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 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 7/Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic 1

doctor strange roundupToday, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Doctor Strange 7 and Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic 1, originally released April 27th, 2016.

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Doctor Strange 7

Spencer: Science vs. magic, in one form or another, has been a debate since the beginning of time. Those fighting this battle defend their side vehemently, probably because the conflict taps into a number of elemental aspects of the human condition, such as the origin of life, the idea of a higher power, and perhaps most fundamentally, the balance between order and chaos. The thing most people lose sight of, though — especially the Imperator of the Empirikul, villain of Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s Doctor Strange 7 — is that it isn’t an either/or proposition. Science and magic can, and should, exist side-by-side. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 2

 

doctor-strange-2 reduxToday, Mark and Spencer are discussing Doctor Strange 2, originally released November 4th, 2015.

Mark: Do comic books—straight up comic books—make money? Like, remove the merchandise licensing, remove the blockbuster movies and animated releases, are comic books a profitable business? Both DC and Marvel operate under the umbrella of their corporate parents (Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company respectively), and while the publishing of comic books probably continues to bring in a tidy sum, these books are really just generating intellectual property that the real money makers (the aforementioned merchandise and blockbusters) can continue to exploit. It’s with that lightly cynical viewpoint that I approach the relaunch of Doctor Strange. Like Ant-Man earlier this year, Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange feels like a timely relaunch intended to bring Stephen Strange to a more prominent role in the cultural landscape after years of languishing on Marvel’s bench. Continue reading