*Ties in with the Secret Empire crossover
Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo put together a really strong Doctor Strange series at the beginning of All-New, All-Different Marvel. It was one of the many gems that initiative brought together, despite much of the backlash to it.
The fact that the two were leaving did cause a bit of concern for the future of the series. Despite Dennis Hopeless’s truly great Spider Woman series, there was some doubt as to whether or not he would be able to maintain the high quality of the Doctor Strange series, especially given that he was put on in the midst of a massive crossover like Secret Empire.
I’m glad to say that his book connects to Aaron’s perfectly.
Doctor Stephen Strange, like many of New York’s residential heroes, was caught under the power of the Darkforce Dome in New York when Steve Rogers and Hydra took over the U.S. Strange has yet to find a means of escape from the dome.
Meanwhile, Daredevil, Spider Woman, and Ben Urich have spotted the Sanctum Santorum in a bubble of its own midway up the Chrysler Building and intend to see if it holds a means of escaping the Darkforce.
Both their plan and Strange’s own attempts at escape collide, and we discover the mastermind behind the Darkforce Dome: Baron Mordo.
This is a good and aptly weird read. It’s easily among the best Secret Empire tie-ins to be published so far, and it keeps the spirit of Aaron’s Doctor Strange alive and well. The Doctor himself is smart and snarky, and his plans definitely fall outside the realm of ordinary.
As mentioned above, Spider Woman and Daredevil guest-star in this issue. That makes enough since given that the super hero population of Manhattan is even higher than usual, thanks to Captain America and Baron Mordo. One shouldn’t be surprised by the addition of Jessica Drew given that her book seemed to be something of a passion project for Mr. Hopeless. I’m honestly not complaining. Spider Woman is a great character, and she and Doctor Strange share some good sniping banter in this issue. The two practice gallows humor very well together.
The art of Mr. Niko Henrichon manages to up the artistic ante even further with a dark, gritty, and shaded look. This not only fits the tone of the overall Secret Empire story, but also the current life of Stephen Strange. He is having to resort to unconventional means to practice magic, and the spells he has in hand are far less powerful than his usual repertoire, thanks to the Empirikul from Aaron and Bachalo’s first Doctor Strange story arc.
The large eldritch creature which hounds our heroes in this issue doesn’t have the most unique design in the world, but it still looks fairly cool and is appropriately Lovecraftian in appearance. It also bears the novelty of having swallowed Doctor Strange for the first portion of the story.
This book doesn’t really provide any grand game-changers for either the larger crossover or this series. It does show the cause of Manhattan’s woes, which does advance Secret Empire to a minor degree.
However, this was still a strong first impression from Hopeless and Henrichon. It was a weird, funny, and action-packed tale. It shows a lot of promise for the future of Stephen Strange, and it is definitely recommended.
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