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

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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

Doctor Strange: Damnation 2 is Basically a Heist Movie

by Taylor Anderson

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

Just as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Steven Soderbergh will reemerge from “retirement” now and again to make another heist movie. One can’t blame him for this: heist movies are fun, and Soderbergh has shown that he’s become very good at making them. Still, why is it that our thirst for these can’t be sated? Is it seeing familiar faces from different walks of life team-up? The notion of stealing for a just cause like Robin Hood? Or perhaps it’s serving comeuppance to someone who deserves it. Whatever the reason may be, the heist story is here to stay, and, as Donny Cates and Nick Spencer show, is easily transferable to the superhero genre. Continue reading

Underestimating Rock Bottom in Doctor Strange 386

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: Doctor Strange has had a rough year. Mind you, I don’t think superheroes ever get to have easy years, but Strange has still had it harder than most as of late, between the Empirikul’s magical genocide, Loki’s coup, and the loss of all his friends and allies. It makes sense that Strange might be looking for a win. It makes sense that his decision to raise and restore Las Vegas might not be entirely selfless. And, given the price he’s paying for this act, it makes sense that his attempts to make things right are only leading to more mistakes. Strange thought he’d hit rock bottom, but he didn’t realize how much worse things could get. Continue reading

Doctor Strange: Damnation 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

Spencer: Since our audience has excellent taste, I’m going to assume that you’re all watching NBC’s The Good Place, right? Essentially a show about lost souls trying to earn their way into Heaven by becoming better people, one of the more interesting concepts percolating beneath the show’s surface is the idea that the rules dictating what afterlife you’re sent to are inherently flawed and unfair. It’s almost impossible to earn your way into the Good Place — only the most selfless and charitable of souls make it — leaving plenty of folks who led wholly mediocre lives (or whose greatest crimes were being born in Florida) facing an eternity of torture and punishment. I couldn’t help but think of this while reading Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, and Rod Reis’ Doctor Strange: Damnation 1, which finds the city of Las Vegas, the Avengers, and perhaps the entire world being judged by equally biased, unfair rules. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 385: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: Where does trust come from, narratively speaking? It’s almost a process of subtraction: audiences trust what they are presented with until they are given a reason not to. We’ll be dubious of anything a villain says because they demonstrate themselves to be dishonest, or greedy, or whatever it is that triggers our own feeling of moral superiority. Heroes are, of course, the opposite: we will trust them, even give them the benefit of the doubt when they make bad calls. Ultimately, we’re acting on our faith in narrative structure and we trust our hero to be in the right by the end of the story. Doctor Strange 385 twists our assumptions about right and wrong, about heroism and villainy without ever truly violating our expectations for Stephen Strange or Loki. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 384: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: This is the second week in a row that I get to name-drop the Sentry! I think I may be in the minority when I say that I like the Sentry, the Dr. Jekyll Superman analogue with a Mr. Hyde counterpart called The Void. I don’t think that he should be headlining his own book, but I do like him as a co-star or part of an ensemble. Donny Cates makes excellent use out of the Sentry in Doctor Strange 384. Continue reading

Life After the Title in Doctor Strange 383

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. Continue reading

A Dog’s Day in Doctor Strange 382

By Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange 382

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

A couple months ago, my wife and I fulfilled our destiny as newlyweds and took one step closer to actual adulthood by buying a dog. She’s an unholy mix between a labrador retriever and a dachshund, and perhaps the cutest dog on the planet. Even when she chews up favorite bookmarks I’ve had for years or drinks water so compulsively fast that she barfs it all back up one minute later forcing me to clean it up, I can’t help but love her. I blame the eyes. One sad puppy-dog look from her an all is forgiven. This is all to say I understand why people love dogs and why they seemingly go to the ends of the earth for them. As it turns out, that’s something I have in common with Stephen Strange, as well. Continue reading