by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: Doctor Stephen Strange was the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. It’s a baller title, and it comes with some insane responsibilities and nearly unimpeachable authority. Like, when Doctor Strange shows up on the scene, the other heroes know that he’s there because he knows what he’s doing. But when you strip the title away, what changes in Stephen’s life? Doctor Strange 383 continues Donny Cates’ saga of Loki’s tenure as the Sorcerer Supreme, but keeps Stephen under the microscope to determine what the remains of the main without the mantle.
What we’re left with is an amazingly grounded character, with considerably more relatable foibles than we’re used to seeing. My favorite detail is that he’s been texting and emailing and calling Wong incessantly about his plans to invade Asgard. He’s robbed of the de facto authority the title gives him, so he has to win his friend over by actually selling him on the idea. There’s an adorable eagerness to this version of the character, and even when he’s packing Heimdall-confounding spells and vanishing out of Fear God’s hands, he is hilariously human. Artist Gabriel Walta takes two separate opportunities to emphasize just how small Stephen is against the powers he seeks to traverse or control — first as he crosses the Bifrost and again when trying to tap the World Tree.
Even Stephen’s more modest appearance plays into this vanilla persona. He’s not wearing robes or amulets or anything like that. He wears a black jacket and dark jeans, and both his hair and his beard are trimmed short. The flamboyant man of extravagance is gone and what we’re left with disarmingly modest. Hell, the dufflebag he carries around with him makes him feel like a vagabond, or a drifter — with no real home to return to. It’s even sadder to realize that he’s carrying Bats’ stubby corpse around with him. He’s a man of real weakness, who needs his dogs, and needs his friends, and who needs a fucking plan. It’s maybe the most exciting version of Doctor Strange I’ve ever seen, and the only thing that’s changed is his title.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?