Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Doctor Strange: Season One Review (Greg Pak, Emma Rios)

By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, has Greg Pak ever written a decent comic?!

Even though Doctor Strange’s origins seem to be covered in every Doctor Strange book, Pak goes over it again (because this is a Marvel Season One comic? Is this series aimed at new readers?). Stephen Strange was once a world-famous surgeon whose hands got maimed in an accident. He goes searching for magic healers in the Himalayas, ends up learning magic and, by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, becomes the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. 

Ever wonder how he and his assistant Wong met? Me neither! But get this: they didn’t like each other at first! By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, has this story been done before? I don’t Hoggoth-think so! So Strange, Wong and Arbitrary Female Character go looking for magic rings while Strange’s enemy Mordo hangs back in the wings like a good villain, and predictably attacks Strange at the end, cementing Strange and Wong’s friendship and Strange’s status as a “worthy” mage. Throw in some magic-sounding words – Agamotto, Vishanti, Dormammu – and, by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, you can slap a bow on this puppy, it’s good to Hoggoth! 

Pak’s script is about as simplistic and obvious as you can get. Strange is the reluctant hero, initially studying magic to regain his former life where he was a wealthy, arrogant twerp, but re-learns the initial reason he got into medicine in the first place: helping people, and he can do this more as the Sorcerer Supreme. Hoggoth fart. 

Strange and Wong’s antagonist relationship is corny as hell, Mordo is the villain which means he does standard unsurprising bad guy stuff because that’s what he’s supposed to do, and, by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Pak likes sprinkling “by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!” on nearly every page (which, by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, doesn’t get annoying, right?)! 

The only reason to read this one is for Emma Rios’ art which is quite lovely. She also drew the slightly better Strange: The Doctor is Out! by Mark Waid and you can see how her style’s developed since then. It’s much less manga-y, less polished-looking and more interesting, and more along the lines of her work on Pretty Deadly. By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, she looks like she’s really having fun drawing these swirling, fantastical magical splash pages! They look totally fantastic and awesome, elevating the book to lustrous heights that it doesn’t deserve given Pak’s flat writing. 

Because this is only 100 pages, Marvel throw in an issue of Matt Fraction/Terry Dodson’s Defenders to beef it up to a more respectable length. It’s got some scenes with Doctor Strange in but otherwise its Hulk-centric and kinda boring. 

There don’t appear to any truly great Doctor Strange books out there but Brian K Vaughan/Marcos Martin’s The Oath and the aforementioned Waid/Rios book are both better than this tedious comic – by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, try either of those over Doctor Strange: Season One!

Doctor Strange: Season One

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