Monday, October 3, 2016

Doctor Strange Annual #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

When the Ex Visits Just to Gloat

Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Backup Writer: Robbie Thompson
Backup Artist: Jonathan Marks Barravecchia
Backup Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Price: $4.99
On Sale Date: September 28, 2016


Why hasn’t the internet made a parody of Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” titled “Doctor Strange?”

This is a serious failing. Get on that. If you need inspiration, check out my review of Doctor Strange Annual #1, right here!

Explain It!

One side-effect of Imperikul having wiped away the world’s magic is that Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum looks like an absolute dump. I mean, I know “shabby chic” is a thing, but this place should probably be condemned. Stephen and Wong are pretty attached to it, though, so they’ve hired a metaphysical contractor who specializes in fixing sorcerers’ domains and probably Druidic altars as well. Wong is pissed off because the contractor is using multi-dimensional weather stripping and not inter-dimensional weather stripping, as requested by Stephen, and boy I know what that’s about. I mean, not personally, but my wife watches a lot of HGTV, so I have seen many scripted, manufactured situations that might arise during home repair. What I’ve learned is that whatever time and money you’ve budgeted for a renovation, triple it. Then triple that. Then add another ten percent to redo the foundation and all of the electrical, which will be inevitable. Then bag the whole idea and try to make it work with new curtains.

Doctor Strange gets Wong to stop breaking the contractor’s balls, explaining the finer points of being held hostage by work partially-done, when the doorbell rings. Since his librarian Zelma is on vacation, and she doesn’t actually answer the door as part of her job anyway, Stephen opens the door to find Clea, the woman who helped him fight the Dread Dormammu in the Dark Dimension (way back in Strange Tales #126, November 1964!)—and Doctor Strange’s wife??? Yeah, it looks like they were spiritually wed back in their more impetuous days, and as a result share each other’s magical burden or something. Point is, now that there’s no more magic in the world, she wants a divorce—when all Stephen wants is a cup of tea, but Wong is nowhere to be found. Clea and Strange go check Wong’s room, a place the Doctor admits he has never entered before, and once inside they become trapped and besieged by the contractor, who has now morphed into a demon named Xycorax. The contract Stephen signed apparently stipulated that payment for his services would be rendered in the form of Wong, who is currently in his tentacled clutches, and this deal doesn’t sit well with the old Mystic. Just then, Zelma comes back from vacation, blissfully relax, so Clea grabs her bliss and chucks it at Xycorax in order to make him chill out and let Wong go. This leaves Zelma grumpy, but buys the gang a little time to deal with a document Zelma brought in from outside—a glowing piece of paper that, when torn, nullifies any magically legal contract. Clea had created it for their divorce, but she suggest Stephen conjured it because he cares for Wong so much, and wants to kill his deal with the contractor. Which he does. This returns Xycorax to his human form, upon which Zelma takes out her crabby frustration. In the end, it turns out that this was just another ruse by Stephen to make Clea like him again, which is really just the living end!

There’s a backup by Robbie Thompson and Jonathan Marks Barravecchia in a watercolor style that looks to be some set-up for the forthcoming Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme title, and it’s certainly cool enough, but if the opening story didn’t do it for you then the backup won’t reel you in. All told, this is a fairly good issue with some nice character work and some more clarification on Strange being a selfish baby. I really liked the art in the first story, this seems to be the more “plain” direction Doctor Strange has been taking in the last couple of issues, and I like it. The art in the back is less typical but still pretty cool, yet it does suffer from a few plotting problems that made the story difficult to follow. I don’t know that it whet my appetite for the new Sorcerers Supreme title, but it didn’t not whet my appetite, which is about all one can hope for.

Bits and Pieces:

A cute throwback story for long-time Doctor Strange fans, that seems primarily to set up some future story and reinforce the fact that Stephen Strange is a jerk. The art is really nice, reminiscent of David Aja, and this looks to be the visual trend of the last issue or two. There's a backup that provides some back story for the forthcoming Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme series, and it's a nice enough story but not entirely worth paying another buck for. The first story is good enough.

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