This week, Marvel’s supply chain woes make for a light offering of only seven new releases from the House of Ideas. Luckily there’s still plenty to talk about, including the ongoing investigation of the murder of Marvel’s sorcerer supreme! Who can help solve the mystery but Doctor Strange himself? But…isn’t he dead?
We’ve got a review of The Death of Doctor Strange #2, along with your weekly Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel releases, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!
The Death of Doctor Strange #2
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell
Death of Doctor Strange #2 picks up immediately where the first issue left off, with Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme dead on the floor of his own home as Doctor Strange, Master of Black Magic makes his surprise arrival. Confused? You’re not the only one. The time-displaced fragment of Stephen Strange is both the most prominent and most entertaining part of this sophomore effort from Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett, which feels a bit slight despite of how much fun I had with it.
As we quickly learn, the newly-arrived Doctor Strange is from some of the earliest days in Stephen’s heroic career, a liver of 7 days to allow this New-Old Strange to put his affairs in order after an unexpected demise. Rather than do a simple Silver Age riff, MacKay writes this man-out-of-time Stephen with an overly formal, slightly dated flair that makes him stand out from the rest of the cast without feeling like he came from an entirely different universe. The best bits come from his interactions with folks like Clea and Mordo who have a long, messy history with Strange that this Stephen absolutely does NOT recall even a little bit. Captain America’s complete resignation at the magic mess of it all upon learning the deal with this Stephen is also a genuinely hilarious bright spot.
The other focus of the issue, forming the entire back half, is the arrival of the event’s new villains: The Three Mothers. The Wyrd, The Crown, and The Crawling are all mysterious, and genuinely unsettling, new denizens of the magical corner of the MU let loose by the death of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. All three Mothers have wonderful designs by Garbett (I truly hate how effective The Crawling’s “body made of writhing worms with the face of a statue” design is and grossing me the hell out) and feel like big deals. Unfortunately, so much effort is spent in preserving the mystery behind them and their unseen child that they don’t feel as substantive as I would hope and largely serve to squeeze in an extended action scene with the Avengers.
The debut of Death of Doctor Strange genuinely impressed me! MacKay and Garbett are two personal favorites but beyond that they injected a sense of energy and emotional satisfaction to a story that is facing the ultimate uphill climb from its very title. While certainly not bad, the second issue didn’t land with quite the same impact. A bit of water treading and setting up all the pieces for the rest of the story, it very much feels like a necessary piece of the whole that will be less noticeable as a misstep when read as part of a whole. Hopefully #3 manages to make the best of the stage setting done here and bring things back to the outstanding level of the first issue.
Final Verdict: Browse.
- Fantastic Four #37
- The FF have been through a lot recently, and with news of the big Reckoning War coming their way early next year, it looks like Dan Slott will be doing a couple of one-and-dones until then. We’ve got a solid Halloween story with artist Nico Leon this month, showcasing the first Halloween for the Grimm family as well as some more Doom cosmic ray fallout with Johnny, which is honestly wrecking my heart the more I see him? This was a fun little tale about family and friends; there have been plenty of ups and downs in this run (with some really… down downs) but this was a great time. You’d do well to honestly just pick this up even if you haven’t read the series before. —HW
- Thor #18
- Mjolnir has been stolen from Avengers Mountain, and with his duties of being King, Thor must turn to another for help finding his lost hammer. Since he’s on the cover you already know it’s the Frog of Thunder, the Might Throg. Joining regular writer Donny Cates are guest artists Pasqual Ferry and Bob Quinn for this interesting twist on the hero’s journey. Being a fan of Ferry’s light and energetic art is a plus as it’s a perfect accompaniment to this adorable departure from the grim storyline that has been dominating our favorite Thunder God. If you enjoy stories about teams assembling, you’ll really dig this as Throg puts together a team of Marvel’s highest-profile animals to help find Mjolnir in this light-hearted tale.—GC3
- The United States of Captain America #5
- When Knox Jennings, an outraged, screaming news anchor, says, “And these other people putting on cheap costumes and making chintzy shields… they’re not even Captain America,” does that constitute an ouroboros of life/art imitation? At the heart of the main story is a nationalism-based mass hypnosis plot that offers a thematic counterbalance to the way the Captains use symbolism for good. The climactic two-page splash is a potent reminder that maintaining an idea like “America” is the work of many people, not one individual… and it’s necessary work, lest it instead fall into the hands of demagogues (whether they’re dressed in hoods or cable newsroom suits-and-ties). It’s a shame that most of the conversation about this book came from pundits who never actually touched the comic, particularly since the ambitious, many-creator’d project works best when you look at it as a whole. Five issues is a good length for this series, and I suspect it will read well as a TPB. And be sure and check the letters page of this issue for a Rabbi-written couplet that pays homage to the titular Captains. —AJK
Next week, a new era begins for Venom!