Strange Academy #10 Review

by Charles Martin on May 05, 2021

Strange Academy #10 Review
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colourist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Zelma corrals the Strange Academy students onto a (non-)magic school bus for a field trip. Off to Asgard!

The trip (and Asgard itself, really) serves as a fun background for teen character work in this issue. Even before the bus arrives, Skottie Young focuses the dialogue to make it clear that this chapter is all about Emily and Doyle and Iric.

Once they get to Asgard, VOLSTAGG arrives for tour guide duty. He concentrates mainly on showing off the realm's culinary delights, because he's VOLSTAGG. Most of the students are tied up in a nice comedic banquet while our core kids sneak off to receive deeper characterization.

I appreciate that this issue flips the script on the Emily-Doyle-Iric love triangle, focusing on the Asgardian spoiler ahead of the characters we're rooting for. We learn important things about Iric's background here. (Sorry, no spoilers!)

But Mr. Young doesn't neglect the other contender for Emily's interest. Doyle gets a superb chance to hamstring Iric. What he does with that chance becomes a superb moment of character development, a real triumph of "show don't tell" writing. 

That great demonstrative moment leads straight into fireworks for Doyle and Emily, making them feel fully earned and practically demanding that the reader stand up and cheer for the flame-headed kid. 

On the other side of the characterization scale, though, Mr. Young's script goes a little too far with Shaylee, who engages in less-serious romantic shenanigans with Toth. It's obviously constructed as a counterpoint to the main event, but the effervescent half-fairy risks coming off as saccharine (if not downright annoying).

Visually, this title continues to be Humberto Ramos's playground, and it's still a delight to watch him exercise himself. He fills many panels almost to bursting with dynamic figures and background details, but others are blocked with refreshing open space around the characters.

Edgar Delgado strives to deliver strong colours while preserving the artist's delicate pencil work. The riot of different hues is sometimes overwhelming, particularly in the banquet scenes. But Mr. Delgado succeeds wildly with the World Tree scenes in the second half. There, he uses wise contrasts (subtle, modulated colour changes, rather than harsh differences) to break the vibrant characters out of the woody backgrounds. 

10 issues deep in this title, it's become clear that the main attractions are the relationships between the students -- not the classwork, not the teachers, not the supernatural threats. Yes, Strange Academy includes those elements, but they're not the point. It's all about the kids, how they connect and conflict. 

This comic succeeds or fails based on how successful the creators have been making these young characters endearing to the reader. Of course, it's not possible to guarantee that such efforts will succeed with every reader. In my subjective opinion (informed as it is by reading entirely too many comics), you couldn't reasonably ask any creative team to do more than this one has. They launched a huge cast of all-new characters, and while not all of them have broken out, they've succeeded in building some great relationships that are worth caring about.

Strange Academy #10 takes the student body to Asgard. Plenty of fun shenanigans ensue, but they're background texture for the dramatic and romantic developments entangling the core characters. This issue relies on reader engagement to make its characterization compelling, but past issues have done plenty to encourage that engagement. Come into this comic with an established interest in these kids, and you'll be delighted with where it takes you.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
My review copy lacked a proper title page, so I apologize if I've messed up the credits.