Writer: Ralph Macchio
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Color Artist: Neeraj Menon
Cover Artists: Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Doctor Strange has fought many types of supernatural menaces over the years, but two have stuck around the longest: rival sorcerer Baron Mordo and the nefarious Nightmare. Both have tried to take down the Sorcerer Supreme, and have both failed many times, but now they conspire to strike at the heart of Stephen Strange. See how the good doctor faces his two foes in Doctor Strange: Nexus of Nightmares #1!
This comic is a solid introduction of Doctor Strange and some of his more classic supporting characters and villains, namely Wong, Baron Mordo, and Nightmare of course. The writer Ralph Macchio is telling a classic type of Doctor Strange story with an old-school spirit to it. The premise is simple enough, Baron Mordo forms an alliance with Nightmare to take down Doctor Strange, forcing him to confront his inner demons. The comic is a standalone story with a beginning, middle, and end that feels ripped from older stories from the original run. It is a change of pace from modern Doctor Strange stories but it feels like a huge retread of old territory.
Macchio nails classical characterization of Doctor Strange giving him a voice that’s intelligent, well-spoken, shrewd, contemplative, yet audacious and knowledgeable with the mystic arts. He also highlights the strong bond between Dr. Strange and Wong pretty well, making it endearing compared to how it’s been in recent years. It’s clear he’s making an attempt to try to stick to his original characterization and storytelling, however, it’s too verbose in the narration and dialogue. The spell-casting action is great, but besides that it can feel a bit much and feels disconnected with how Doctor Strange is commonly written these days in mainstream Marvel comics.
The art by Ibrahim Moustafa is excellent. He nails the details, body designs, and facial expressions of the characters pretty well. You can see when characters are happy, distressed, angry, and angling for battle. He also handles the more supernatural landscapes in the comic fine enough, admittedly, they’re in short supply despite Nightmare being a major villain. The colors by Neeraj Menon are also great, providing dismal and dour colors to match Nightmare’s macabre presence, while giving vibrant colors to Doctor Strange, Wong, and even Baron Mordo that helps them stand out in the comic. Despite its flaws, this is a good-looking comic.
However, the comic isn’t able to follow through on its excitable premise in favor of being an introductory comic to Doctor Strange and his side of things. See, Marvel and DC tend to make comics that are standalone introductions to certain heroes and villains before a big movie or TV adaptation comes out. The problem with, let’s call them setup comics, is that they feel like you’re reading a summary of the character instead of getting a genuine story. That happens here as the main ‘conflict’ isn’t as compelling as it could be. As a result, the story isn’t as surreal, epic, scary, or fun as it could be. Plus, Strange’s inner conflict feels like something that would be a problem for him in his early years as Sorcerer Supreme, not when he’s a seasoned and experienced veteran as depicted here.
The other issue is that this comic picks and chooses its portions of Marvel comic continuity. As the preview images show, the comic references Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars storyline but not much else in the mainstream Marvel universe other than that. This is reflected in the way Baron Mordo talks about Nightmare, as if he hasn’t worked for the likes of Dormmamu or heard of Nightmare beforehand. Heck, he even fought against him several times. So, the comic is written like everything happening here is a first-time thing for everyone involved from Doctor Strange to Baron Mordo and Nightmare.
Doctor Strange: Nexus of Nightmares #1 is a solid standalone story that can be read mostly out of continuity. Ralph Macchio provides a Doctor Strange story with an old-school feel to it given life by Ibrahim Moustafa’s art and Neeraj Menon’s colors. It’s not as epic as the cover would suggest and retreads familiar territory for Doctor Strange, but it’s a fine story for new fans of the Sorcerer Supreme.