Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, Blood Hunt takes over the Marvel Universe, as Doctor Strange #15 showcases the devastating consequences of Blood Hunt #1! What’s going on with Stephen Strange? Find out in our SPOILER-LITE review! Plus, jump on down to the Rapid Rundown for quick hits on Avengers #14, Fantastic Four #20, and Strange Academy: Blood Hunt #1!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Doctor Strange #15

Doctor Strange #15

Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Pasqual Ferry
Color Artist: Heather Moore
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

In our Best Marvel Books of 2023 list, I wrote that putting Pasqual Ferry on Doctor Strange was a no brainer. He’s been one of the best superhero artists for ages now. His line work is loose and rarely looks over thought out. When he has a great colorist, his work really soars. So anytime he draws an issue, it’s one of the best looking on the stands. So it shouldn’t be too shocking he draws a great issue here.

His portrayal of Blade here looks like Wesley Snipes without looking hyper realistic. You just know the reference he’s using. He draws a fun looking vampire Doctor Strange. The colors by Heather Moore really just compliments Ferry’s work and storytelling. There’s a lot of purple and green in this issue so when red pops up it’s really effective. This is a great looking book.

If you’re wondering why Blade turns Dr. Strange into a vampire, Jed MacKay picks up his plot from Blood Hunt #1 in this issue. Ferry gets to recreate the last two or three pages to open this issue. This issue reads like Blood Hunt #1.5. For anyone solely interested in Blood Hunt, sorry but you’re probably going to be read MacKay’s three monthly series during it.

One reason MacKay writes compellingly lies in his ability to resurrect quasi-ancient Marvel plots and characters in interesting ways that don’t overwhelm readers. Here it’s the semi-famous story by Roger Stern, Dan Green, and Steve Leiahola where Dr. Strange used a spell to kill every vampire in the Marvel Universe. Given the number of vampire centric Marvel crossovers over the last few decades, it’s hard imagining a time when there were no vampires in Marvel comics.

This story gets invoked to solve one dramatic issue for that event; why don’t Dr. Strange and Clea recreate the spell that killed every vampire? Well now you can’t use a spell that could potentially kill Dr. Strange, again. It raises the stakes for Blood Hunt. How do they destroy the vampires without destroying their own?

But this development also fits naturally into the current Doctor Strange run. MacKay writes a Strange and Clea very devoted to one another. Clea already saw her husband die not too long ago and seeing him be a vampire isn’t much better. And it’s entirely possible, MacKay will leave Strange a vampire afterwards. But if you’re not reading Blood Hunt, none of this seems too absurd for this book.

Honestly, even for a tie in this is a strong BUY thanks to compelling stakes and the art of Pasqual Ferry

Rapid Rundown!

  • The Avengers #14
    • After the events of Blood Hunt #1, Earth 616 needs a new set of Avengers to fend off the vampire hordes. Assembled before us is a seemingly random, but altogether uncomplimentary union of Marvel heroes, which itself is a narrative challenge to overcome their lack of cohesion, but another challenge to be interested in with so little chemistry. Aside from Steve Rogers calling up Hercules, Kate Bishop, Hazmat, and Quicksilver for some vampire removal, they are primed to face the most familiar vampire foe in Rogers Cap’s rogues gallery: Baron Blood! Now with literal nazi vampires! While writer Jed MacKay can use this Blood Hunt tie-in arc to thematically destroy fascism and its facades, I’d just wish the dialogue felt closer to the most popular characterizations of the new ad hoc Avengers. What’s saving this arc is the return of C.F. Villa who brings a signature brevity and fluidity to the action that works best for the premise. While I’m not into the internal monologues that air in this issue’s runtime, it’s rad as fuck that Cap puts one vamp in a bulldog choke while giving another a V Trigger or Katie Kate steering a SHIELD car with her foot! This would all feel like a slog if not for Villa and color artist Federico Blee who can divine the best paths to focus the composite color without sacrificing textural details [highlights, reflections, smoke, etc]! Blee brings a soft brightness to the buildings that helps what could otherwise be a muddy book! VC’s Cory Petit is on letters once again, but his neutral and best mode is Avengers house style with, you guessed it, local color appropriate colors to tie inner voice to Avenger. Classic stuff! Can’t wait to see more nazi vampire killing, but let’s wait and see if this team dynamic helps or hurts the action going forward! — BQ
  • Fantastic Four #20
    • Since his start as writer of Marvel’s first family, Ryan North has pulled the focus away from universal threats and cosmic space opera. Instead, the stories have been centered on the Fantastic Four as a family, exploring their dynamics and relationships. We’ve seen them reconnect and learn new ways of using their powers together as they become a more cohesive unit through a series of one-shot stories that are consistently offbeat, often funny, and occasionally moving. This issue features Human Torch and The Thing trying to live ordinary lives and pitch in around the house now that their fortunes are tied up in legal trouble. This is straight comedy and artist Carlos Gomez delivers with fantastic faces and reactions. Gomez’s art has been much better suited for North’s quirky writing, with a more cartoony and rubbery style than the previous artist’s much more action oriented lines. While there are a few good laughs, this issue is one of the weaker stories of the bunch, though it continues to feel like North is building to something that will test these newfound relationships, and I’m eager to see how these individual stories all tie together. This remains a delightful book, and any issue is an easy access point to jump into the adventures.  Jesus Aburtov and Fer Sifuentes-Sujo’s colors give a bright and zany kick to the mundane grocery store surroundings. VC’s Joe Caramagna remains one of Marvel’s unsung heroes, making the dialogue and sounds come to life with his letters and elevating all the elements. —TR
  • Strange Academy: Blood Hunt #1
    • Marvel’s other school for gifted youngsters jumps into the action of this month’s Blood Hunt event. Star Wars: High Republic alum Daniel José Older writes a trio of stories starring Doctor Strange’s sorcerer students and the high “stakes” they face against the Vampires. I’ve been a fan of both the Strange Academy and Older’s work for some time, his naturalistic dialogue and pacing are a perfect fit for the SA kids, hopefully, this is a backdoor rehearsal for him to take over the title. Older is joined by a talented lineup of artists Luigi Zagaria on the main story with Eric Gapstur & Scott Hanna, and Eric Gapstur on the ancillary stories. And here’s your SPOILER WARNING if you haven’t read Blood Hunt #1. The world has been plunged into darkness allowing legions of Vampires led by Blade to attack. The main Avengers team has been crippled and Doctor Strange has been stabbed in the back leaving the Academy students to think it’s a good idea to complete Strange’s desperate plan to wipe out all vampires. The backup stories deal with new characters that are very important to the plot of this event. This book has fun lighthearted scenes to balance the horror of the Vampire’s plan. —GC3

Next Week: DOOM!

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