Writer: Skottie Young
Art: Humberto Ramos, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Edgar Delgado (Cover)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 3rd, 2021
I love the school atmosphere in Strange Academy. Growing up during the height of the Harry Potter craze, the idea of a school where you can learn magic has always held a special place in my heart. Heck, I still love (and miss) the idea of the Xavier Institute being a school. I mean, can you imagine having to rush to Storm’s third-period class? Or being a telepath and missing Telepathic Theory 101 with Jean? For those of you all who are smiling thinking about this, Strange Academy takes this concept and adds to it.
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First, we have the Sorcerer Supreme as the headmaster. Unlike Dumbledore or modern-day Prof. Xavier, Dr. Strange does not necessarily have a solid idea of how to deal with kids. But unlike other headmasters, right off the bat, he treats his students like humans (or the equivalent of a human in any of the species in Strange Academy). For instance, Dr. Strange apologized to Emily regarding the events that had taken place in issue number 7. Young writes Dr. Strange as a superhero who is aware that what he did and the way he dealt with a traumatized teenager, was in the same manner as he would a superhero who failed a mission. Compassion and empathy. These traits are what make Dr. Strange the perfect headmaster. He is willing to connect with his students and own up to his mistakes.
Secondly, every interaction in this book seems natural. I love it when comic books have other characters in the mythos, pop in and out of other heroes’ lives. Sometimes, this feels forced. This is not the case with Strange Academy. Having Agatha Harkness (is she really in a certain Disney+ tv. show?) teaching a class à la Prof. McGonagall, kids taking a field trip with some of the best Guardians of the Galaxy, and my favorite Asgardian busting in on Dr. Strange during a meeting (“Wizard!”) is organic. The larger Marvel Universe is present and is interacting with these characters at the Academy. Young, please keep this up!
Next, I have to give it up to the way Young writes this issue. He can make a magical academy seem grounded by having the characters experience the same stressors as a modern-day teenager would. The kids are sent to Limbo as punishment, have various class assignments, are sent to counseling when needed (all superheroes need counseling in my opinion), and fight each other. These are all situations (sans Limbo) that you, me, and every other average teenager has experienced at one point or another.
Lastly, the theme of wanting to grow outside of your parent’s shadow is on full display in this issue. The Marvel Universe is riddled with various struggles between following the status quo and wanting to become your person. Let’s take a look at Magus and Warlock in the X-Men’s side of the house. Once Warlock becomes an adult, he is to kill Magus (or his father). Warlock swerved that and joined the New Mutants in an attempt to become a better person. That theme has planted itself in this issue, and I am interested to see how it will turn out.
Strange Academy is a fun book. You can easily start midway and have a decent understanding of what is taking place. The overall environment coupled with Young’s epic writing lends itself well to a story about mystical teenagers. This book scratches that OG Xavier Institute and Hogwarts itch. As soon as you are finished reading this review, go to your LCS, and pick up this issue. You will not be disappointed.