I’ve been a Doctor Strange fan for a while now. When out-of-the-way, not-as-popular-as-the-rest superheroes were getting movies left and right, I found myself salivating, waiting for the day they’d announce Doctor Strange. I knew it was only a matter of time, and here we are only months away from the premiere.
Yet my knowledge of him from the comics feels so limited. Every time I encountered him, he was part of a larger story or someone else’s comic. Popping in to be awesome for a moment then gone again. I’d watched the 2007 animated film, but that doesn’t really feel like enough (though it was good, and I recommend it). So I’m diving deeper at long last, and trust me when I say this was overdue. Here’s a wrap-up of four miniseries I read recently.
Doctor Strange: Season One by Greg Pak. Eh. I wish I could say more than “eh”, but it was very eh. This was a retelling of the good doctor’s origin story, and it really didn’t go the way I expected. It was clearly written to suit a newer audience, so the soul-searching you expect a man like Stephen Strange to do consisted of “he’s a jerk… now he’s good.” Not much of an arc there. Wong, his trusty assistant, is here, and wildly out of character. They spend the entire story sniping at each other and vaguely fighting over some randomly inserted woman. The whole thing felt like a buddy action flick, not the magical, paranormal ride I thought I’d signed up for. Funnily enough, this probably isn’t the place to start for new readers, as I think it gives the wrong first impression. Rating: 3/5
Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa by J.M. DeMatteis. Now this is what I’m talking about. This was all about Strange diving within himself, solving a spiritual mystery, changing the world, and learning what kind of man he is. The artwork was gorgeous. The writing was poetic and lovely. The story was secondary to the character development we get with Strange himself. This is definitely the kind of thing I prefer to an action-heavy, goofball plot. Highly recommended, and a good place to start if you’re looking for one. Rating: 5/5
Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan. Vaughan has seen a huge burst in popularity with his series Saga, and this is not my first go with him. He’s a fantastic writer, and he proves that every time I pick up one of his comics. The Oath tackles not only Strange as a sorcerer but as a physician. The oath in question is his Hippocratic one, and I like that element being present. That Strange is the sort of person that, while he’s sometimes veered from the path, he wants to help people. His decision to be a doctor in the first place was part of that. This one beautifully balances that character study with a plot full of twists, turns, and crazy magic. Rating: 4/5
Strange: The Doctor Is Out! by Mark Waid. There seemed to be some backlash against this one, but I’ll say upfront, I loved it. Strange has, for reasons that were never explained within the comic itself, lost the majority of his powers. He can still do a few little things, but mostly he’s not the Sorcerer Supreme he once was. In trying to fix a little demon problem, he runs into a young woman with a special knack for magic. Adventure and possible apprenticeship ensues.
Casey, the apprentice in question, was a great character. I fell in love with her very quickly. The artwork was fantastic, and I especially have to compliment the monster design here. I also really loved this version of Strange. He was grizzled, world-weary, and Constatine-esque, and I saw nothing there to hate to be sure. I would’ve loved to see more from this version of him, since it was a great jumping off point for a “paranormal investigator” series. Again, for starting points, this isn’t great. But if you’re reading a lot about the character, this might be a refreshing take for you. Rating: 5/5
There you have it! And this is just so far. I intend to read more and report back. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know. If you’re trying to get started on reading more about this character, I hope this helped in some way.
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