Dr. Strange #2 Review

by Jay Hill on January 30, 2020

Story told by: Mark Waid & Kev Walker
Colors by: Java Tartaglia
Lettered by: Cory Petit
Published by: Marvel Comics

Stephen Strange is back to take on mysteries both medical and mystic. The last issue left him chained up and possibly sinking to a watery grave. Now the Sorcerer/Surgeon Supreme will need to become a master of escape.

After wrapping up the last issue’s cliffhanger, the book continues on its way exploring what tools Strange is implementing in this new journey in his life. Or rather, what tools he is creating, since Strange has designed a new base of operations. In addition to his Sanctum Sanctorum, he’s created a forge where he can craft artifacts and weapons; he calls it his Sanctum Machina. This displays the determination Strange has to do everything in his power as Sorcerer Supreme. It also may be another sign of him overextending himself. The conclusion of this issue leaves a hint that this new base may be leaving him open for others to capitalize on. But, the Sanctum Machina does prove helpful in this issue when Strange is able to forge a counter to the Wrecker’s newly enhanced mystic crowbar. The issue is paced nicely. Before the showdown, we’re shown some developments at Strange’s “day job” that adds questions and sparks curiosity. Along with a scene with Strange’s assistant, Kermit. Last issue we were shown that Kermit is a “fanboy” of super-heroics and he added a nice bit of humor to this issue. Like the last chapter, the end of this one is dedicated to the action; I like that feeling of structure. Dr. Strange, now knowing what to anticipate, fights the Wrecker with a more realized game plan. That “back to the drawing board” moment gave this fight more substance. During the fight, because of the reality-bending nature of Wrecker’s weapon, there is a cool scene of alternate versions of Strange being affected by the fight. I wish that part of the fight could have lasted longer or had more impact than it seemed to have, but just the fact that it happened is cool enough. The climax of the fight was reasonable, but the questions that arise from it add to the ongoing mystery. This issue retains the best parts of the debut. The defined personality of Strange, his undying ambition to “do good”, and this new dynamic he’s created for himself are what is keeping this narrative feeling fresh. With all-around good storytelling, the only thing I feel is missing from this story is a definitive “tone”. Other than feeling more grounded, I’d love to see the grander idea(s) of the tale become more apparent. But perhaps this is a comic that’s going to be a slow burn. As long as it stays entertaining and well-paced, I’ll keep reading.

A very distinct environment has been captured with the art. The style has a signature shape and definition which makes it feel like the world of this comic is uniquely its own. The writing doesn’t control the palpable atmosphere the way the design of the book does. And the art also has a quality to it that sometimes feels like two separate styles. When Kev Walker is illustrating more domestic or normal scenes, mostly in the hospital, the art has bold and shapely lines that give a lot of detail and feels airy. This is when the most room for Java Tartaglia's colors is left. The use of color, especially green, in the scene with Strange and Ludgate showed off the skill of Tartaglia and the subtlety of the palette. Then in the darker or more action-packed scenes, Walker's shadows are significant, and grungy, jagged lines are used. This is when the colors peak from the shadows and are maybe more impressive when it’s noticed how expressive the shading on the hues can be. The illustrating of rubble and pebbles also start to become apparent in the more chaotic scenes. All the elements of the art keep this book looking inspired. I’d love to see if there’s a way for the writing to create scenes that highlight this style or show scenes that can seemingly only be done in this style. I’m not sure what that would be, but I’d like to think I’d notice it if it was to happen. I know that the Wrecker and Strange suited up (I like the apothecary satchel he has, very fantasy feeling) are great designs that fit and highlight the style, but that just seems to be the display of how Walker knew what elements his style executes best.

The balancing act continues by Dr. Strange. On one hand, he holds the health of any patient he chooses to operate on and on the other he holds the safety of reality as a whole. But, he is still in control. However, this issue inches dangers from the shadows and closer to our hero. The story seems on a stable track to stay entertaining, but its main themes have yet to really flourish, leaving room for this story to go in any direction.

Our Score:


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