Review: Doctor Strange #5

February 25th, 2016 | by Mitch Nissen
Review: Doctor Strange #5

Reviewed by:
On February 25, 2016
Last modified:February 25, 2016


All the layers of the story come together in an exciting conclusion to the first story arc. The mythology is expanded and we have the first hints of Doctor Strange's old rogues. Striking images accompany this fantastic story of gut retching, eye-bleeding sorcery.

The world of magic is coming to an end. If magic dies, so too dies the world and only Doctor Strange can stop it. Comiconverse’s own Mitch Nissen is here with the scoop on the latest issue of Doctor Strange!

Strangers in a Doctor Strange land, welcome once more to the world of monsters and magic!


This month Marvel Comics released issue #5 of the latest volume of Doctor Strange. Writer Jason Aaron and artists Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend conclude the first story arc in what’s shaping up to be a striking and exciting new series.

The Story So Far…

The heretic burning, magic hunting Empirikul have been traveling across the various dimensions laying waste to the worlds of magic and those who practice sorcery. They’ve eliminated all traces of magic from everywhere but our own dimension using some mysterious technology. They’ve now seen Doctor Strange and are coming for him.

All the various creatures upon the mystical plains of existence are fleeing the upcoming purge, leaving a wake of destruction through our own dimension. Doctor Strange is trying to help them as best he can while repairing the damage the creatures have caused. But his magic is failing him. There is a price for using magic, a physical toll taken upon the user. The price of using magic is growing higher for The Sorcerer Supreme.

Stephen’s body is being pushed to the breaking point. It’s only a matter of time before he gives out.

The question is which will give out first, Stephen or magic itself?

Story continues below

When either happens, who will stop the Empirikul?


A few years ago Doctor Strange cast a powerful spell utilizing Atlantean black magic. The price of the spell ravaged his body. Wong, Doctor Strange’s longtime friend and caretaker, was watching Stephen die before his very eyes. The next morning Doctor Strange awoke feeling revitalized, his body whole. He didn’t know how or why he was healed and didn’t question his good fortune.


Credit: Marvel Comics

Today the Empirikul have breached our dimension, their monstrous machines attacking Earth’s magic sources. All of Earth’s magic defenders are helpless against them, all except the sorcerer supreme. Doctor Strange’s spells fail however leaving him with only one spell left to call upon, the spell that nearly killed him the last time he used it.

Doctor Strange risks it all and calls upon the Atlantean black magic once more.

But who is paying the price for the magic?


Wow. This issue delivers the goods in spades!

With the exception of issue one all the issues have been fairly quick reads exploring one or two topics at best while subtly mentioning other important concepts and ideas. Writer Jason Aaron examines these topics in the following issues, building upon the story in a very natural way. Issue two was about the Sanctum Sanctorum. Issue three Doc finally sees the devastation of an Empirikul attack. Issue four the price of using magic is clearly laid out and the alarm is sounded.

Issue five brings everything together. Two aspects of the story in particular stand out. One is a quick simple sentence near the beginning. Doctor Strange explains why he had to use the Atlantean black magic the first time, to stop Dormammu. Aaron leaves it alone afterwards but the implications run deep. First off Aaron name drops Dormammu, Doctor Strange’s greatest enemy. Second, Strange needed to use the Atlantean black magic to stop him meaning Dormammu is at least as powerful as the Empirikul. In one simple sentence Jason Aaron let us know that the Doc’s worst enemy exists in this new continuity as well as establishing the threat of the Empirikul as Dormammu level bad. Awesome.

Story continues below

The next part of the story that could have massive ramifications involves the character of Wong. Longtime readers of Doctor Strange will be intimately familiar with Wong. The character has been at Stephen’s side longer than anyone, serving mainly in a butler-like capacity. In this one issue Wong goes from being merely a fixture in Doctor Strange’s sanctum sanctorum to the sole reason why the doctor is still alive. Unbeknownst to Stephen, Wong has established a monastery deep in the Himalayas populated with monks acting as proxy for the doctor and paying the price for his magic use.

This invention is amazing. Using Wong like this greatly expands his character giving him far more weight and meaning to the story. It could also fit perfectly with all of Doctor Strange’s original continuity, all the way back to the first story in 1963.

On a personal note, as a fan of Doctor Strange I am so geeking out about this issue! And that’s not even including the Empirikul (which was great too)!

Chris Bachalo’s pencils and colors are top notch too. In issue four he opened with a black and white sequence which was haunting and gorgeous. He continues that same black and white style at the beginning of this issue. The panels with Doctor Strange bleeding black magic from his eyes are particularly well done. The monochromatic sections are proving every bit as beautiful as the color portions.


Credit: Marvel Comics

Bachalo is proving to be a great fit for the book. It will be interesting to see his renditions of classic characters like Clea, Dormammu, Baron Mordo, and Nightmare when (fingers crossed) these characters appear.


The first story arc of the new Doctor Strange book concludes but it is only a prelude to an even larger story looming on the horizon. The book is shaping up pretty good. They’re fairly fast reads but the way Jason Aaron layers the story it doesn’t feel like one has wasted their money. Chris Bachalo is bringing new depths to the art too, especially with his black and whites. Hopefully the two men haven’t used up all their tricks just yet as it appears the story of the Empirikul is just getting started.

As of the first five issues this is an outstanding book!

We will be covering every issue of Doctor Strange from here on out so be sure check out each review as they come.

Drop us a line too in the comments and let us know what your feelings are on sorcerer supreme!

And as always may the blessid Vishanti be with you.


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

Review: Doctor Strange #5
  • 5


All the layers of the story come together in an exciting conclusion to the first story arc. The mythology is expanded and we have the first hints of Doctor Strange's old rogues. Striking images accompany this fantastic story of gut retching, eye-bleeding sorcery.

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