Doctor Strange #10 Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Chris Bachalo Colors: Chris Bachalo & Rain Beredo Letters: Cory Petit Publisher: Marvel
The Marvel business model at the moment is obsessed with re-launches and the fixation on releasing new #1’s on the racks to boost sales. Every time DC seems to be edging them out on the top 10 charts, they react with an event with an endless amount of tie-ins, and readers are understandably becoming tired and frustrated of the current climate. With each event there is the promise of a shake-up in the status-quo that goes unfulfilled. From 2008’s Secret Invasion, that came with the tagline “embrace change”, to the recent Secret Wars(2015) where we got the All New All Different imprint.
Problem is that the vast, vast, vast majority was neither different or new. It was essentially the same characters, titles, creative teams, and stories that were continued on prior to the tedious event that devised it. Thankfully though there are a few new series that have been stellar since its launch and will not be cancelled with the Marvel NOW(2016) imprint. One of them being Jason Aaron’s and Chris Bachalo’s Doctor Strange.
From a business point of view, a new Doctor Strange series makes financial sense, given its upcoming movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch. But all that marketing stigma can be overlooked if the creative team execute some top-notch stories with compelling characters and themes, and boy have they delivered.
Magic is under threat from a cult of science worshipers called the Empirikul. Their biggest opposition is Doctor Steven Strange and he makes his final stand against them in the conclusion of “The Last Days of Magic”. Their leader, the Imperator, has some vendetta motives that have been revealed in issues prior. After several skirmishes, the Marvel Universe magic users are on the down-and-out but they have regrouped and decided to throw everything they have at the Empirikul, who are currently at Strange’s home. While Strange faces the Imperator, his magical peers battle his soldiers, the Inquisitors. All this leads to a war of epic proportions where the fate of magic hangs in the balance.
This issue fortunately doesn’t disappoint, as writer Jason Aaron has been setting up this arc from its debut issue. All the characters that were effected by the Empirikul have a satisfying closing arc here. From Scarlet Witch, Brother Voodoo, and Magik battling the Inquisitors, to Zelma Stanton struggle to discover magic, to Wong’s dilemma that he finds content with. All accumulating to Doctor Strange’s attempts to defeat the Imperator, where he utilizes spells and magic of old combined with newly discovered tricks and weapons in his efforts. Aaron has this ability to make these moments feel grand and significant. The writing also has the vibe of passion as the messaging of the values of the unknown, shouldn’t be forgotten.
People call comic events like Civil War and Siege as being the comic book story equivalents of a Hollywood blockbuster. However this series thus far along with this arcs closing chapter, truly embrace it with the addition of complex themes and engaging characters. Its closing is satisfying but don’t think that it’s a definitive conclusion. It leaves itself open and lays groundwork for future stories, ones that can possibly be more intriguing than the one that just ended.
Artist Chris Bachalo is one of the best in the business, however his style is only suited for a select few characters. The Sorcerer Supreme fortunately is well fitted for Bachalo’s frantic style. This book calls for chaotic and bizarre images and he takes full advantage of that. From the atmospheric basements of Strange’s home, to the grand mystical temples in the Himalayas. You also get a true grasp of emotion from the characters, not just from their facial expressions but their posturing as well. The line work is pointedly well detailed and the colors make for a very intense and suspenseful tone. The use of green and purple hues is an inspiring choice and is creates some glorious looking visuals.
As said before, people should be more than thrilled that this series isn’t on the chopping block once “Civil War II” is concluded. Jason Aaron clearly has a passion for not just this character, but the themes that tag along with him. Building the scales to a degree that seem monumental. Chris Bachalo’s work only adds to that passion, creating atmosphere and tone that only escalate the stakes. Not subsuming to the current events that the rest of the Marvel Universe is entrenched in, has allowed this creative team to add lure and more importantly, legacy to the Sorcerer Supreme.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach
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