Monday, November 21, 2016

Doctor Strange #14 Review and **SPOILERS** - Marvel Monday

Worst. Hell. Ever.

Writer: Jason Aaron 
Artist: Chris Bachalo 
Inkers: Al Vey, John Livesay, Victor Olazaba, Tim Townsend & Wayne Faucher 
Colors: Antonio Fabela with Java Tartaglia 
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit 
Cover: Kevin Nowlan 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: November 16. 2016


Hey young folks, here’s something that I hope will make you wake up in a cold sweat, kids: the things you’re good at now? You won’t always be good at them. Maybe you’re a math whiz, or the funniest person in school, or someone that’s always winning local art contests. When you’re young and there seems to be oodles of time to lie around and do nothing, you tend to excel at a few things. And the promise of youth can be enticing enough for adults to want to award it. But over time, life will get in the way, some of your pursuits will turn into hobbies, and some of those hobbies will become things you used to do, and then someday you’ll realize that you remember less from your Honors level Spanish class than you could learn watching an episode of Sesame Street. So think about how Stephen Strange feels, having been stripped of his magic and become the target of ethereal bullies that want nothing less than revenge, though they will accept a little humiliation while they’re at it. That’s the situation in which Doctor Strange finds himself in issue #14, which you can read about right now!
Explain It!

So you’ll recall, and even if you don’t, that Doctor Strange was spirited away from the Nightmare dimension by Madame Satana, who rightfully whisks him to Hell. This isn’t your grandpappy’s Hell, though, this is (as Satana humorously describes) an All-New, All-Different Hell, once stocked with a bunch of famous demons and that features celebrity souls. At the moment, Strange and Satana are sitting in a diner, the cook being Master Pandemonium, who has demons for arms. The other customers and staff are all demons, and even the booth Strange is sitting on seems to have it out for him. All Satana wants is for Stephen to have some of their bacon-wrapped bacon, made from possessed swine. Unforuntately, someone had the last serving, so Satana calls him over, rips the bacon out of his stomach, and forces Doctor Strange to eat it while everyone looks on. Under duress, Strange eats the bile-soaked bacon and suffers no ill effects for about three seconds, before he starts oozing blood from his tear ducts and pores.
The idea here is that Stephen Strange’s body will die from having eating possessed bacon, and his soul will become a denizen of Satana’s Hell on account of the rules or something like that. Once a member of Satana’s team, Strange will have no choice but to be her lounge singer and probably VIP greeter. He’s trussed up and hung in the diner’s cooler, where Master Pandemonium stands watch. Because Pandemonium’s arms are always bickering, Strange thinks he can sneak his astral projection out of his body, but the demon can see him and socks his ghost a good one. Then Doctor Strange shrinks his astral form so it can creep around to the front of his body’s mouth, hop down his gullet, and tickle his esophagus with a feather. This makes him hurl the evil bacon and a whole lot of other gross crap besides, right on Master Pandemonium, knocking him to the floor. Having ridden the wave of puke like a Hawaiian surfer, Doctor Strange’s tiny astral form frees his body, then combines to they can make good their escape. Strange surfaces topside at one of the entrances to Hell—right by Newark Airport—and hops in a cab back to the Sanctum Sanctorum—a cab that is driven by a guy with a giant eyeball for a head!
This issue was a pretty quick read, but I had a lot of fun with it. There were a few funny interactions, especially Master Pandemonium’s arms arguing with one another, and despite not being a moron I did feel a little concern that perhaps Doctor Strange might not magic his way out of this. Which he didn’t, not really. I mean, the astral projection thing, that’s like light magic, that’s not his normal Crimson Bands of Cyttorak stuff. Early on in reviewing this series, I may have said that the art was clumsy or would take some getting used to. Well, I have either gotten used to it or stopped being obtuse, because I love the artwork in this book. It seems that Bachalo is really in his element when depicting gross things with too many eyeballs. This comic book is a good time, but perhaps not a four-dollar good time.

Bits and Pieces: 

A fun little romp through a conceptual stylish Hell that reads a bit too quickly for my liking. You will want to pore over the lushly and grossly illustrated pages, however, and there are lots of funny moments to hold your interest. This was perhaps the singularly most entertaining issue in the entire series, even if it didn't bring us demonstrably closer to the end game face-off with Baron Mordo.


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