Strange #1 review

Stephen Strange is dead and his estranged wife Clea is back from the Dark Dimension to ensure ‘ours’ has a Sorcerer Supreme. One man, though, doesn’t believe the position was in Dr Strange’s gift.

Dr Doom doesn’t take well to Clea’s refusal to give up her seals of office. He underestimates her.

Stephen Strange was a mortal who learned magic. Victor Von Doom too. Clea, though, is magic – daughter of Umar the Unmentionable, niece of the Dread Dormammu. She doesn’t have to do deals with otherworldly deities to access power. And when she channels the energies that are her birthright, the sweet, gentle Clea shows another aspect altogether.

Changing a terrorist into a butterfly isn’t as far as she goes. Clea killing her foes comes a little too easily for Sanctum Sanctorum major domo Wong…

To find out what he has to say, read this cracker of a debut issue. You’ll also see what the masked man and his partners were attacking, learn why Clea plans a series of meetings with members of the New York superhero community and find out which mildly missed Marvel character is unearthed.

Writer Jed MacKay, who penned the recent Death of Dr Strange mini-series, is back for this (presumed) ongoing, and he does a fine job setting up the initial storyline. He’s adding texture to Clea, reinforcing the good work done with Wong over the last few years, and introducing new environments. As a longterm Clea fan, I’m thrilled to see her get a turn as a headliner, love seeing her put Doom in his place but a little fearful that her passions will lead to big, big trouble.

Mind, that should be entertaining too, MacKay obviously has a cunning plan.

And if Clea can get her original Steve Ditko hair back…

Strange penciller Marcelo Ferreira, with inkers Don Ho and Roberto Poggi, would likely have loads of fun with the up, down and every blooming direction-do. Meanwhile, they’re obviously enjoying drawing Clea, who looks great whether she’s in hubby’s superhero duds, Dark Dimension Dior or using the Cloak of Levitation as a dressing gown. I think the artists are still finding their version of Clea’s regular face, but when she goes the full ‘warlord’ our heroine looks ruddy amazing. Properly imperious.

Ferreira, Ho and Poggi also deserve credit for their evocation of Greenwich Village, which teems with life. And the opening scene – the book starts in media res, but I’ve decided not to spoil it as it fits at issue’s end – look amazing, it’s a real grabber.

The illustrations are complemented by the colours of Jana Tartaglia and Felipe Sobreiro, who handle the mystical moments as well as they do the more mundane. Tartaglia and Sobreiro really shine when they’re lighting Strange the Sorceress.

Cory Petit’s font choices work for characters and situations, and there are some useful thick word balloons… you’ll see what I mean.

The cover by Bjorn Barends is stunning, and I wonder if that…thing behind Clea will prove to be story specific. It make me think of a skeletal Living Tribunal.

All in all, this is a rock solid first issue, with a pleasing mix of story and art, and bags of potential.

Stephen who?

2 thoughts on “Strange #1 review

  1. Jed MacKay’s Black Cat surprised me when I honestly looked at my favorites from the year the first volume started and realized it was one of my top five. He’s showing the same talent here but also showing he can write characters besides Felicia. I love also that MacKay and Marvel have left behind that nonsense that Strange being romantically involved with Clea as he taught her our dimension’s magic made him a skeeve towards woman. (It was Fraction who also temporarily shaved IQ points off Clint Barton that started it). The relationship was before the lessons and at its height it was a wonderful relationship.

    The art soared too, bringing life to MacKay’s work appropriately and with pizzazz. I do kinda wish we had Bendis’ Wong though. Classic Wong is just so dull and basically a trope. Maybe Mark Waid could do a Wong mini! The man excels at adding things to a mythos decades old that become foundational to writers that succeed him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I’d peg this as classic Wong, he wasn’t horrible subservient to Clea. But you’ve read more modern Dr Strange than have I, so be comparison, perhaps this is a disappointing portrayal.

      I really must get round to reading some Black Cat!


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