Strange’s Got a Brand New Bag in Doctor Strange #5

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
September 28th, 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.

Strange’s Got a Brand New Bag in Doctor Strange #5
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The latest story arc for Marvel’s master of the mystic arts came to a close with this last week’s Doctor Strange #5. The excellent doctor finishes his turn guarding the galaxy thanks to Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.

Review: Doctor Strange #5

After a brief run on Doctor Strange by writer Donny Cates and a host of artists, Doctor Strange has relaunched this last June with industry pro-Mark Waid writing and Jesus Saiz on art detail.

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Under Waid’s guidance, the Sorcerer Supreme was taken into outer space where he encountered different kinds of magic and discovered new ways to wield magic.

Synopsis:

Under the tutelage of Eoffren, a Nidavellirian weapons forger, Stephen Strange has learned to harness new magic and infuse weapons and artefacts with magic. Meanwhile, Stephen’s friend, Kanna, is forced into service by the evil alien, Fox nor. Fashioning a super gun for him, Kanna transmits a distress call to Stephen: The new weapon is ready. And Roxnor is heading to Earth to test it.

The Breakdown:

SPOILERS AHEAD

Mark Waid began his run on Doctor Strange by reducing the character down to nothing, in effect rendering Stephen Strange a normal human being. Strange lost his connection to magic. Tony Stark directs Stephen to space because, well, why not? Everybody else in the Marvel universe has done it in recent history.

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Stephen rediscovers magic through Eoffren, a dwarf who forges magic weapons. Introducing the ability to reproduce magical weapons and artefacts was a stroke of brilliance by Waid. And a real head-scratcher as to why this concept hasn’t been a part of the Doctor Strange story before? Especially when every fantasy novel or fantasy video game contains this concept. Even fellow Marvel heroes Thor and Iron Man have done such things in the past.

This final issue in the story arc displays Dr Strange back on top, thoroughly schooling the despicable Roxnor. Strange uses his magic scalpel/sword to carve a magic shield in the shape of the Anomaly Rue around Earth (a move which lends a little synchronicity between the comics and MCU films).

Credit: Marvel Comics

The Art

Perhaps the boldest aspect of this book has been the artwork by Jesus Saiz, From issue #1 to #5 the artwork has been nothing short of spectacular. The style employed by Saiz is breathtaking realism, each figure looking as if they were carved out of marble by some Greek sculptor, idealized and refined. The details are sharp, and the colours appear beautifully rendered as if painted.

Striking imagery abounds within these first five issues, from the grotesque monster at the beginning of issue #1 to the glowing Anomaly Rue surrounding Earth. Marvel needs to do all they can to keep Jesus Saiz happy and on their team.

What Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz have done in issue #5 is provided with a solid ending to a beautifully rendered arc. Within the context of only these five issues, the story is well written, well paced, and delivers a satisfying conclusion. The story in this respect is fantastic.

As a long time reader of Doctor Strange, I have a few observations:

  • This is the third time in recent history that Dr Strange has been depowered.
  • This is the third volume in a row where the opening story arc sees Stephen Strange lose his powers.
  • There is still no acknowledgement of the classic mythos, i.e. everything that came before Jason Aaron’s run. Whether those first 50 years of Dr Strange stories are canon is suspect.
  • This is the second time a writer after Jason Aaron has crafted a story to avoid dealing with Jason Aaron’s newly established set of rules for the character, specifically magic at a cost.
  • All of Super Skrull’s character development over the last twelve years appeared disregarded entirely.

Credit: Marvel Comics

With the revelation at the end of this issue that there exists two different Dr. Stephen Stranges, perhaps Waid is beginning to undertake the task of answering some of these questions. As of this moment I have no idea where Waid will be taking the story from here. I am intrigued though.

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The last few years of Doctor Strange comics have been both enjoyable and frustrating. It’s excellent that Doctor Strange has an ongoing series again and that sales have remained strong enough that the book is now entering its fourth consecutive year of uninterrupted publication. After his solo book having been dead for so long, this is a truly joyous occasion for Doctor Strange fans.

But after repeating the “no more powers” story three times in recent history (not to mention the few times it was done in the distant past), treating Dormammu, Nightmare, and other classic Dr Strange rogues like they were mere punchlines, and just grossly dismantling everything that was Dr Strange…

Do I have to ask if Marvel themselves are happy about Doctor Strange’s return to prominence? Because it seems as if they’re going out of their way not to write Doctor Strange while writing Doctor Strange.

What did you think?

Drop us a comment below

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

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