Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.
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The latest issue of Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange has hit newsstands and ComiConverse Contributor Mitch Nissen is here with the lesson in defense against the dark arts of the Empirikul.
The Search For Magic Has Begun
When we last left Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Talisman, and the rest of Marvel’s magic users they were about to be burned at the stake as witches and heretics by the science worshiping inquisitors, the Empirikul. Monako, Marvel’s golden age magician pulled their fat from the fire in exchange for his own so that Stephen, Wanda, and Elizabeth would survive to fight another day.
This last week Marvel Comics released Doctor Strange #8, the latest chapter in the new Doctor Strange epic, The Last Days of Magic.
(By The Vishanti, Mystic Spoilers Ahead)
The issue opens with Doctor Strange spelunking through a dark treacherous cavern. Stephen is feeling the lack of magic like he never has before. Where once he faced down the likes of the Dread Dormammu, the fear-lord Nightmare, and the elder god Shuma-Gorath and lived to tell about, now a mere slip from the cavern wall could claim his life.
Doctor Strange and the other magic users of the Marvel Universe have been on the run for days from the Empirikul’s wolves, scouring every junk shop, garage sale, and old treasure chest for artifacts with even the tiniest traces of magic within them. The quest for magic has led them here to a cave of wonders.
The wolves of the Empirikul have picked up Doctor Strange’s magic scent and have followed him into the cave. They descend on Doctor Strange inches away from an artifact, a magic bow and arrow. Using the bow, Stephen manages to escape with his life, regroup with the others, and hightail it to the next hidden chamber of magic.
Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, and Tim Townsend return to deliver this latest issue of Doctor Strange. Writer Jason Aaron channels some interesting essences in this issue. It seems the writer had been playing a lot of Tomb Raider when he wrote this issue or perhaps was revisiting a few Indiana Jones films. The moment you open the book it’s as if you’ve started playing a level out of the latest Lara Croft video game, sneaking around old ruins, battling scary wolves, firing a bow and arrow and all.
Then we get out of the cave and the mood shifts to an episode of the television series Supernatural. Doctor Strange tells us that Iron Man or any other super hero that isn’t magic is essentially useless. They’re on their own. They’ve even collected a small arsenal of magic weapons in the trunk of a car and have been road tripping around the world in search of magic.
Saving magic. Hunting things. The family business.
It’s cool. It’s fresh. If you’ve been hitting the Doctor Strange back issues with a vengeance this new story is refreshing and different. If you’re new to the world of Doctor Strange and this story is all you’ve ever read of the good doctor then be forewarned: Doctor Strange isn’t usually like this. He’s not like Lara Croft. He’s not like Sam and Dean Winchester. He’s not like Harry Potter. He’s like no other. He’s a character unto his own. Which is why what Jason Aaron is doing is wonderful.
Jason Aaron is taking Doctor Strange to places he has never been before.
Doctor Strange has never been like this. He’s been at his wits end before. He’s been stripped of the powers of Cyttorak, Watoomb, and the Vishanti. But he’s never been as reduced as he is here. Remember those magic eating slugs from issue 3? Doctor Strange has one on a leash and is using it as a magic magnet to find the artifacts. It’s as if Jason Aaron planned it that way all along.
This is the kind of writer one wants on a book. Someone who knows the characters, can work within the continuity, and create something new and exciting. And the references! Oh the references. We see John Blaze’s Hellfire Shotgun return! The Serpent Crown, one of Marvel’s greatest mcguffins, gets a name drop along with the Breathing Gun (a little fan-service for us Hellstorm lovers).
I’m still waiting for Sleepwalker and a gang of Ghost Riders to march against the Empirikul, warp gaze, hellfire, chains and all.
Chris Bachalo once again delivers a feast for the eyes. His art has been consistent and wonderful throughout these eight issues. There are moments here where he seems to give readers a little too much. There were moments in this issue where it was difficult to discern what exactly was being displayed on the page. With scenes occurring in different dimensions such sights are welcomed. Here however the scene was inside a cave on Earth. This was the case with a few panels in this issue.
Even so, Chris Bachalo brings images to the table that no other artist could.
And then there is the foreboding epilogue marking terrifying developments on the horizon. A tantalizing little morsel from Aaron and Bachalo and a promise of excitement to come in the following issues.
Issue #8 of Doctor Strange is a definite change of pace and something new and different for characters over 50 years old. Jason Aaron delivers a story with a modern adventure feeling for new readers and a few references to what’s come before to wet the appetites of long time fans. All this and crazy and beautiful imagery from Chris Bachalo. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Be sure to check back next month as I review Doctor Strange #9 and every Doctor Strange issue afterwards.
And remember… keep it Strange.
Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche.
Doctor Strange: Tomb Raider. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo take the good doctor to places he’s never been before evoking feelings of Lara Croft and Sam and Dead Winchester. Another fun issue in the latest saga of the Sorcerer Supreme.