Stephen Strange has been playing a supporting role in the Avengers teams since the 90s when his last solo series finished. The Sorcerer Supreme is finally back in his own series and it starts out relatively strong with the first issue coming from writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bacalo.
The book is kind to newcomers of Dr. Strange’s story and does a one-page recap of his journey to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme. It immediately jumps into Dr. Strange’s weekly routine of fighting in magical battles to protect the souls of the people of New York City. We get to see Strange living in the magical world that is never entirely explored in the mainstream world of Marvel. He hangs out with other magicians at a bar, he sees magical demons and parasites crawling all over the city and he jokes about being the only doctor who still makes house calls.
Aaron starts the series off with an interesting new take on the character of Dr. Strange because he doesn’t focus on Strange’s relationship with the Avengers, but on his relationship to the magical world, which is relatively new to the readers of this book. Aaron starts with a character that hasn’t had the microscope on him in a long time and shows us the nuance of his world. One of the most interesting parts of the book was the interaction between Strange and other magic users when we begin to see the rules and complex realities of wielding magic in the Marvel Universe.
The tone of this book is a mixture of funny and dramatic. In one page alone, Dr. Strange battles a magical demon on a busy sidewalk and jokes about being kind to the people mumbling to themselves on the street because they could be fighting the forces of evil. It’s refreshing and fun to see Dr. Strange kicking ass and making jokes about such serious topics as the damage to the soul of a young 8-year-old boy.
The art of the book is gorgeous and Bacalo does a wonderful job creating the dichotomy between the mundane world and the surreal, magical world. Bacalo uses hues and tones to emphasize the different worlds that Strange lives in and it plays out incredibly well. The pages where Strange is traveling through the real world share similar, monochromatic backgrounds and hues that seem to explode with color and drama as Strange travels into the magical world. He handles large, cinematic panels with a balance of intimate, private scenes very well.
Doctor Strange #1 is one of the first books in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe and Aaron has started with a strong first issue. It will be interesting to see what comes next in this new world.