Monday, October 10, 2016

Doctor Strange #12 Review and **SPOILERS**



Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Richard Friend, Al Vey, Victor Olazaba & John Livesay
Colors: Antonio Fabela
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: October 5, 2016


Pardon my French, but what the fuck is this bullshit? A big #1 NOW! on the upper right corner of the cover, but the “real” issue number at the lower left? And give me any of that nonsense about this announcing the beginning of a new arc because it’s clearly meant to look like part of this new Marvel renumbering. This is way worse when they tried to play off that issue of Silver Surfer as the 200th when it was only on like issue #10 of the current volume. There something so disingenuous and careless about this, I find myself unnaturally annoyed by it. When you choose to renumber a series, you forfeit legacy. You forfeit the ability to say it has had an unbroken run for however many issues. And this tactic of advertising a story arc that should have begun one issue and an Annual ago—proving that these books kept the story running in place to fit this MARVEL NOW! event is wrong. That doesn’t mean the story is bad, though…this just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But let’s put the numbering aside, since Marvel clearly has, and take a look at the interior of Doctor Strange #12, Marvel NOW! #1!
Explain It!

So now that Imperikul has removed all the magic from planet Earth, Doctor Strange is underpowered and attempting to put all the pieces back together. We’ve known this, however, through two issues that implied there might be an interesting character rebuild, akin to Peter Parker post Superior Spider-Man. But no, instead it turns out we were being jerked around for issue #1 and Annual #1, and the story actually continues now. Thanks Marvel! I didn’t need that eight bucks anyway. I’m thrilled to fork over extra money for what is essentially nothing while you get your collective acts together. Since we’re now continuing where we left off, the oozing misery goop that Doctor Strange used to keep in his basement, and which stopped Imperikul from killing the good Doctor, is now terrorizing patients at a hospital, feeding off of their pain since that’s sort of how it’s built. Doctor Strange shows up and threatens it with a glowing green sword, suggesting it should take its ire out on him rather than the infirm. The pain goop then smashes Doctor Strange out the window, so Strange puts some magic chewing gum on the monster in an attempt to freeze it, which appears not to work. It goes back into the hospital through a window, and while Strange clambers in over the sill it announces its name is Mister Misery, because alliteration is the first refuge of evil. The hospital is disheveled like a hideous mass of congealed residual pain ran through it, and it’s only Monday.

Over at the Bar With No Doors, where all the cool sorcerers hang out, Strange nurses his wounds with a pineapple drink and Chondu informs him that Baron Mordo was around recently looking for him. Speaking of the Baron, he’s done a home invasion on a swanky apartment in Tribeca and magically made an entire family leave—then thinks better of it and forces the daughter to stay. The implications here are a bit discomfiting, but it turns out nothing sexual happens at all! She is merely sacrificed to bring the Dread Dormammu, Mordo’s boss, to the physical plane. Or maybe Dormammu kills her because he doesn’t want Mordo to kill her. It’s unclear. The point is, Dormammu is giving Mordo magic from the Dark Dimension so he can grab someone’s head. Is it Strange’s head? Wong’s head? Chondu’s head? We don’t know, though if it’s Chondu’s head it should be relatively easy to retrieve. But then Mordo had the chance to grab Chondu’s head the other day when he visited the Bar With No Doors, and he blasted his head jar with a shotgun instead. So I don’t know what to believe.

Back at the Sanctum Sanctorum, Strange is brooding with Zelma, explaining that Mordo is dangerous besides being kind of a scrub, when who do you think comes calling at the door? Why it’s Baron Mordo himself! And he’s not selling Avon products. Instead he fights Doctor Strange, who starts off by chucking a half-eaten apple at Mordo, that then grows around him and ensconces him in an apple tree. Mordo quickly breaks free of this, and then launches a magic blast at Strange (some magicians have no imagination) that Strange deflects with his cloak. But then the cloak traps Strange—I’m not sure if this is faulty magic equipment or something Mordo did, but the Baron is closing in on Strange when he suddenly seeps through the floor—and Doctor Strange finds himself in the realm of Nightmare! Both the ethereal villain and the location!

I really like that Doctor Strange is using these weird magical gadgets, like some kind of higher plane’s Batman. And I’ve got no major problem at this point with retreading some characters and storylines from the Steve Ditko era, though it could get old quick. I just can’t get past having been hoodwinked for two issues—one specially-priced Annual—to placate the readers and fake us out with a #1 announcement of “Blood in the Aether.” Hey, you know what? I don’t give a shit about “Blood in the Aether.” I don’t give a shit how excited you are to launch this story. I just want comic stories to move forward. If it’s not writing for trade collections, it’s superfluous number one issues killing the momentum of comic books.

Bits and Pieces:

Some nice, chunky artwork and some appearances by Ditko-era characters doesn't absolve me of the feeling that we've been cheated. Looks like the two Doctor Strange comics that came out in the month of September were meaningless, since the post-Imperikul story begins here. There are some cool elements of Doctor Strange's new unmagical condition, but not enough to mask my distaste. Maybe the rest of this arc will prove my annoyance to be unfounded.

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