Strange Academy #4 Review

by Charles Martin on October 28, 2020

Strange Academy #4 Review
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colourist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's just another typical day at Strange Academy. Half of the students help Zelma re-shelve magical books while the other half play cross-dimensional "door tag." Thanks to demonic attacks and the dangers of places like Weirdworld, both options carry a significant amount of deadly risk.

Although this is an action-heavy chapter, Skottie Young's script makes space for some significant plot and character developments. We get a quick but informative look at the big-picture antagonists menacing the school. Emily makes a friend in Weirdworld. And Dessy's prying reveals Zoe's big secret to us.

So plenty is going on in this issue. Busy-ness is the overriding tone of the comic, with a brisk pace whisking the reader speedily from scene to scene.

The art team is on board with this breathless race, using dynamic panels to illustrate the action and chaining them together with a smooth, logical flow. At a few points, Humberto Ramos's faces grow questionable, but there are also expressive and exciting panels that are worth pausing to examine closely.

Colourist Edgar Delgado delivers a high-contrast palette with heavy shadows and vibrant highlights. His colours do contribute to some of the smudged panels -- a lack of white in the eyes becomes problematic. But Mr. Delgado does impressive work with the dimensions the tag-playing students visit, particularly Weirdworld.

This is, above all else, a "middle chapter" issue. It evolves the existing storylines and characters without introducing many new concepts. (The antagonists are the big exception and they look poised to get into direct conflict with the students in #5.) 

I have no problem with this series giving its characters some breathing room. It's got a big, all-new cast, and we need time to get to know them all. I think this issue sets an excellent balance between forward motion and pausing to dwell on its characters.

Previous issues in this series did an excellent job of making the Academy's student body appealing. Now the creators are confidently playing on that appeal, letting the story touch organically on some of their cast without dividing the spotlight to give everyone a share.

The Strange Academy students handle book-shelving (which involves more demon-fighting than at your average school) and high-stakes cross-dimension tag. And bubbling antagonism swells up to confront them soon. This is a compelling mid-arc issue that clicks the story through some sensible developments while also giving some of the cast members chances to shine.

Our Score:


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Tick the box for the obligatory Spider-Man cameo; Strange Academy is a real Marvel comic now!