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Busy, Even in Retirement

January 11, 2010

After he passed the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme to Brother Voodoo (now Dr. Voodoo), Dr. Strange, now just Strange (though he still is a medical doctor) went off to find himself, after being corrupted by so much dark magic use.  He goes to a baseball game, since he loved them when he was a kid, only to find that the visiting team has been possessed by demons as a result of a contract the previous owner of the field had made with a demon named Tul’uth.  With the aid of a young girl named Casey Kinmont, Strange manages to defeat Tul’uth in the baseball game, sealing him inside the baseball as per the terms of the contract, though at the cost of Casey’s grandfather.  Strange leaves, but Casey, having learned a teleportation spell from him, practices it incessantly, using it to thwart her relatives’ attempts at moving into her grandfather’s house.  Strange also enchanted her glasses with a spell of true-seeing, allowing her to see the true nature of everyone around her, humans and demons alike.  She is almost eaten by a demon who has tricked her, but Strange shows up to save her.  However, the spell she has been using teleports the items to another dimension, and the resident of that dimension is rather angry, since Strange had promised not to use the spell again.  By reminding the demon, Baroshtok, that Casey is just a child who means well, Strange gets Casey out of trouble and takes her off to tutor her.

I normally like Mark Waid’s work.  His run on Fantastic Four was one of my absolute runs in comic book history.  But this, this isn’t so good.  Because he seems to think that Dr. Strange is a completely unrelatable character, he seems to feel the need to add various things to his personality, like that he likes baseball.  For me, Strange was interesting because he was so detached and yet not, as evidenced by his relationships with characters like Wong, Clea, and the Night Nurse.  He seemed apart from humanity, but every so often, we were reminded how much he cares about other people (see Brian K. Vaughan’s Dr. Strange: The Oath, a superb Dr. Strange story).  Here, he gets a random, almost Mary Sue-ish apprentice who isn’t at the least bit interesting.  Instead of this miniseries being an exploration of him as a character and everything he’s done, it’s an attempt to endear him to new readers by making him… not Dr. Strange.  So as someone who’s been a fan of him for a long time, I’m very disappointed.  And Emma Rios’ work just supports the idea that Waid is trying to change Strange’s image.  All her art is very kid-like with strong manga influences, looking much like Miyazawa Takeshi’s work.  Her demons look cool, but Dr. Strange looks way too young.  Personally, unless the next two issues totally change in tone, I’ve got nothing to look forward to with this miniseries.  I want the Dr. Strange that Stan Lee and Vaughan wrote, not, as Waid himself says, the “Dr. Who” Strange.

Plot: 5.1      Art: 6.3      Dialogue: 5.9      Overall: 5.3

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