Doctor Strange #1 Review

Posted June 6, 2018 by Alden Diaz in Comic Books

Written By: Mark Waid

Art By: Jesus Saiz

Published By: Marvel

Let’s begin with confession time: I’m not what one would call a “Doctor Strange guy.” And what I mean is my experience with The Master of the Mystic Arts is pretty limited. I’ve loved his appearances in team books throughout the years, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing him pop in to help my personal favorite characters. And yes, I’m a fan of his Marvel Cinematic Universe interpretation, because I’m a Benedict Cumberbatch mark. Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t given Strange’s solo comic outings a chance in the past, but they haven’t grabbed me.

Well, until now.

Veteran comic book scribe Mark Waid and his partner in magic Jesus Saiz have something special on their hands here. This time, Earth, for which Strange has traditionally served as protector, is simply the starting point. Instead of the threats within the good doctor’s area of expertise, this issue begins a tale equal parts mystery and pulp sci-fi, with magic being more of a connecting thread between the two.

It is, well, strange (I had to), but I’ve got every feeling it’s going to be an exhilarating ride.

The issue opens with a few events strung together by time jumps, and I can’t help but feel they serve as a bold combination of statements by Waid. He’s telling us some things we’re not really accustomed to with this character: Stephen Strange is lost. Stephen Strange is not the expert here. Stephen Strange’s magic is not what makes him special. That, in my humble opinion, is a wonderful way to begin a story arc which, on pitch alone, seems so contrary to the tone and feel of the property’s history. Waid draws you in with pure, unadulterated Strange mysticism, but then quickly brings you crashing down to Earth. You really come to understand the depressed state Strange finds himself in, largely because of the fantastically written narration. I love the speech pattern and the ambiguity of the narration boxes in this issue. They feel heightened, distant, and otherworldly. The insights they provided are beautifully crafted. Strange and guest star Tony Stark are referred to as “the magician” and “the iron man,” a small touch which goes a long way.

Now, speaking of Mr. Stark, it’s pretty great when Marvel writers compare and contrast his world view with other heroes. It’s a trick others have used before, but it doesn’t mean it works any less. The conversation he has with Strange about “hitting bottom” was excellent. And not to make this too much about the films, but I could easily see such a scene playing well with Cumberbatch and Downey. Waid has a great voice for Strange, both during the times of supreme confidence depicted in the prologue, and in the unsure and insecure present. So far, my only true concern is that there doesn’t seem to be a supporting cast of any sort. Stark is more of a cameo to move the plot forward, so he doesn’t really count. Hopefully Waid has some great surprises in store. That said, the issue feels cinematic in its reach. It moves quickly into new environments. I’m truly excited to see what the next issue is like with Strange’s hope at an all time low, and, hopefully, the sci-fi elements cranked to eleven. I can’t wait to see what visuals are in store for us, which, of course, brings me to Jesus Saiz.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give major props to a guy who’s drawing, inking, and coloring his work. Saiz does an excellent job with this issue. He doesn’t get to do a lot of things that you’d want to see in a story like this just yet, but if the opening is any indicator then we’re in store for a really great looking ride. I love the way he drew the massive, grotesque creature at the start of the issue. I also find myself drawn to the painted quality of his backgrounds and magic effects. It’s a really nice look that invokes a classic feel, and I can’t wait to see how it’s infused with the new alien settings.

I feel this is a universally accessible story, both as a potential first comic and just as a human moment for this character. We’ve all had moments of doubt, and like with his Daredevil run, Waid is tapping into the fear of those moments. This issue has the comic book spirit of “Why not?” all over it. Put this guy in space and do something new. So, if you’re like me and you haven’t ever been a Doctor Strange reader: I encourage you to do something new as well and give this book a try.

About the Author

Alden Diaz

Alden Diaz is a WTN writer whose roots go back to the site's two predecessors. So basically he has a seat on the Council AND the rank of Master? Right? He's a geek with lots of opinions on film, comics, TV, etc., a graduate of broadcasting school, a smark, and a shameless collector of Funko Pop figures. Ask him why pigs are the best animal.