Doctor Strange Annual #1 Review

by Jay Hill on October 30, 2019

Written by: Tini Howard, Pornsak Pichetshote
Art by: Andy MacDonald, Lalit Kumar Sharma & Sean Parsons
Colors by: Triona Farrell, José Villarrubia
Lettered by: Cory Petit
Published by: Marvel Comics

'Tis the season to be spooky. And the Sorcerer Supreme is at work protecting the realm from the supernatural threats from beyond. The idea of Halloween being the day in which the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical are at their weakest is an interesting concept. It could have brought in any number of stories, but what we get is an isolated story of Dr. Strange and a cast of other Marvel sorcerers holding down the Sanctum Sanctorum throughout the night.

The action scenes are engaging, even if at times they do feel a little unnecessary. However, one of the threats the heroes face on this night, while still being dangerous, has an explanation that is funny and gives it more reason for being. Tini Howard can write a story that feels small, but big at the same time. She is able to keep it interesting without adding a gigantic world-ending threat. The writing for Zelma is great and gives the readers someone to hang on to when all the other characters feel “out there”. The end is when the story wraps up its contents with a nice little bow creating a Halloween party fitting for the surname of the title character.

Artist Andy MacDonald is terrific. My goodness, this a fun comic to look at. It has a light pencil style, but the detail is incredible. So many scenes are taken to another level with the way they’re displayed. And colorist Tríona Farrel’s almost rustic feeling palate lends to the story, giving it the feeling of autumn. She also uses primary colors to interesting effects.

The second story “Treat” is aptly named, since it is what I got the most enjoyment out of. The horror elements of it contrast with the ending of the first story, bringing you back to the threats Dr. Strange faces; even if he isn’t in this story. In a few pages, it builds a dark atmosphere and narrative that gets more engrossing with each page. The end then seems to add an element that may come into play in next month's new Dr. Strange title. The art has an old Ditko feel to it, which is appropriate for the title. It is creepy and brutal at points.

All in all, the annual gives you a taste of everything you would expect from a Dr. Strange title. It brings supernatural action, a feeling of horror, but also has a heart-warming aspect that may not have been expected. And the second story is a highlight and could be implying what the future holds for the Master of the Mystic Arts.

Our Score:


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