Blame it on the Time Gem, that re-imagining of Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto for the MCU, warping temporal conventions and mortal publishing schedules. This week’s Doctor Strange #20, the culmination of Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s brilliant run on the book, comes a week after issue #21. Weird, yeah? One might say strange, even. Or maybe Marvel was just really eager to get the first issue from the new creative team on the stands for its Secret Empire tie-in. The real reason for the twisted release schedule, however, can be found in the afterword of this week’s book: “Why, you ask, is issue #21 already on sale? DO NOT BLAME KADAVUS! Blame the incompetent editor whose buffoonery has put him on the edge of infinite torment!” Well, sure. It’s well-established that comic book editors are all buffoons, so I’m sure a slight delay on an oversized book brimming with mind-bending Bachalo splash pages and interior art from the legendary Kevin Nowlan can fall squarely on that moron’s shoulders.
And we’ll excuse it. Because, truly, none of us really wanted to see this creative team bid farewell. We typically spotlight series or storyline premieres in these weekly New Comics posts, but this time we’re making an exception. Since Aaron and Bachalo first introduced us to this new axe-swinging Stephen Strange in the opening week of the All-New All-Different initiative, Doctor Strange has been one of the most exciting and visually gratifying superhero books on the shelf. This new issue even brings back that “sexy incorporeal asian succubus” that had a little something to do with the book’s high finish in our ANAD rankings.
Continue reading Aaron & Bachalo’s Doctor Strange
No surprise, with Marvel’s latest Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for wide release on November 4, that we’re getting a double dose of the good doctor this year. Not since the Defenders days of the 70’s and 80’s has Doctor Strange featured simultaneously in multiple ongoing titles. Doctor Strange and The Sorcerers Supreme #1, by Robbie Thompson and Javier Rodriguez, hits shelves for week 4 of Marvel’s latest NOW! initiative, which gives us one more reason to thank Marvel Studios for making the Master of the Mystic Arts pop-culturally relevant. Unlike Aaron & Bachalo’s outstanding Doctor Strange series, however, or even any of the iterations of The Defenders over the years, this book looks to pull the focus away from Stephen Strange while emphasizing a fun new magical ensemble.
The story picks up after the events of The Last Days of Magic with Strange still trying to recover what magical energy he can in our universe. Merlin, of Arthurian lore, and no stranger to the Marvel universe, assembles a super-team of super-sorcerers to combat an entity known as The Forgotten, which was purportedly unleashed on the past during Strange’s battle with the Empirikul. It’s like a Web Warriors for the mystical set, except with more flowy capes and fewer anthropomorphic pigs. Suiting up for action is a Wiccan from a future in which he is Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme; a Sir Isaac Newton from a reality in which he commands a “Mindful One” (a creature that looks a lot like Dread Dormammu’s Mindless Ones); a brash, younger version of The Ancient One; and two new characters: Kushala, the Demon Rider, and a mysterious pistol-wielding, swashbuckling woman known only as “The Conjuror.”
Despite some solid building blocks in Strange’s main title and Scarlet Witch, three other failed attempts at cultivating an enchanted corner of the Marvel universe (Weirdworld was pretty good; Howling Commandos was not; Black Knight was just awful), have only hurt property values. But Thompson’s premise and team are encouraging. Moreover, what elevates Sorcerers above classic magician vs. monster fare is the art of Javier Rodriguez. Fresh off his great run on the ANAD Spider-Woman, Rodriquez gets to trade in the sci-fi for fantasy, adding beasties next to aliens in his creature portfolio. The design of the Forgotten’s cultists is particularly devilish. And the double-splash of Merlin guiding Strange on a temporal journey to the principal battlefield is a gorgeous piece of Jim Starlin-meets-Brendan McCarthy artistry that is worth the entire price of admission.
Continue reading Marvel NOW! – Week 4
Somewhat overlooked amidst Marvel’s Civil War II blitz and impending Marvel NOW! initiative is the new Doctor Strange, emerging from Aaron and Bachalo’s recent arc as one of the most promising and exciting takes on the character in decades. Obviously we have the new movie to thank for Marvel’s attention, but this rejuvenated Sorcerer Supreme was long overdue regardless. This week’s Doctor Strange #11 serves as an interlude between last month’s conclusion to “The Last Days of Magic” and next month’s multi-title NOW launch. This is no mere filler issue, however, as Jason Aaron formerly introduces us to the new status quo in Marvel’s magical universe. And, in no uncertain terms, the “new face of magic.”
Leonardo Romero provides the art for the present day sequences: a composed, almost minimal counterpoint to the frenetic, hyperactive aesthetic realized by Chris Bachalo, back before Strange & Co. fought off The Empirikul and pushed the reset button on our universe’s magical hard drive. Aaron, like Jonathan Hickman before him, is a Bond villain of the Marvel Universe, successfully razing the world in order to let it grow anew. Unlike Hickman, however, Aaron is still in the driver’s seat, and seems to have big plans for the good Doctor, along with all of his magical friends.
Continue reading All New All Different Marvel – Week 49
Marvel’s latest series relaunch is its most ambitious to date, with up to sixty new titles debuting this winter. Unlike similar events in the past, whether it was Heroes Reborn whose issue re-numbering eventually defaulted and resulted in schizophrenic dual-numbered issues, or the more recent Marvel NOW! which seemed to target properties that were developing their own cinema-inspired identities, this year’s All New All Different Marvel bears a few significant differences.
For one, the name is pretty dumb. It doesn’t have the snap of DC’s “New 52” or even the brevity of “Marvel NOW,” but maybe the cumbersome label makes it easier to shed, months down the road, when this new universe has been established as the new normal. Which brings up the second key difference: this time, the relaunch is universal. In the wake of the latest Secret Wars event, bits and pieces of various Marvel realities – some that we are familiar with and some of which are brand new – are coming together to form this new universe. All of the groups are affected: the X-Men books, the Spider-books, and, of course, the Avengers titles.
As we did with the 52 series that comprised DC’s relaunch, a dedicated team of Idle Timers will be reading the first issue of every series under the All New All Marvel banner. We’ll then rank them from worst to best, and share insight from both long-time comics fans and neophytes. Sometimes the best feedback, for a venture designed to hook new readers, comes from folks coming in cold. MH hadn’t even ever heard of Doctor Strange, if you can believe it. Continue reading All New All Different Marvel – Week 1