Writer/Artist: Tradd Moore
Guest Artist: Jensine Eckwall
Colors: Heather Moore
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Tradd Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 28th, 2022
Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #2 continues the deep dive into Gnosticism, as Doctor Strange becomes involved in delivering the goddess Sophia’s baby in two different planes of reality, even as he’s embroiled in an attempt to remove the god Bythos from The Body Machine in the ancient city of Sanc Nistos. Are you lost yet? If you’ve ever wanted to know what an acid trip is like without actually taking acid, then dive into this book!
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Writer/artist Tradd Moore swings for the fences again with Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #2, managing to overcome even Alan Moore and Grant Morrison in embracing the deeply philosophical, disturbingly otherworldly and bizarre. Have you read Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” run? Well consider that amateur-level stuff compared to this book, which I had to read three times to even begin to understand what was happening.
That’s not a bad thing. I think 90% of comics coming out these days demand very little thought, they’re filled with simple plots and heroic action scenes, which isn’t bad either, but when something like Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise comes along, it makes you realize that comics, like novels, can convey complex ideas and concepts and even challenge the reader when the right creator is involved. There are so many characters and locations in this issue that anyone not familiar with Gnosticism (I only had a slight knowledge of it going in) is going to be mentally battered by it. There’s no question that it’s a fascinating story so far, though, with some metaphysically high stakes.
What I find most entertaining about the story is that Doctor Strange is the most grounded character here. In some places, he even seems lost and a bit terrified by the cosmic figures around him. It’s interesting to see Doctor Strange in a situation where he doesn’t know everything and he’s just along for the ride. Usually, HE is the one freaking everyone out!
The world that’s the setting for the story is a twisted Heavy Metal-style landscape, with statues of deformed ancient giants looming across mountains and buildings that look like they were formed from melted candles. It’s a psychedelic setting like no other, perfect for a Doctor Strange tale. If you want to be simultaneously dazzled and befuddled (in the best way), pick up Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #2. It’s a trippy journey through a uniquely alien setting.
Tradd Moore and Jensine Ecwall’s art is what truly carries Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #2. If more traditional artists had worked on the book, the story would have suffered for it. Given the spiritual setting and the metaphysical conflict raging, there had to be equally sublime art to back it up, and Tradd Moore delivers. It’s guaranteed you’ve never seen anything quite like his artwork. It’s like Jack Kirby’s trippiest visuals amplified by 100. Some people seemed turned off by it, but I find the pages breathtaking, because there’s really nothing like that art anywhere else.
Even the panel layouts are innovative, reminding me a bit of early Todd McFarlane’s work, the panels being shattered, warped and busted to push the pages to their absolute limits. The artwork is a masterpiece of the cosmic and bizarre.
If you want to be simultaneously dazzled and befuddled (in the best possible way), pick up Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #2. Make sure to set aside time to read it multiple times, it’s an issue (and a mini-series) that’s best absorbed rather than read. Enjoy being lost in its beautiful pages.