Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange #382
Stephen Strange is having a bad day. That’s the core of “Doctor Strange” #382 and that’s what leads to one of the more surprising final pages of the year. In just two short issues, the new creative team of Donny Cates, Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire have put their stamp on the legacy of Doctor Strange. This issue is funny, poignant, personal and continues us to the eventual throwdown between Strange and Loki.
“Doctor Strange” #382 basically picks up where the last issue left us. Loki is the new Sorcerer Supreme and Stephen Strange is working as a veterinarian. Loki, because of his God status, doesn’t have to pay the same prices for using magic that others do and he’s taken advantage of this as much as he can. Currently, he wants to find and harness a spell called The Exile of Singhsoon. This spell siphons all of the magic out of the world and places it under the summoner’s power. It’s like an on/off switch at its most basic level. Stephen finds this out thanks to his best dog pal Bats, who’s been spying on Loki for him. Stephen realizes that Loki is closer to the spell than Loki realizes and goes with Bats to confront him. What follows is a very bad day for Stephen Strange that brings him to a very drastic action that will have huge repercussions for Loki, Asgard and the entire Marvel Universe.
What I’ve liked so much about these two issues in this run so far, and particularly in this issue is how balanced the script is. Superhero comics at the Big Two can often times become too serious and self important. A healthy sense of humor is good to have but you also need to know how to use that. Cates knows how to give “Doctor Strange” a sense of humor in the right places. Bats and Stephen’s interactions are light and fun. The scene in the examination room when Bats barges in talking is hilarious and doesn’t take away from the drama that unfolds later. In fact, it’s the opposite as it plays into what happens later in the issue. At the center of this is the very personal fight between Strange and Loki. Loki has taken everything from Strange and while he seemed to be accepting of it, he’s pushed to a breaking point in this issue. Strange brings someone back into the fold that will now push Loki to the brink again and I think this action is really interesting to look at more. For the sake of not spoiling the entire issue (my point here is that it’s great and you SHOULD read it) I’ll say this, Stephen Strange clearly feels backed into a corner. He has lost everything and he sees that Loki is trying to harness something incredibly dangerous that he shouldn’t have. Strange is used to having power and this is his way of grabbing it back. It’s a selfish decision that he clearly means to wound Loki with so I’m eager to see this play out. I cannot overstate this enough – it’s about to go down big time in this series.
I was a huge fan of Walta’s work on “The Vision” and his style fits perfectly with the magic infused “Doctor Strange.” I really love the way he draws this version of a powerless Stephen Strange. There’s something so normal about him now. His shorter hair, his very normal sweater. It’s all so different than what we’re used to from this character. In this design, there is something very lost about him. Despite a put together exterior, it isn’t really him so it feels sad. Loki on the other hand reeks of power madness. He looks like the God of Mischief but as he becomes more obsessed with this spell, Walta leans into making him look a little more mad. The panel layouts and the movement in each panels makes Strange’s quest to confront Loki feel more urgent and determined. Jordie Bellaire’s color work is excellent. She does a lot here with Walta that she did with him on “The Vision”. She uses a lot of earthy tones and it acts as a great contrast to when the magical stuff comes in.
“Doctor Strange” #382 is an issue that perfectly illustrates just how desperate Strange has become. He’s lost and he knows it. He has no power left and takes drastic action that’s going to really impact the Marvel Universe going forward. Walta and Bellaire continue to work together wonderfully and honestly, this is not a series you’ll want to ignore for much longer.