Marvel Comics 2010
cover price $15
I really don’t like negative reviews, but there is really no way to sugar coat this and I said I’d review it when I finished it. This was not a great book. Sorry, it just was not an enjoyable read. There is a lot here that started to be good, but just as each chapter got interesting, someone pulls the rug out from under the story.
Doctor Strange is like Daredevil in one very important way. Every writer given a chance to write the book has a wildly different interpretation from every other writer that has written the book. Many writers have tried to put a unique stamp on both characters, and some even succeed. On Daredevil there was Frank Miller and Bendis and not very many others. Mark Waid is writing the best Daredevil arc in 25 years and he wrote this version of Doctor Strange. As the mighty Catfish Hunter said when asked why he was never able to duplicate his perfect game a second time, “the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time”. Waid is one of the best and most consistent writers in the industry, but even he can’t be great every time. This book, like so many others about Marvel’s second string heroes, just never finds itself. The character has never had a strong writer on the title for very long, and he continues to be plagued by stories that try to reinvent, redefine or reboot him. The second stringers never really just have good stories. There is an ongoing attempt to revitalize or change them. It fails here, or rather the attempt to tell a good story within the current continuity fails here.
Waid has a very good premise and a strong first chapter (the book reprints the Limited Series Strange 1-4) but gets lost very quickly. The story feels very much like an attempt to create the basis for another ongoing series for Doctor Strange, and as a result never really is a good book in its own right. The art is another issue. I have nothing against Emma Rois, but I will say for the record, that I do not like Manga or even fake Manga. The very nature of the form means that only the very best can do it well, and when you are just aping a style as here, it rarely works. There are some really great artists doing Manga influenced stuff, Amy Reeder comes screaming to mind, and Rios has done some very nice work, this just is not one of those. The art is very hard to follow at times, and is very often off model. The characters do not always look like themselves, and more often than not they look far too young, a style of Manga, I know, just not appropriate here. Colors are rich and vibrant, but the art seems better suited to a black & white presentation. I would love to see the uncolored original art.
I just cannot recommend this book. It is sometimes close to being interesting, but it just misses the mark. Combine that with a highly unsatisfying ending (the thought that there may have been more of a continuing series planned here came back to me) and this book is worth a look to only the most die-hard completest or devoted Doctor Strange fan.