Here is one from the vaults; out of print for several years now, this one took more than a little effort to find both in decent condition and for a reasonable price. EBay and Amazon were only too quick to want to change $30+, and that is just too much for anything but the most special of books. I eventually found this at Graham Cracker’s Comics in Chicago. This was part of their online site, and since they were going to be at C2E2, I called and asked if they could pull and bring it for me to pick up there. They were very helpful and the book was cover price.
I had not read this one or much Dr Strange really, as I was never a fan. I have tried a few times and just never gotten interested. When I saw this and another one (Doctor Strange the Dr is Out by Mark Waid, which I will review as soon as it arrives) my interest was sparked. This volume collects all 5 issues of the limited series and a 4 page teaser for the series. Originally released in 2006, this series by Brian K Vaughn (Ex Machina and Y the Last Man) and Marcos Martin (Daredevil) never really found the audience it deserved, and after being collected, was quickly allowed to go OOP. That is a shame really, as this was a decent book. It is by no means Vaughn’s best work, and I would call it a light entertainment at best, but at cover price and as an intro to the characters, it works very well.
The book deals with Strange’s efforts to find the person that shot him and stole a mysterious elixir that he himself stole to cure his disciple Wong of his cancer. Aided by The Night Nurse (an answer to where all the street level Marvel heroes go for medical attention) he finds the answers and some small bits of adventure over the run of the story. The real point of this book seemed to me to reset things for new readers, but it succeeds at that and tells a decent, if predictable story. Vaughn has never been that strong with short form, his real strength being in slowly developing plots and characters, but this does work fairly well.
The art by Marcos Martin is not as strong as his current work on Daredevil, but that is to be expected. This series was several years ago and Martin’s work has grown and changed a great deal in that time. The color palette is muted and that seemed a bit odd to me. The magical themes in Dr Strange books would lend themselves to very strong colors when magic is being employed, but the opposite approach is being taken here. A printing cost issue maybe? Martins art is not the crazy detailed art that some of the Marvel artists use, so the color may be a reflection of that, but I think some more vibrant color would have worked well here.
As a starter for someone wanting to look into Doctor Strange, this works well, but to a seasoned fan this series might be a bit on the light side. I will post a review of the other book once I have gotten it and we can compare the two.
It has been nearly 30 years since I genuinely liked Daredevil. As a book or as a character. Everyone since Frank Miller has either tried to be just like him, be the exact opposite of him or outdo him. None of the writers seem to have wanted to tell a great story as the first priority. Some managed to tell good stories, but upon reading them initially, I was always struck by “event-itis”, that need to shake things up. This need has seemed to be more important than just making the book good. Then the need to essentially rape the character seemed to rule the day. Destroy Matt Murdock in every way possible. Miller always liked the idea that Daredevil was one of the more flawed people in a costume at Marvel, but he never went as far as some of the writers that followed him. By the start of the 2000’s, he was unrecognizable as the Matt Murdock I remembered, more so even that many other Marvel heroes that went through the mill in the 1990’s. There were bright spots, but never more than a few short arcs. This is not to say these were bad comics, they just weren’t really Daredevil comics. Many of the arcs were quite good, but the guy in the red outfit was just some guy. The heart of the character was gone, at least as I knew it. The need to tear him down stripped away everything that made him work for me.
Now Mark Waid is on the book. I was very skeptical at first. I have really enjoyed Waid’s work, particularly in the last decade or so, but I really didn’t think that anyone could save this character or the book believably. At some point the damage is just too great. Was this going to be a hard reboot, ignoring all that had come before? Would he have to spend the entire first arc unraveling the previous mess? There is reference to the mess that was Matt’s life previously. The really stupid Shadowland events are mentioned. The outing of the secret identity is handled beautifully. Done like more of a tabloid story or internet rumor, and it works very well. In all, the past is mentioned and handled as though the crisis was over but not forgotten. Like a recovering alcoholic might always have to live with his past, but keep moving forward one day after another as though each day is the most important day so far.
Marvel re-launched the book with a new number one and gave him world class artist Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera to play with him in the sandbox. This book is beautiful. It handles the difficult angles and vertiginous shots of Daredevil above the city’s rooftops as stunningly as I have ever seen. The trickier villains’ powers are done with a visual style that is amazingly clever. Dealing with how Daredevil “sees” the world was something Miller and Mazzucchelli always handled well; here it has been taken to another level. The villain The Spot is a really creepy idea in concept and a fairly stupid idea in actual execution depending on who is doing it. The visual here for the Spot is done so well, the only word I can think of is trippy. There are the prerequisite “blind guy in the streets” scenes that are done with a nice flair that actually keeps the flow of the story.
This is the best book Marvel is doing right now and easily one of the best books in the field regardless of company. The first collection (issues 1-6) is out now with the second arc due to be collected in June. If you have ever liked Daredevil, this book is wonderful. If you are like me, and have not cared much for anything about him in the last quarter of a century, this book brings back the hero that you have missed all these years. Like Hickman’s FF, this is the book I have been wanting since the last time I loved these guys.
Filed under Comics, reviews