by Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The Marvel universe is as deep as the Mariana Trench, which is to say it’s practically bottomless. After more than fifty years of continuously pumping out serialized stories, it’s fair to say that no person knows everything about the Marvel universe no matter how much they’ve read. The breadth of its history gives writers a leg up when writing their stories: when you have deep pool to draw from it’s unlikely it will run dry any time soon. Even with the vastness of this narrative landscape, Doctor Strange stands out because it always hints at an even deeper world history beyond the Marvel pages. This is something Dennis Hopeless knows and uses to his great advantage in Doctor Strange 21.
Stephen, Spider Woman, the Kingpin, and Ben Urich are continuing their fight against Mordo and the Darkforce dome that has descended over Manhattan. After fighting a witch employed by the Kingpin, Stephen finds several magical artifacts that could aid him in his fight with Mordo. The problem is, however, each artifact has a significant drawback when used by a human being.
I’ve marveled before at the ability of Doctor Strange to suggest a world that is deeper than what is presented on the page and I suppose this is no different. However, what really impresses me in this instance is the way all of these magical items exist within the context of history, both in the Marvel universe and our own. It stands to reason that anyone who used the magical horn, Mayan knife, or werebear necklace would be known to history. However, outside of Stephen, few, if any, knows about these events. The reason is because each item eventually destroys the person who wields it so their story is lost to time. They say history is written by the winners after all.
What’s neat about this little bit of world building is that it suggests these things exist in the Marvel universe and, in a way, even our own. How? The same reason that no one knows about the magical objects in the Marvel universe in theory could be the same no one in our does either. Now I’m not saying I believe in these magical items – they are clearly fictional – but there’s something fun and clever about a story that hints at the hidden history in our own world as well as its own. In this way, Hopeless has crafted a world that is endlessly deep and fascinating that could be very well be fictional, or maybe even our own.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?