Review: Doctor Strange #12

October 10th, 2016 | by Mitch Nissen
Review: Doctor Strange #12

Reviewed by:
On October 10, 2016
Last modified:October 10, 2016


Blood In The Aether, the new Doctor Strange story arc, kicks off with a bang! It's Boss Rush as all of Doctor Strange's enemies descend on him at once. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo continue their epic run on Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme.

Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, has been reduced to almost nothing. Sensing weakness, his enemies begin descending on Doctor Strange from all sides in this latest issue from Marvel Comics. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen is here with the scoop.

Review: Doctor Strange #12

Doctor Strange‘s blood is in the aether. The sharks are coming.


Marvel Comics‘ Doctor Strange #12 recently landed on comic shop stands everywhere and with it the beginning of a new story arc. The last eleven issues saw Doctor Strange and magic itself in a fight for their lives against the extra-dimensional science worshiping zealots, the Empirikul. Doctor Strange won the battle but at a heavy cost. Nearly all magic was destroyed.

Doctor Strange was left to pick up what pieces of magic remain.

Titled Blood In The Aether, issue #12 marks the beginning of a new story arc and perhaps an even greater threat than the Empirikul. Doctor Strange’s greatest foes have returned and each one is looking to put an end to their old enemy once and for all. It’s Boss Rush with barely any magic left in the gauge.

This could be the story Doctor Strange fans have been longing for for over twenty years.

The Synopsis (Spoilers)

Monday. Doctor Strange finds the pain monster from the cellar, now calling itself Mister Misery, about to torture and kill dozens of people at NYU Medical Center. Armed with mystic weaponry, loaded for bear, Doctor Strange manages to save everyone by redirecting Mister Misery’s rage towards himself. With a little magic bubblegum (I’m serious. Magic. Bubblegum.) Strange barely survives and the monster slithers away.

Story continues below


Credit: Marvel Comics

Tuesday. Baron Mordo knocks on the front door of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Fully powered and apparently unaffected by the Empirikul assault, Baron Mordo approaches. Mordo watches in amusement as Doctor Strange attacks with a magic apple and is nearly defeated by his own cloak. “Magic apples? This is even worse than I expected,” laments Mordo having never seen his old enemy reduced so.

Before Baron Mordo can attack, Doctor Strange is pulled into another dimension by another power. Strange finds himself in a frighteningly familiar landscape, one he had hoped to forget. “Hello, Doctor. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It would seem we have a bit of catching up to do. Tell me, had any good dreams lately?” asks Nightmare.

The Breakdown

Chris Bachalo is back after a month long break. With him as usual are his entourage of inkers, Tim Townsend, Richard Friend, Al Vey, Victor Olazaba, and John Livesay. And for the first time in his eleven issues it appears as if Chris Bachalo has passed on coloring duties completely to Antonio Fabela. Or so it would seem as Bachalo is credited in the issue simply as “Artist.”

Bachalo’s signature style is back in full steam. The artist holds nothing back in the start of this new story arc. There are a lot of outstanding images in issue #12 including Mister Misery wrapping his protean form around a multitude of characters at the hospital, Baron Mordo enveloped in a magic apple tree, and the full glory of Nightmare’s realm. For me the standout moment was Dormammu‘s possession of a young woman, warping and twisting her body, shredding and burning her flesh, all the while an echo of his astral image hovering in front. Visually frightening and a unique representation of the Dread One.


Credit: Marvel Comics

Bachalo’s art is consistent with his previous efforts on Doctor Strange maintaining the artist’s rough and sometimes abstract imagery. After eleven issues however this style of artwork seems to be losing its novelty. Bachalo’s backgrounds and human characters have begun looking similar. The spiraling landscapes for example and the rough scribbled anatomy of the characters feels a little too familiar. At least to this reader. It’s like having eleven bowls of Cookies n’ Cream ice cream in a row. Cookies n’ Cream may be the best ice cream ever but after so many bowls your senses become dulled to the flavor.

Sometimes a pallet cleanser is needed.

As for the story I’ve got to hand it to Jason Aaron. He knows exactly how to pull me back in. Doctor Strange has one of the most underrated rogues galleries in all comicdom. And it appears as if they’re all returning with a thirst for Strange’s blood.

Nearly all of his enemies are magic based, as one would expect. Throughout the Empirikul arc my primary concern was with these other staple characters of Doctor Strange’s world. Characters like Clea, Dormammu, Umar, Nightmare, Satannish, and the Vishanti were all unaccounted for. The Empirikul assault was on all magic. Without these characters the story wouldn’t have continuity with the classic Doctor Strange canon. And for a while it appeared as if this story was out of continuity completely.

Last week’s Doctor Strange Annual, written by Kathryn Immomen, brought the continuity back with a vengeance. Clea returned and revealed what happened with her during the Empirikul attack, barely surviving herself. We also see Stephen and Clea’s mystic rings for the first time in years, still possessing a little magic.

Story continues below


Credit: Marvel Comics

With the return of Baron Mordo, Dormammu, and Nightmare it appears even more continuity has returned. The idea of Doctor Strange being severely weakened and all his nigh omnipotent enemies returning to take a piece of him is exciting and ingenious. It also poses many questions, the biggest being how all these characters survived the Empirikul attack seemingly unscathed and at full magic power.

Once again Jason Aaron sets the task ahead of him very high. I’m choosing to be cautious with this story arc rather than get my hopes up too high as before. But it’s difficult not to get excited. Never before have all of Doctor Strange’s enemies attacked all at once. As a fan of Doctor Strange I am grateful to Immomen and Aaron for taking the time to make the story mesh with continuity. There is a lot to be excited about.

With all the pieces falling into place, this new arc could be the Doctor Strange story fans have been waiting for for years.


Have you read Doctor Strange #12?

What do you think of the current arc?


Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

Source: Marvel Comics

Blood In The Aether, the new Doctor Strange story arc, kicks off with a bang! It's Boss Rush as all of Doctor Strange's enemies descend on him at once. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo continue their epic run on Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme.

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