Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange #11
While I was not overly impressed with the extra things they stuffed into the big issue of Doctor Strange last month for the sake of a quick buck, the main storyline was exactly what was needed when it was about time we really learned what had gone wrong with the state of magic on Earth. Magic coming with a price has been the long-running message sent in this series currently. It made sense that magic has to have a cost, and that there can be consequences when it is not paid. Not even the Sorcerer Supreme is above having a limit to as he calls it, the punches he can throw.
The involvement of Dormammu was a disappointment for me at first since he is a recycled villain for Doctor Strange, but I could overlook that this time around since he was the perfect being to represent what happens when those who demand payment come knocking. His intentions may be personal, though it doesn’t change the fact that someone was going to come to Strange and he may as well have taken that opportunity. I enjoyed their confrontation this time around because it wasn’t your ordinary encounter with this arch-nemesis. Much more was at stake this time around and it showed through the way that she two engaged with each other as if the only option was to succeed. For Dormammu in particular his dialogue wasn’t cliche either. There was a lot more to him that at the same time was welcoming to those who maybe haven’t seen the guy in a long time or just aren’t very familiar with him. Credit where it is due that he has only really had one other appearance in the past year or so which came and went pretty fast.
For Doctor Strange this was a good moment for him since a lot was riding on his writing making him break character. By that I mean stepping out of his old habits that would usually cause him more trouble than usual. That was what I was looking forward to and was satisfied with the result. Nothing is better than seeing a creature of habit step outside of his comfort zone to do something that doesn’t put the weight of the world on his shoulders. You know, the kind that makes me do foolish things that ultimately abuse magic in some way that ultimately leads to situations such as the one he is in now?
How Strange and company fought back wad the highlight of this issue. Nothing is more fun than seeing magic used in more creative and unique ways than the norm. This was probably one of the most exciting series of scenes we have gotten out of this book since Strange made it back to Earth. What is magic if you have been there and done that? Using Zelma, Kanna, and Wong the way he did kept things interesting since magic means different things to each one of them. Zelma in particular surprised me, even though her change in the end was only temporary. That could have disappointed me in the moment, but it was the change in direction for her story that followed which made all the difference. To even see Wong get in on some of the action was important. This might be Doctor Strange’s story, but he is only as appealing as the supporting cast around him. To that extent I do believe Mark Waid did these characters as a whole justice through the climax of this arc.
The interior work for this issue was excellent as usual. The way that Jesus Saiz draws Dormammu is probably the best he has looked in a long time. It helps having someone who can produce a smooth rendering of characters, and took things a step further with the other Faltine who even carried a bit more of an armored look than he did. It also goes without saying that the mix of uniformity between them and ability to draw a number of them intimidatingly stomping over buildings was very appealing. To bring it all together is the organic approach to the way that these beings’ heads light up on fire. It takes some patience and effort to light a head on fire without sacrificing any of the detail in the face. Visually the highlight of this issue was also how Zelma, Kanna, and Wong were captured on the offensive. It was a wonderful image to put in your head of what it looks like when each are in their element and applying magic to it. There wasn’t just a bunch of blasting and sigils thrown everywhere. There was actual creativity put into what each character brought to the table. The color work overall was commendable for the dark colors used to create the atmosphere of this chapter. Natural colors in the sky, proper lighting from the burning buildings and Faltines, and much more stood out to consistently aid in setting the scene.
Doctor Strange #11 brought this story arc to a close in the most spectacular of ways for the Sorcerer Supreme and friends. Strange is only at his best when he is aware of his own shortcomings as a person, and he is only as strong as the people he chooses to surround himself with. I’m glad that this chapter in his life was as much a personal journey as it was action-packed and fantastical.