Monday, October 31, 2016

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Supreme Team

Writer: Robbie Thompson 
Penciler: Javier Rodriguez 
Inker: Álvaro López 
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire 
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna 
Cover: Rafael Albuquerque & John Rauch 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale: October 26, 2016


Okay, so this is an incredible name for a disco group or a jam band.

I hope the comic book matches up to the incredible live performances I’m picturing in my head. Let’s find out!

Explain It!

So we got a little taste of this in…I forget. Was it a back-up in Doctor Strange? Or maybe it was the Annual. Whatever it was, we knew this was coming: Doctor Strange and the Posse. Though from the way it’s presented here, it’s more like Merlin and the Posse, since he seems to be the tie that binds the Sorcerers Supreme together. Allow an attempt to explain: as we know, the world is currently mostly bereft of magic after a magic-hating imperative called the Empirikull came and sucked it all up in his wet/dry vacuum. This has left Doctor Strange, our ever-lovin’ Sorcerer Supreme, at a disadvantage against the boogums and haints that routinely try to dominate our physical dimension. Still, he has a bunch of magic-laced weapons, like a double-edged axe that slashes the tentacles of Q’uvin the Malevolent, some unholy thing from another dimension come to test Strange’s mettle. Q’uvin is overcoming the Doctor, until Merlin shows up standing on wall (as wizards do) and he zaps the tormentor long enough for Doctor Strange to hack it up and retrieve some mystic bones or something. Merlin isn’t here to save Strange’s ass in some Greenwich Village alleyway, however, and promptly whisks the two of them into the mystical realm.
Specifically, the Backroads of Time, which I am told are more picturesque than taking the Time Expressway. The way this travel is rendered and colored, on a gorgeous two-page spread, is exquisite. It does a great job or blending Steve Ditko’s original ethereal worlds with the “walking in an M.C. Escher drawing” shtick usually applied in cartooning to symbolize another dimension. As they walk, Merlin explains that when the Empirikull whisked away all the magic in Strange’s time, it unleashed something called the Forgotten that is wreaking magi-havoc in Merin’s time. So he’s assembled Sorcerers Supreme from throughout history to battle this darkness and…say, isn’t this sort of like the plot to Spider-Verse? I guess those were variations on Spider-Man from different dimensions, but this seems awfully familiar. Merlin and Doctor Strange eventually pop out of a tree in some dense woods, and then run to the action: half a dozen Sorcerers Supreme battling gross beaver monsters that one can only assume are the Forgotten!
There’s a swashbuckling lady Sorcerer Supreme named Nina, an obnoxious little kid Sorcerer Supreme who is actually a younger version of Strange’s mentor the Ancient One, a future Sorcerer Supreme wearing a super-long striped cloak named Wiccan, a Native American Sorcerer Supreme named Kushala, and…Isaac Newton, which is a pretty nice touch. He’s one of the Mindless Ones as a sidekick, except Newton seems to have bestowed it with some level of cognition and so calls it the Mindful One. Once all of the Forgotten’s minions are killed, Merlin gives Nina a key, which she initially refuses but is somehow compelled to accept because she is the Conjuror. The team converses with one another and reveals their essential characters, but Sharing Time ends suddenly when a freakish red-haired monster bursts from the ground and snatches Merlin up in one of its four hands. In another hand is the Shield of Endless Misery, which has a mirror-like surface that shows the viewer…well, something miserable, I’d think. The Sorcerers Supreme attack, so this monster tosses Merlin aside and deftly blocks them. Strange rushes to Merlin’s side, but he is dead! Oh, and that key he gave Nina belongs to a massive underground prison where Merlin’s been locking the worst demons and spirits for many years, and they’re known as the Forgotten. I figure this will be important later.
It was a little tough to get a handle on all of these new characters, but I definitely liked what I could glean from relatively few pages. I’m a sucker for these kinds of comics, and if you’re a fan of Doctor Strange or stuff like Sandman or Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, I think you might enjoy this. The artwork is excellent, and is as compelling during Merlin and Strange’s walk through the Backroads of Time as it is during scenes of dense action. I feel like this kind of comic book is a tough sell because a lot of people don’t care for the “magic” or “dark” side of comics, but I know the fans are out there! If you like your comic books a little weird and a little spooky, then you could do worse than to give this a shot.

Bits and Pieces:

Sort of a lot to throw at the reader for a first issue, but you won't come away feeling ripped off. Fans currently reading Doctor Strange will probably appreciate this the most, though I wouldn't call it a requirement. Some really solid art and good use of whatever nightmarish visions plague Javier Rodriguez's waking hours made this a real worthwhile read--but if you don't liken to horror or magic-based heroes, then you might want to steer clear.


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