Writer: Jed MacKay
Art: Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, and VC’s Cory Petit,
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 22nd, 2021
Reviewer: Rollo Tomassi
The Good Doctor is out. Yet back at the same time?
Despite reading comics for a considerable long time, I’m more a recent convert to Doctor Strange. Past versions of the character often had him speaking like a drunken, Shakespearean actor and I just couldn’t get interested in the character. Thankfully in recent years, writers like Jason Aaron, Donny Cates, and Mark Waid have made great strides in updating the character. Since the start of the Aaron run, I’ve been hooked on the character and read him nonstop since. Based on the first issue of the new limited series/event, it appears thankfully we will be able to add Jed Mackay to that list.
Some of the best Doctor Strange stories I’ve read often involve following him in simple, every day in life. Here, we open with Strange being awaken by his ghost dog buddy Bats to go “walkies”. While on his walk, Strange fills us in with some basic exposition on what his life is like nowadays. Mackay does a great job in a short amount of time catching the reader up on the current state of Strange and his life. You don’t have to have been following his recent series to understand what’s going on. Now, one of the things that makes Doctor Strange interesting, is he doesn’t just show up and blast magical spells when the Avengers need him to. His life is very busy protecting the earth when most of the time no one is aware the earth is in danger. It’s made clear that his life is a weird one even when it’s a so-called “normal” day. Creating the same idea, there is a great scene where Strange needs to perk himself up before answering the door because he has an image of never looking tired to uphold. I imagine this is something everyone can relate to when we have to put on our happy faces, even when we don’t want to. Yet in a shocking moment as Strange opens the door, he is attacked by an unseen opponent and thought to have been killed. While of course the name of the series is called the “Death of Doctor Strange”, I didn’t expect this moment so early in the series.
Having the Sorcerer Supreme suddenly murdered leads to a chain reaction in the world’s magical protection spells that Strange had erected to come down leaving the world vulnerable to attack. But not to worry, because Strange left one trick up his sleeve for a shocking cliffhanger. It turns out that years ago, Strange somehow put in stasis a past version of himself to appear if he ever died. This is the Doctor as he first appeared back in the 1960s, with his original blue cape and so far only a minor dose of that drunken actor dialogue I mentioned earlier. I know I said I wasn’t a fan of early Doctor Strange, but this feels like a fun way to shake up the status quo. And, as well based on the checklist at the back of the issue, it looks like we might get to see this version of the good Doctor interact with the modern MCU.
As for the art, Lee Garbett does a nice job of balancing the grounded and more magical parts of Doctor Strange’s final day. There are elements of Mark Buckingham’s art here, who was also a past Doctor Strange artist, that we’re done exceptionally well.
The Death of Doctor Strange #1 comes out of the gate much stronger than I expected it to. We get a quick but easy-to-follow glimpse into how weird, and yet still ordinary, his average day can be. Of course, comic fans know “death’ has little meaning in the Marvel Universe. That being said, there is a great setup here and with the reintroduction of a version of the original Doctor Strange, this story is already setting itself up as a must-read for fans of the Sorcerer Supreme. Even if they are a lapsed reader.