It’s strange to find myself back here again. Wasn’t entirely too thrilled about that last stretch of issues for the previous run of Doctor Strange. It was hard to see myself picking up the first issue of what came next because of that feeling of uncertainty about what I was opening myself up to. Credit where it is due, they have found a new way to shake things up. The good doctor has found a new way to experience his day now that he has use of his hands once more. It was a bold move, though so far one that has paid off for all the new opportunities in storytelling that is now opened up.
With that said, I never truly got to say my piece on this new change. To me, I found this a brilliant development. Doctor Strange may be a sorcerer at the core, but at the end of the day he is someone who lives the same way that a superhero would. Meaning, that even for someone like him there will always be that desire to have something normal to latch onto. A strong concept that we have been getting from both himself and even Jane Foster as she tackles the role of Valkyrie. When I picked up this first issue, I was looking forward to where this creative team would further push that challenge that he would have to now face trying to find a balance between being the Sorcerer Supreme and someone who was once regarded as one of the best surgeons in the world.
Now as far as most #1 issues go, Mark Waid did what is always necessary of most writers. That would be taking the time to make sure that the start is welcoming to all readers. In case you lived under a rock, this was your time to understand what kind of person Stephen Strange is, and who he used to be before he first became the Sorcerer Supreme. That along with understanding the way that he now balances out his life on both ends made it a smooth transition into this new chapter of his life. A hospital is pretty much a new setting for someone like him right now, though it helped there are new characters for him to interact with. This ultimately at the same time creates new situations for him to deal with.
The only problem that I have with this new run is the way that it ignores a lot that was introduced in the previous arc. Yeah, sometimes you want what comes after to be for the most part its own thing, but there should also be some kind of continuity to it too. Particularly when it involves the depth that was once given to the way that magic worked. You know, the tools, the resources, everything that really made the magic he used more of his own. Of course he would forget how to do the spells he learned off world that required the use of his hands, but this does not overwrite the things he even wore which were magic without the need for channeling. There are ways to emphasize the consequences and cost of magic without regressing to the way that things were long ago.
I was happy to see that Kev Walker was the artist for this book. He’s not an artist unfamiliar with the world of magic, and it showed through the way he handled the oddities of Doctor Strange’s world. With so much different about this new run, his work here helped to make this feel like there was something similar to hold on to. The way he drew these characters, creatures, and even the settings carried over that same sense of strangeness and immersion of things from the good doctor’s perspective. The only real difference was that Walker draws his characters with more of a box shape to their heads. Now while Kev Walker’s work was good, it was hard not to have a problem with the change in costume already. As I said above, they have really moved away from a lot of things from the past run and the last look Strange had was a bit more fitting for a sorcerer if you ask me. Maybe a bit too spandex in some ways, but it did focus strongly on the things he could use rather than simply spellcasting. That aside, the color work from Java Tartaglia made a big difference. That at the very least kept the same atmosphere from the previous book consistent. Not as much fading away. but making that effort where it matters most to keep drawing that line between the supernatural plane and the human plane. The colors were bold and they popped which also made a big difference during the more action heavy scenes.
If you were on the fence about getting into this new run, then Dr. Strange #1 puts some of those reservations at ease. Overall it is a great concept, though at the expense of the very things that were a bit more thought-provoking about the run before. Hopefully this balance Stephen is trying to get out of being a doctor again will make it easier in overlooking what this takes away from our further exploration of the magic world.