Connect with us
Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War’ finds focus without losing itself to tie-in troubles

Steeped in crossover, plot-hijacking, and, somehow, a rich examination of the mystic lore of the Marvel Universe.

One of the most regrettable (and most profitable) aspects of an increasingly event- and crossover-driven comic universe is the requisite plot-derailing tie-in issue. For longtime followers of a series, having the dramatic beats and overarching character growth you’ve been eagerly awaiting put on the back burner feels like an exasperating waste of time, especially if you aren’t invested in the larger event. On the other hand, tie-in issues can drum up readership for books with drooping sales, hopefully catching the eye of new readers for that series in the process.

In some cases, however, the creative team can roll with an editorial mandate with incredible grace, adapting the larger event to explore themes already extant in the book.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!
Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
I’m sure that’s fine.
Marvel Comics

In Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War, we see the perfect illustration of both sides of that icy street. Bookended by separate chapters of the Infinity Saga, the book is steeped in crossover, in plot-hijacking, and, somehow, in a rich examination of the mystic lore of the Marvel Universe.

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
This, also, is fine.
Marvel Comics

1988’s Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme had already established itself as a book deeply concerned with its own roots. Long experienced Strange writer (and historic fan documentarian) Roy Thomas, along with his wife, writer Dann Thomas, had been working to establish a more modern, more urbane take on the series in the main body of the book, while backup features with French media historian RJM Lofficier worked hard to streamline the long and complicated mythology muddied by a quarter-century of unchecked, orchestrated creativity.

The book struggled, however, with its month-to-month narrative, often failing to find any growth all its own. That obsession with what had come before consistently became a barrier tripping up its own inventiveness.

So when it was effectively taken over as one of the key supporting sub-stories of Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim’s Infinity Gauntlet, it felt as if something had finally clicked. Sure, it meant the book had been co-opted—hijacked—but it also meant that the Thomases were given a new trajectory, a new lens with which to explore the mythos.

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
I assure you, it’s *fine*.
Marvel Comics

The Infinity Gauntlet issues, taken alone, illustrate the worst problems of tie-ins. Lacking connective tissue, each issue puts the reader in unknown territory. However, with a different, larger narrative to lend pressing context, the book’s examinations and visitations of previous mythology is given new life. We are given a reason for looking back, because now it’s all relevant.

The issues between Gauntlet and War seem emboldened, and make constant use of the Marvel Universe outside of Strange’s smaller frame of reference. In Lofficier-heavy #37, the entire history surrounding Marvel’s take on Frankenstein’s Monster is laid out with the clinical efficiency of a historic text by playing off of Strange’s renewed relationship with the Silver Surfer.

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
Seriously. This issue *rules*.
Marvel Comics

Actual action begins to manifest. In this period, a team of Big Bads spells an eccentric (but still historically informative) arc. Later, the impossible-to-avoid Wolverine cameo is used to explore recurring X-Men demons, the N’Garai.

By the time Infinity War rolls around, the book all but side-steps the main event, preferring instead to examine the cosmic with Surfer, Galactus, and (of all people) Juggernaut. While supporting IW (and, indeed, delivering characters pivotal to that plot to the places they need to be), Doctor Strange nearly avoids the larger story so that it can visit Vishanti and Cyttorak.

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War shows Sorcerer Supreme find its stride—just as other comics succumbed to the worst aspects of the crossover tie-in. It’s informative, inventive, and actually filled with action, which makes it a far more compelling and effective book than the previous volume.

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
‘Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War’ finds focus without losing itself to tie-in troubles
Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Infinity War
Though previous volumes lost steam and direction, Infinity War finds renewed purpose and drive.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Overcomes the problems of crossover tie-ins.
Finds a new frame to do its lore- and hisotry-heavy restructuring.
Pits Doctor Strange against compelling cosmic beings, and reinvents Marvel's metaphysical workings.
Suffers periodically from dry narrative and emotionless cast.
7.5
Good
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

sundance film festival sundance film festival

[Sundance ’23] ‘Infinity Pool’ review: Grotesquely beautiful and hedonistic ride

Movie Reviews

X-Men Monday #189 - Benjamin Percy Talks 'X-Force', 'Wolverine', and 'Ghost Rider/Wolverine: Weapons of Vengeance' X-Men Monday #189 - Benjamin Percy Talks 'X-Force', 'Wolverine', and 'Ghost Rider/Wolverine: Weapons of Vengeance'

X-Men Monday #189 – Benjamin Percy Talks ‘X-Force’, ‘Wolverine’, and ‘Ghost Rider/Wolverine: Weapons of Vengeance’

Comic Books

Marvel Preview: Scarlet Witch #2 Marvel Preview: Scarlet Witch #2

Marvel Preview: Scarlet Witch #2

Comic Books

Marvel Preview: X-Force #37 Marvel Preview: X-Force #37

Marvel Preview: X-Force #37

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup