Monday, January 2, 2017

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #3 Review and **SPOILERS**

Don’t Go Into the Basement

Writer: Robbie Thompson
Penciler: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Álvaro López
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Javier Rodriguez & Álvaro López
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: December 28, 2016


I think it’s probably a bad idea to peek into a magician’s basement. In the regular Doctor Strange title, he’s dealing with the ramifications of having stuffed all the residual pain from his many spells into a cellar, and in this title a whole team of Sorcerers Supreme are contending with a beast resulting from Merlin stuffing all his most unlikable baddies into King Arthur’s nether region. His castle’s nether region, that is. Even us non-magicians cram basements and attics with our most embarrassing mementos and dead bodies, you’d have to expect that warlocks would have a lot worse stuff than yearbooks and high school poetry. But how can we resist? Let’s descend into Merlin’s no-no room in this issue of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme! Right now!

Explain It!

Now that Merlin’s dead and the Sorcerer’s Supreme have fairly well pilfered his magic wares, it’s time to meet some of the crew…or at least one of the crew. At least this bodes well for this series extending beyond six issues. First up is Kushala, sort of an indigenous tribal mage that I can only assume is from America’s 19th century. As evidence, I present her origin: born at night, fully grown, her family and village was burned to the ground by some cowboy-looking dudes, so she called out to the Creator for help. Instead, she was infused by some magic that allowed her to burn her antagonists—so cleanly, that only their spirits remained. It’s clear that she finds herself an abomination now, and suffers a lot of guilt and shame and would love to be rid of her destructive curse.
See, this is that nice character building that people online always clamor for but can never articulate what it is they actually mean. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, just come up with your wacky backstory and then write characters to behave accordingly. So she does while descending the long staircase into Merlin’s keep, informing Doctor Strange and the reader about the hows and whys of Merlin’s monster jail. Though Merlin did his best to protect the castle, they come upon a room full of people clinging to life, their souls having been sent on a walkabout—doubtless the work of the Forgotten. Or left in the Forgotten’s wake. Kushala throws a couple of barbs at Merlin and Doctor Strange as they travel deeper into the castle. Kushala notes that the spirits of the folks found strewn in that room upstairs are following them. They are, as yet, benign…but they are rotting. So their metaphysical stock will need to be rotated.
Eventually, the Sorceys get to Merlin’s creepiest door, which seems to have a variation of the Freemasonic compass and square above it…just saying. Newton makes his Mindful One produce a key given to them previously by Merlin himself…I love Newton and the Mindful One so much. I hope we see more of them beyond this book in the future. Inside Merlin’s inner sanctum is another MC Escher double-page spread, which is not entirely unwelcome. While the Sorcerinos rifle through the library and take what they please, the souls that had been following them arrive—and big surprise, they’ve eaten after midnight and turned evil! Newton constructs a shield to protect them, causing Wiccan to make a snarky comment, but it is no match for the Forgotten, who shows up and sends everything into chaos! The Sorcerers Supreme seem to have little effect upon it, then Kushala turns into the vengeful fire monster that she despises and inflicts some damage. The Sorcerata act as a team to get the Forgotten to drop its amulet and reveal its true nature—it is not one maligned monster, but many! Which we sort of knew already. But the Sorcerers Supreme didn’t! The Forgotten takes off through a portal, having grabbed the secret diary it wanted, not knowing that the gun-wielding Sorcerer snatched a page earlier in the story! In the end, the people get their souls restored, and the Sorcerini convene and decide to head to the Hollow Out of Time, where the Forgotten likes to hang out. The epilogue is learning that Merlin promised to free Kushala from her murderous curse, which probably isn’t going to happen now.
Though it is a comic book, so I’m sure Merlin will make his way back eventually. I had a pretty good time with this story, even though much of it involved a team of characters walking through a castle. When it counted, however, they acted well as a team and that makes me interested to see more of their adventures. I still don’t know everyone’s name, but I’m definitely curious to know them and to see lots more of Newton and the Mindful One. Perhaps in a miniseries about them at home similar to the Odd Couple. In terms of the visual presentation, there’s not really anything wrong with it, nor is there anything particularly notable. The double-page spread of Merlin’s library rendered all wacky was done well enough, but it wasn’t anything mind-bending. If you’re into this magic side of Marvel Comics, you’d do well to check this series out. There’s some cool things happening, though at a more leisurely pace than I’d prefer.

Bits and Pieces:

Most of this book is a long and winding conversation, but there are a few scenes of action and intrigue that make it worth a look. The storytelling and plotting is fairly straightforward, so anyone worried about offbeat comic book layouts can read without compunction. This issue makes me want to read more issues, which is fairly well the point of comic books, I think. That, and giving us something to write about.


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