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The Marvel Rundown: THE DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE #1 defies & exceeds expectations

Reviews of this week's new and notable Marvel Comics releases, including The Death of Doctor Strange #1, X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1, and more!

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This week, the final fate of the Sorcerer Supreme begins with The Death of Doctor Strange #1! The series promises to set a course for the future of magic in the Marvel Universe — does the debut of the series set things up effectively?

We’ve got a review of The Death of Doctor Strange #1, plus a Rapid Rundown of other notable new Marvel releases, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!


The Death of Doctor Strange #1

The Death of Doctor Strange #1

Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell

The Death of Doctor Strange follows in the footsteps of previous comic events like Batman R.I.P. and The Death of Superman by doing away with pretense and just saying what it is on the tin. Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, is dead. When calling your shot like this, there’s an expectation that there has to be SOME twist, and while Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett do deliver a few surprises, the most pleasant one is that it’s just a dang good comic and a strong start to a smaller-scale crossover event.

Wisely, the issue serves as a perfect jumping-on point for new readers and introduces Strange’s current status quo as both a surgeon and headmaster of Strange Academy while telling an entertaining, hectic average day in his life. Jed MacKay’s greatest strength as a writer is his grasp of snappy, character-filled dialogue and that skill is put to good use here. Strange is a character who can often find himself in a difficult position of either feeling obnoxious to read due to overly formal, flowery language or feeling like his natural voice is missing if written like any other snarky Marvel hero. MacKay’s Strange threads the needle beautifully, feeling every inch the wise, mysterious sorcerer while remaining a fun and delightful lead even in the face of his tragic end.

From The Death of Doctor Strange #1

Garbett’s line-work has always been just dependable as a rock and is sharp as ever, with both the subject matter and Antonio Fabela‘s color palette choices making the issue feel reminiscent of his work on Loki: Agent of Asgard in a very satisfying way. Garbett also makes the most of the issue’s event status and has a ton of fun with the various guest stars, most notably a delightful scene with Magik. MacKay already wrote the character in a memorable guest appearance in Wolverine: Black, White & Blood and proves he’s got a great grasp of the character here. Her and Stephen’s run-in with a gang of child-hungry demons in old-timey baseball uniforms is the funniest moment in the whole thing and a nice bit of comedy given the heavy nature of the tale.

The titular, inevitable, death of Doctor Strange is, thankfully, the best moment of the entire issue and justifies the event on its own. Stephen Strange is, often rightfully, considered a bitter and arrogant man even after his mystical enlightenment and while that can be a compelling well of storytelling, MacKay’s swerve into the healthy and heartbreaking pays off in a big way. This is not the Doctor Strange who plays games with the fates of worlds or regards the mundane world as beneath his interest. This is a busy, fulfilled, man who has lived a long life filled with both regrets and close, powerful relationships. Which makes his lonely, painful death at the hands of an unseen assailant genuinely tragic. 

From The Death of Doctor Strange #1

I was skeptical of Death of Doctor Strange when it was announced. Not for lack of talent in its creative team, MacKay is one of Marvel’s best writers right now and Garbett provided the artistic backbone for one of my all-time favorite comic runs. But for the often unsatisfying, shock-and-awe focused nature of Comic Book Death storylines. If Death of Doctor Strange #1 is any indication, thankfully, this event will not only defy expectations but also land as one of the better stories told in the magical corner of the Marvel Universe in the last several years. 

Final Verdict: BUY.

From The Death of Doctor Strange #1

Rapid Rundown!

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #18
    • “The Last Annihilation” was an event I was late on picking up because of my event fatigue, and I will have to correct that error in judgment. This issue is the final battle for the fate of the galaxy as the Guardians, their various allies, and Dr. Doom launch an all-out, last-ditch plan to stop Dormammu and his army of Mindless Ones. Writer Al Ewing and artist Juan Frigeri craft a quiet cosmic classic as Rocket Raccoon and Dr. Doom execute their over-the-top scheme for stopping Dormammu, and it ain’t sticking him in a time loop. There are also some nice character moments with the team that make me want to go back and take a pass at this run. This issue also does some more spotlighting on Doom and his ever-increasing presence throughout the Marvel Universe, which is definitely something to keep a watch on. —GC3
  • Moon Knight #3
    • Three issues in and this has been a pretty neat story. Jed MacKay’s plot feels unlike any recent Moon Knight story I’ve read, and still manages to surprise me when I think I have things figured out. It’s quite violent and subversive, and is brought to spectacular life with Alessandro Cappuccio’s amazing, fluid artwork. Moon Knight’s new nemesis stands in stark contrast to his new mission and I’m very curious to see where things go from here. —HW
  • Reptil #4
    • In the fourth issue of Reptil, Humberto’s family continues to be a highlight, with both his grandfather and his cousins playing key thematic roles… Not to mention the return of Enrique the Taco Stall Guy! Meanwhile, the SoCal setting continues to have a meaningful effect on the narrative (and it’s always nice to see another Marvel comic set on the Best Coast). This issue continues the solid writing you’ve come to expect from Terry Blas as well as the solid art from Enid BalámVictor Olazaba, and Carlos Lopez (especially when it comes to the issue’s critical costumes and the necessary dinosaur element, with a full-page pterosaur splash being especially impressive), bringing the series to a satisfying (if way too early) conclusion. PLUS: special shout-out for a comic that recognizes the importance of having a dress with pockets! —AJK
  • X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1
    • The storyline kicked off in the five-issue Way of X series reaches its conclusion, and sets up what’s next for Nightcrawler and chums. Onslaught is a character I typically associate with giant, world-shattering stories, and while the scope of the creature’s plan here is indeed fairly large, the way in which it’s defeated is pleasantly small and personal. Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, and co. tell an exciting, character-driven story that naturally resolves the issues Nightcrawler has been working through, giving him a new mission and adding yet another interesting new layer to the world of the X-Men. JG

Next week: Krakoa goes up in flames with the debut of Inferno!

1 COMMENT

  1. Another non-event. Marvel is very conscious of the Marvel movies and doesn’t want to go against the expectations of the Marvel movie fans who then pick up Marvel comics. Doctor Strange is in the new Spider-Man movie and also in his own sequel film in the near future. John Byrne has been drawing his own on-line only X-Men comic for some time and when he tried to make a deal with Marvel to publish it they said that his version of Magneto (basically the original version as established in the 60s & 70s) goes against the movie version and they couldn’t allow that so the negotiations fell apart. Doctor Strange isn’t dead any more than Captain America was dead when Marvel used that to get a lot of free publicity in the mainstream press.

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