by Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
For some, there is a fine line to be drawn between the science fiction and fantasy genres. The former often focuses on technology and space travel while the latter often takes place on Earth-like planets and features magic, and it’s easy to see why the twain should never mix. While these differences are stark, many have come to recognize that enough similarities exist between the two for them to be clumped into one genre called “speculative fiction.” The Marvel Universe, with its huge amount of both space-age technology and mystical powers, certainly belongs in this classification. While this hasn’t hasn’t always been an easy mixing, in Doctor Strange 1 it not only works, but is explained elegantly.
Stephen Strange is reeling from the gradual loss of his mystical powers. This leads him to Tony Stark, of all people, who is known for being a champion of technology. Being a man that views things from a scientific standpoint, he has an interesting perspective on Stephen’s problem.
As Tony says, Stephen’s problem could be an “engineering” one, that is, one that can be fixed with reason and logic and not by tapping into some mystical base knowledge. Tony continues along this path and suggests that Stephen may be able to regain his powers if he uses technology to visit other worlds in a quest to find magic fuel.
At first this might seem blunt, but in reality this approach is quite elegant in terms of expressing how magic and science exist in the Marvel universe. When Stephen first arrives at Tony’s, they argue about portals. Tony makes the point that a magic portal is the same thing as a scientific one. The only difference is how you access and activate it. For some, like Stephen, they access it using magic. For others, like Tony, they access it using science. This suggests that magic and science are in some ways the same thing. They tap into the mysteries of the Marvel universe and allow their users to do incredible things. Magic and science aren’t what give superheroes their powers, it gives them access to to a third party entity they can tap into to do incredible things.
This is an unique explanation as to how science and magic coexist in Marvel stories and one I think is interesting. It basically says that Tony and Stephen are the same type of hero, the only difference being how they go about tapping into the world’s latent superness.
*Please note I purposefully didn’t make reference to that Asimov quote about magic and science. It’s just a bit overdone these days.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?