Review: Doctor Strange: Damnation #3

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
March 29th, 2018

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.

Review: Doctor Strange: Damnation #3
Comics
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Price:
Getting Better and Better

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On March 29, 2018
Last modified:March 29, 2018

Summary:

Doctor Strange: Damnation is proving to be a better read with each subsequent issue. Donny Cates and Nick Spencer are writing an unbelievably entertaining book. If anything holds the series back it is a lack of bold, visually pleasing artwork. Unless you’re not a shallow comic art fan like myself, the artwork (while good nonetheless) will likely not be the major draw here.

Price:
Getting Better and Better

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On March 29, 2018
Last modified:March 29, 2018

Summary:

Doctor Strange: Damnation is proving to be a better read with each subsequent issue. Donny Cates and Nick Spencer are writing an unbelievably entertaining book. If anything holds the series back it is a lack of bold, visually pleasing artwork. Unless you’re not a shallow comic art fan like myself, the artwork (while good nonetheless) will likely not be the major draw here.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Doctor Strange: Damnation #3 ramps up the action and the stakes as the Midnight Sons take the battle to Mephisto’s door. The supernatural heroes are given the rare chance to save the world again in this latest event book from Marvel Comics. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.

Review: Doctor Strange: Damnation #3

The current Marvel Comics event lighting fires across the Marvel universe is none other than Doctor Strange: Damnation. In a rare exhibition from the big publisher, underutilized and underappreciated characters such as Elsa Bloodstone, Man-Thing, Blade, Brother Voodoo, and others lead the charge.

Three of the four issues of Doctor Strange: Damnation have now been released along with several tie-in issues. While plenty more tie-in issues are coming only one issue of the event book remains.

Will Doctor Strange: Damnation be the smash hit that puts these seldom used characters back on the map? Or will this book go down as merely a strange curiosity of this era of comics?

Synopsis

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Wong is locked in battle against a soulless demonic Dr. Strange. Wong has only moments before Stephen’s magic kills him. Meanwhile the ragtag band of "Midnight Sons" fights for their lives against demon possessed Avengers. As the battle for the Midnight Sons grows steeper by the second, Ghost Rider makes a break for Mephisto himself. Johnny Blaze stares the devil in the eyes with the souls of everyone on Earth hanging in the balance.

The Breakdown

Writers Nick Spencer and Donny Cates have woven a fun, exciting, and surprising narrative for each of the three issues of Damnation thus far. And issue #3 may be the duo’s best script yet.

Spencer and Cates pit the heroes against overwhelming odds and manage to supply some truly unexpected and inspired solutions. There are several fun character interactions and great one liners. And the writers end the issue with one helluva cliffhanger. What these two Marvel scribes are doing is among the most entertaining and inventive work on the market.

It almost makes you gloss over what they’re not doing.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The book features a huge cast of protagonists. As a reader you hope for every character to be utilized to the fullest, stealing the scenes they’re in, and functioning with a purpose. Sadly most of the heroes in this book are either interchangeable with one another or merely window dressing.

Moon Knight is nothing but comic relief. Blade is sidelined for what looks to be half the event (that’s counting issue #1 where he has a cameo only). Else Bloodstone has a few good one-liners but beyond that nothing else. And Man-Thing and Brother Voodoo have so far done nothing save casting useless spells and secreting anesthetics. Scarlet Spider and Iron Fist at least have their own tie-in books to amount to something.

Blade has an epic moment in the middle of this issue, complete with some quality dialog. Ghost Rider almost disappears in the midst of six other fiery skulled characters. Were it not for his focus in the endcaps of this issue he may have been lost altogether.

Despite this Cates and Spencer are writing a great book. Yet the book doesn’t do much to service the characters it purports to elevate i.e. the Midnight Sons.

Story continues below

On a side note, the last Marvel book to mention the Midnight Sons (or rather the Children of Midnight) was in the 2015 volume of Carnage by Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins. It would’ve been nice to see Marvel exercise a little continuity here with an appearance by Victoria Montesi.

Likewise, Blade and Ghost Rider were recently seen teamed with Daimon Hellstrom and Satana in Spirits of Vengeance. Daimon and Satana seem like a perfect fit for this book and it would’ve been an easy stitch connecting Spirits of Vengeance here, thus establishing greater connectivity.

Yes, it is a little detail and seemingly unimportant to some. However such connective tissue would’ve expanded the scope of the story. It would've also demonstrate to the reader that these characters are more than merely a casual diversions between issues of Avengers and X-Men.

The Art

If Doctor Strange: Damnation has an Achilles’ heel it would be the artwork by Szymon Kudranski. Kudranski has provided interior art for both issues two and three, Rod Reis supplying interiors for issues one and four.

Kudranski provides some great visuals as well as several standout moments. What the art lacks is a broad appeal typical of such event books. The kind of artwork one sees from Mike Deodato Jr., David Marquez, Leinil Yu, Steve McNiven, and so forth. Kudranski’s work is unique and highly stylzed, much like the caliber of art Marvel employs on many of its monthly titles.

Credit: Marvel Comics

In the case of Doctor Strange: Damnation, the tie-in books are showcasing more visually pleasing artwork than the event book itself. While Szymon Kudranski’s talent is far greater than mine ever will be, it is unlikely to draw in readers outside of the dedicated fanbase.

Comics are a visual medium. You can have a story written to perfection, but if the artwork isn’t there it is unlikely the book will gain much traction. This, I fear, will be the case for Doctor Strange: Damnation.

Marvel needs at least one book entirely horror/supernatural centric (the Doctor Strange monthly doesn’t count) if they hope to start rebuilding that corner of their universe. A book with strong writing and strong art, preferably someone who can draw a mean fiery skull. If a Midnight Sons book doesn’t result from this it will be a terrible shame, but not altogether surprising.

What did you think?

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

Doctor Strange: Damnation #3

  • 4

Getting Better and Better

Doctor Strange: Damnation is proving to be a better read with each subsequent issue. Donny Cates and Nick Spencer are writing an unbelievably entertaining book. If anything holds the series back it is a lack of bold, visually pleasing artwork. Unless you’re not a shallow comic art fan like myself, the artwork (while good nonetheless) will likely not be the major draw here.

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