how magic abilities can be entwined in gangster drama, with a heavy dose of action. Typically, Doctor Strange is embroiled in adventures involving mystical creatures or worlds, but here we see Clea is mystical enough for the narrative. Not only can she shakedown badass gangster bosses, but she can take on enemies with magically-boosted machine guns!
In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the early ’90s Marvel Knights series. This issue feels grounded in reality but doesn’t pull its punches when the fantastical emerges. It also feels quite adult and modern, and that’s a great place to land.
This issue is masterfully plotted, too. There isn’t a boring scene, or an exposition dump to be seen. That’s, of course, thanks to Marcelo Ferreira, who keeps you on the edge of your seat in the opening scene with The Rose and Clea, or feeling the heart when Wong and Clea cook. This issue ebbs and flows nicely, giving readers a taste of who Clea is and how she’s not some goody-two-shoes superhero in the least.
Ferreira also does exceptional work with stories set in darkness or that have a darker vibe. That’s obvious from his work on Amazing Spider-Man, but you see it in the opening scene here as well. He’s backed up by inkers Roberto Poggi and Don ho, with colors by Java Tartaglia. They work well together — the use of shadow from the shades of a window on The Rose is moody and well done thanks to the cohesive artwork.
Clea’s facial expressions are great, too, bending into supervillain grimaces at the drop of a hat. When the masked men opened fire, Ferreira layers them in a way that shows a lot of robust action, with great machine gun sounds taking up every inch behind the gangsters. It’s unclear if Cory Petit lettered these sound effects, but it’s great stuff nonetheless. Clea’s expression in a full-page splash as she freezes bullets is quite something, too.
I was on the fence with Strange, but Strange #3 made me a believer. MacKay clearly has a strong take on the Sorcerer Supreme, albeit with a darker edge. Strange takes Marvel magic to a new gritty street level, and so far it’s going like gangbusters.
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