This week I am talking about a new book from Marvel Studios. It’s one of the first post Secret Wars books to start, which is fitting considering what happened t this character in the series. It’s Doctor Strange #1, “The Way of the Weird,” by Jason Aaron with art by Chris Bachalo.
The issue’s first page encapsulated everything I really ever want in the first page of a relaunch. It covers all of Doctor Strange’s origin story is a single page — literally 12 boxes of text over a series of panels from his previous appearances. It’s a great way to introduce someone to the character. It is short, concise, and the way a book like this should start. It’s enough to educate yet not enough to bore. Well done, Jason Aaron.
The rest of the book is about Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme saving a boy’s soul, going to a bar for magicians and unleashing a hoard of little red demons into his house. The book’s first part is your typical Doctor Strange story. It isn’t the first time he’s saved a life from a tribe of wandering soul eaters, but it’s the ending of that section that makes it so good. Our good doctor points the soul eaters in the direction of a prison full of child killers and tells them to eat to their hearts content… it’s a dark and sudden peek into his mind, and something really only Jason Aaron could make work. This sudden brutality is a stark deviation in the tone of the first story. It’s a sudden shift but in the best possible way.
Soon we find out Stephen is late for a meeting with other wizards. He makes it to the meeting and gets into a confrontation with Monako, the Prince of Magic. Their confrontation focuses on what Monako thinks is the price of magic. We find out that magic in this world has a cost, one that is never talked about before and can be dark. Strange replies with what he has paid and what he continues to pay. Once again it’s dark and shows us a tortured side of this man that we don’t see very often. The book ends with Strange talking to a young woman, who needs help, and events happen that set up the next issues. That part is kind of forgettable.
It’s no secret that I am a huge Constantine: Hellblazer fan. One of the reasons I love it is the fact that it’s a magic book where magic is rarely used. It’s used sparingly because there is a high cost for using it. I feel like this world has similar rules and these magic users are people who sacrifice willingly to use the magic they do. It’s a different mindset and it’s one I like to see. In many ways these people are stronger and more evil then Constantine ever would be. Jason Aaron has written these mystic Marvel characters in a new way, one that hearkens to the reason I love Jason Aaron’s work. He makes me see old favorites in new ways, ones that make me see them as more human than ever before.
The art took a little getting used to. I didn’t really care for it when I first started the issue but by the end I found it’s cartoonish, quirky nature to really help add weight to these sudden dark moments. It feels like a Marvel comic… then suddenly a line of dialogue is dark and real and the face you are looking at is cartoony and you are caught off-guard. It’s fantastic.
This book is 5 out of 5 and makes me hopeful for the new Marvel Universe.