They Said What? in Doctor Strange 3

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If you’ve ever had the fortune (or misfortune as it might be) of being an English major, you’ve likely entertained the idea of being a writer at some point in time — probably college. So you penned a couple stories that were mediocre at best and realized along the way that writing is actually quite difficult. Specifically, writing dialogue is a hard part of the process, if for no other reason than it is difficult to make it sound natural. This being so, I don’t blame Mark Waid for having hard time writing conversation in Doctor Strange 3, but his difficulty in writing it sure makes this issue hard to enjoy. Continue reading

Science and Magic Reconciled in Doctor Strange 1

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. Continue reading

Ambiguity and Closure in Doctor Strange 390

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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I had a writing teacher in college that used to say there were four kinds of stories. The first is the most common: the hero wants something, gets it, and is happy he got it. We see this one in superhero media all the time, right? Batman wants to catch the Riddler, he does, feels great about it. The second type of story is the hero wants something, gets it, is unhappy he got it. This is the old Twilight Zone twist — “I can live forever, BUT AT WHAT COST?” The last two kinds of stories are similar: hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is happy to have not gotten it, and; hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is unhappy to have not gotten it. Doctor Strange 390 manages to be a weird mix of all these types of stories, where even the question of who our hero is leads to some fascinating ambiguity. Donny Cates’ send-off to Doctor Strange is as mysterious, and true to the tone of the character, as a reader could possibly hope for. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 4: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange Damnation 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: Big comic book events and crossovers aren’t exactly known for intimate, character-based storytelling — instead we read these stories to see dozens (sometimes hundreds) of characters all hanging out and mixing together in ways they never would at any other time. Damnation has been an interesting event because it’s the exact opposite — Donny Cates, Nick Spencer, and Rod Reis’ story works best when the scope remains small, and becomes weaker and weaker the more it tries to be an “event.” Continue reading

The Lies Tell the Truth in Doctor Strange 389

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Doctor Strange is not an honest dude. Whatever other virtues he possesses, Stephen will keep a secret, or distort the truth, without hesitation. Some lies are lies of opportunity: the lie gets him something. But then there’s the much more human lie, the kind that reveals what’s really wrong by highlighting an obvious omission. Issue 389 of Doctor Strange is all about tap dancing about the one hardship Strange refused to address directly: his loneliness. Continue reading

The Story’s Scope is Not Well-Served in All-New Wolverine 34

By Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I love the concept behind this “Old Woman Laura” arc. Diving into a Wolverine’s future to find a utopia is a refreshing change of pace, and a beautiful way to show how Laura’s more civil and humane approach to heroing — her attempts to be better than Logan — eventually pays off. That Laura’s final regret — and final mission — would be Bellona brings All-New Wolverine full circle in a satisfying way. Issue 34 itself has so many delightful moments; I practically squealed when Kate Bishop showed up. Yet, for everything that I love about this storyline and this issue, it also has a few major problems. A story of this scope needs more time and room to play out than it’s getting. Continue reading

Bats is a Good Boy in Doctor Strange 388

By Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In the past, I’ve made no bones about how much I like the ghost-dog, Bats, in Doctor Strange. A lot of why I like him is because he’s a rude, talking animal that isn’t afraid to tell it the way it is. While that still plays a lot into why I like him as a character, in issue 388 I find I’m liking him more because of who he is instead of what he is. Continue reading

Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I love the idea of popping into a character’s far-flung future. It’s a way of taking a character’s essence and teasing out the results of a life lived in that essence — the ultimate if-then statement. If you’re a violent loner, then you end up alone and wracked with guilt. It’s all effect, and the cause is understood to be part of the character’s DNA. All-New Wolverine 33 kicks off the “Old Woman Laura” story, and writer Tom Taylor and artist Ramon Rosanas show the result of Laura’s legacy of positivity and leadership. Even in a world that was rocked by Doom World Wars, there’s still joy, prosperity, sorority and productivity in Laura’s future. Continue reading

Doctor Strange Damnation 3 is Cool

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“Okay, sounds cool.”

-Blade, Doctor Strange Damnation 3

There’s a lot of heady framework supporting Doctor Strange Damnation. Writers Nick Spencer and Donny Cates are playing with some of the most amoral and immoral heroes in the Marvel Universe as they navigate the fallout of the biggest heel turn in comics history. Plus the goddamn devil is there collecting the wages of sin. So, y’know: a lot of loose morality to sort through. Issue three of this miniseries lets all of that set-up take a back seat. For 20 glorious pages, Spencer, Cates and artist Szymon Kudranski just let cool shit happen. Continue reading

Strange Continues to Damn Himself in Doctor Strange 387

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: Damnation is an appropriate title for this event in several ways. The entire city of Las Vegas was damned to Hell when it was destroyed during Secret Empire, and its revival has damned the soul of anyone who dares get near the city. Perhaps most significant, though — especially in the Doctor Strange tie-in issues — is the damnation the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Stephen Strange, faces. There’s the literal damnation courtesy of Mephisto, of course, but Donny Cates and Niko Henrichon seem much more interested in the self-damnation Strange has put himself through, the way he’s driven away his friends and allies, and the increasingly desperate and toxic ways he’s attempting to cope with this fact. Continue reading