Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo
I’ll be honest, I’ve been out of the comics loop for quite some time now. It’s one of the reasons I appreciated the ANAD movement; I was curious to see how they would re-introduce all of the characters, and how easy it would be to relive my initial attraction to the Marvel universe. That being said, not only was Doctor Strange one of the most easy-to-jump-into reads, but I think it also goes without saying that the artwork and the story in this series is phenomenal.
I hadn’t even heard of Chris Bachalo before reading this series, but I must say, he and Jason Aaron work very well together. When I first opened up issue #1, my impression was of a cool, oddly mesmerizing version of Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Beetlejuice-meets-Diablo. There are so many eye-catching picture-in-picture styled layouts, which isn’t something I remember seeing in too many comics that I read when I was younger. The artwork was so original to me — each page had so much to look at. I think the separation of the two realms (magic and ordinary) is a genius addition, because it allows the styles to switch back and forth so often.
The color scheme is always changing, and the subtle black-and-white elements add a whole different feel to the read. There is just so much to see, including mesmerizing full page layouts, stacked with scrapbook-like layers of sub-pictures. The fact that there are so many different places to which Doctor Strange can travel, gives every issue a new feel and a new environment to soak in. There are underwater scenes, jungle scenes, explosion scenes, you name it.
Another thing I’m enjoying is Doctor Strange as a character. I know I said I knew very little about the modern Marvel universe, but, from what I do remember, all I’ve ever seen Doctor Strange do, was float in the background and say some weird, mysterious one-liner. I always knew he was crazy powerful, but since I didn’t read his other comics, I didn’t even know what his deal was. He’s kickass. He’s got all sorts of jokes and a playful narrative that adds to the wild, colorful action. His numerous internal problems and the repercussions of wielding magic give him a sense of mortality, which I feel gives another reason to enjoy him as a hero.
This series doesn’t have a huge fast-paced intro that involves a dozen other Marvel heroes and two interjecting subplots needing to be analyzed, like many of these other ANAD comics. It is new; it is fresh. One could simply see this as a story about a magical man, solving strange problems in the neighborhood. What’s not to love? As for the arc, who’s this guy who keeps trying to ruin his day? I like that he seems to be a villain who isn’t connected to other plots in the Marvel Universe. Looks like Strange gets this one to himself. And what’s to come of his health issues? Very excited to continue this title.
First collection: Doctor Strange, Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird (May)