Dr. Strange #1 Review

by Jay Hill on December 26, 2019

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

Dr. Stephen Strange M.D., Master of the Mystic Arts, has regained the use of his hands. They were once the pride of his world, but that pride is what cost him. After years of growing into the hero he now is, he is given a chance to return to his original profession; the Sorcerer Supreme is now the Surgeon Supreme in Dr. Strange #1.

Right off the bat, we are shown the new balancing act Strange must perform. He is burning himself at both ends, protecting reality from mystical threats and saving his patients from harmful illnesses. Mark Waid explains the delicate system that Strange juggles to assure that he does the utmost in both fields while also keeping them separated to avoid a collision that would harm them equally; that part is written wonderfully and makes it immediately interesting to see what troubles could arise to disrupt that perfect harmony. This version of Dr. Strange has a sense of maturity about him that plays well with the hints of the person he used to be, but he also still displays some of the arrogance and pride that has put him in terrible situations before. But, the outstanding feature shown by this Dr. Strange is his willingness to help (to quote another famous fictional Doctor, he’s “Here to help.”). That trait is exemplified when Strange says, “The Hippocratic Oath is a lifetime vow.” This issue does great to not get bogged down by too much background, and just shows you who Stephen Strange is. This comic also hints at some interesting characters entering the fray. And, ends with a great cliffhanger, one I feel not enough comics attempt. It feels like a lot of newer comics like to leave the characters in a place of stasis instead of one of imminent death and danger, this one isn’t one of them. We can guess it’s not going to just end here, but it’s still a classic trope. It’s a “Is this the end for our hero? How will they survive this one?” type cliffhanger and I enjoyed that. But, of all the aspects of this new series, I think the character base is the strongest thing going for this comic. It's what will bring me back to see how it plays out. The Stephen Strange shown knows the dangers of the “having his cake and eating it too” situation he’s put himself in but is going to need a defining event to show him that he might not be able to have it both ways.

Kev Walker provides the art and shares a “storyteller” credit with Waid. His characters have such a neat style to them. They have a pop-y, cool design that creates a set atmosphere for the comic. And, when the action scene happens towards the end of the issue, that style is shown to be greatly adaptable to creating a chaotic and gritty tone. The earlier shots show a clean-cut, almost suave Strange in the hospital with other clearly illustrated, in that neat style, characters. There’s a great group hospital shot that shows off Walker’s character work. Then, in the action-packed section, the style is shown to be able to pack in dense details onto the page. Walker's illustrations of the villain were truly menacing. These scenes are where colorist Java Tartaglia can express more with the color. He makes sure the color peaks out of Walker’s shadows, which are used throughout. He blends the colors to add to the shading and give the feeling of light playing off the surfaces. With Walker’s use of deep shadows, it makes it more impressive when you see how Tartaglia is able to work around it. Tartaglia also began the issue with some great, expressive coloring. He gave the demons a sickly, nauseating blend of colors and drained the hospital of hue to show the depressing environment.

With his new system in place, Dr. Stephen Strange sets out to heal the world in all respects. This issue introduces a precarious predicament that will hopefully turn out alright, but with things seeming to start to pile up, the Sorcerer/Surgeon Supreme may have to pick one occupation to give his complete attention. Dr. Strange #1 shows the best sides of its title character and begins an adventure to test what he is capable of.

Our Score:


A Look Inside