Monday, October 24, 2016

Doctor Strange #13 Review and **SPOILERS**


Whenever I Want Filler, All I Have To Do is Dream

Writer: Jason Aaron 
Artist: Chris Bachalo 
Inkers: Al Vey, John Livesay, Victor Olazaba, Wayne Faucher & Tim Townsend 
Colors: Antonio Fabela & Java Tartaglia with Bachalo 
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit 
Cover: Kevin Nowlan 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: October 19, 2016


When I was nine years old, my dad took me to see a movie called Dreamscape. Starred Dennis Quaid and a bunch of actors I didn’t know, plus George Wendt who I knew from Cheers. I also recognized David Patrick Kelly from watching the Warriors on the Friday Night Movie program. Actually I remember it coming on some Sunday afternoons, too. Anyway, the point of this film is that there’s a government initiative where psychics are trained to enter the dreams of others, where they can be killed without a trace—because, of course, if you die in your dream you die in real life. I honestly don’t remember a ton of details about this movie, but in one scene David Patrick Kelly morphs into a snake-man, and that stuck with me for a bunch of years. Looking over my old sketch pads and doodles, it’s just attempt after attempt to capture to snake-man in all his nightmarish horror. Doctor Strange is having a nightmare, too, considering he was abducted to the Nightmare Realm by its master, Nightmare at the end of the last issue. They really should come up with some better nomenclature for these nouns. Let’s take a look at what Doctor Strange is up to, but be quiet! He could be sleeping soundly!

Explain It!

Hard to imagine that Doctor Stephen Strange had a life before he became Sorcerer Supreme, even though he’s no longer the Sorcerer Supreme since Imperikul stole all the Earth’s magic. For one thing, “Doctor” is not just a meaningless prefix like “Doctor of Philosophy” or “Doctor Dre.” Strange was an actual surgeon, and a brilliant one at that, and the accolades he garnered for never losing a patient went straight to his head. He had a mansion, fancy cars, and lots of adoring women who couldn’t wait to get a physical examination from the good Doc. Tons of women. Women by the truckload. In fact, he doesn’t recall ever attracting as many women as he is right now, in the unfamiliar home that he owns, belying the fact that he is actually held hostage by Nightmare, the Big Kahuna of the Nightmare Realm, which was a thing long before Neil Gaiman’s Sandman so let’s not start. Though Nightmare spared Doctor Strange a fatal ass-whupping at the hands of his nemesis Baron Mordo, that turns out to be a coincidence. Nightmare merely wants to screw with Strange in his depowered state, as payback for messing around with Nightmare all these years.

Back in the physical dimension, Strange’s librarian Zelma Stanton and Wong notice that Doctor Strange sort of vanished in the middle of his fight with Baron Mordo, and wonder where he’s gotten to. Wong is sure he’s not dead, or the Sanctum Sanctorum, better known as Doctor Strange’s house, would have told him. I wish my house could talk to me. It could let me know if I have Chef Boy-Ar-Dee in the cabinet without my having to get up and check. But then again, it would probably chastise me for practicing so much self-abuse. Anyway, Wong and Zelma figure he’s got to be in the Nightmare Realm, so they go to sleep in order to save Strange, and this promptly results in their being controlled by Nightmare. It’s his realm, people. It’s named after him. You think you’re going to get the drop on Nightmare in his own house? This ain’t Mount Olympus, folks.

Knowing that Nightmare gets his power from nightmares, and that there are roughly four-billion people on Earth asleep at any given moment (lucky bastards), Doctor Strange uses some kind of new spell that allows him to steal everyone’s nightmares, which has the triple effect of giving everyone nice dreams, taking away Nightmare’s power, and absorbing all the messed-up crappy stuff people dream about into his world. Strange spends a few Scooby-Doo style panels running away from monsters and witches, as well as several dreams of boredom which are closer to the kinds of bad dreams I have. Ultimately, this either makes Nightmare smaller or Doctor Strange bigger—I don’t think it matters in a dimension without space or time—and after securing the safety of Zelma and Wong, Strange awakes—in a diner booth across from Satana!
So this was a lot of nonsense, huh? I suppose it isn’t a singularly bad story, but once again we are treated to an extra-expanded Doctor Strange story arc with at least one issue where nothing of consequence happens. And by that, I mean this one, issue #13. I liked seeing Strange’s stupid dream about his stupid previous life, but not that much. The rest of it was a lot of nothing and it all ended with an awkwardly-placed macguffin. The art looks good, but it’s not enough to keep this from getting the most dreaded score this site can give any comic book.

Bits and Pieces: 

Here's a filler issue to expand this story arc into a neat five- or six-issue trade paperback collection. This is the second time the series has clearly done it. I've about had it, this book is an absolute rip-off since you need read only two-thirds of the issues that are released. This comic book deserves a FU 5 because it always seems to be biding its time and I'm growing less interested in the potential payoff by the issue.


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