A Cup o’ Swampy Joe
Jason Aaron (W), Frazer Irving (A)
Cover by Kevin Nowlan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So let’s travel back to the weird and wacky world of the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Stephen Strange.
With Earth’s magic having been almost completely drained away by the interdimensional science-zealots known as the Empirikul, Doctor Strange is currently in a very weak state. This blood in the water has attracted other beings who have managed to avoid being weakened by the Empirikul’s warpath. Nightmare, Satanna, Baron Mordo, the Orb, Mr. Misery (a being made of curses caused by Doctor Strange’s spells), and Dormammu himself have all taken the opportunity to try to kill Stephen Strange. All failed, if only barely.
However, Mr. Misery and Wong made a pact during Dormammu’s assault. To the surprise of everyone, Strange was able to access what magic he had left to beat Dormammu by banishing him to the realm of Shuma Gorath, whom Dormammu had attempted to feed to the Empirikul to save his own realm. Misery took Wong regardless, and now Stephen Strange is left without his most trusted ally and friend.
This issue opens with two groups of eldritch and demonic beings battling. We are told that they are attempting to stake a claim on Earth’s returning magic. Doctor Strange attracts their attention and convinces them to fight him instead. He wins and forces them to come to treaty. This all also might have taken place in Strange’s living room, because magic and weirdness. Just roll with it.
We are made privy to the fact that the Sanctum Sanctorum is in disarray due to the disappearance of Wong. Zelma is having trouble maintaining what she can, and Doctor Strange is having to balance the upcoming magical crises with the search for Wong.
We next see Wong attempting to fight an internal battle against Misery. Despite his best efforts, Misery manages to access information about Strange from Wong’s mind, and the two leave to act on this.
Doctor Strange goes to the Bar with No Doors, a locale that caters to sorcerers, sorceresses, witches, wizards, shamans, etc. He hopes one of them has information about Wong, but none do. They are busy trying to keep the balance in the world as well.
The swamp monster and protector of the Nexus of Realities known as the Man-Thing appears and beckons Doctor Strange to go with him, and he does. The next scene has Strange and the Man-Thing fighting off extradimensional Nazi Vampire Ninjas, because, you know, magic and multiverse theory.
We are next shown a man named Samuel Wintergreen, and Wong/Misery pay him a visit. They take him, doing something to his head, and we are shown a menagerie of the other victims which Wong/Misery have acquired.
Doctor Strange and Man-Thing dispatch the remaining vampires. Man-Thing gives the Sorcerer Supreme some kind of algae, and Strange receives a call from Zelma. She informs him of a potential lead on Wong.
Stephen goes to the hospital at which he was once surgeon, and he is told by a doctor that multiple patients with severe brain tumors just arrived. They attempted to operate on one, but the tumor “fought back.” At this point, Strange is shown a room covered in blood and viscera. He is shown the other patients, and their heads are malformed and swollen. Doctor Strange agrees to operate on them, as he believes the Man-Thing’s algae may help. The comic ends with him showing that he also called upon Thor, Goddess of Thunder for aid.
As always Jason Aaron has put together a weird and wild issue for the Sorcerer Supreme. With the Empirikul, the Death of Magic, the Blood in the Water which attracted all the villains, and now Mr. Misery, he has put Stephen Strange on a fascinating trajectory that is incredibly enthralling.
The pacing and storytelling in this issue was seamless. There’s never a dull moment or a panel wasted. The only disappointment is the fact that Bachalo isn’t on this issue. I do wish he was back, but Irving’s artwork is so weird and unnerving that I can’t complain too much. His style is very much fit for a comic book about Doctor Strange. The realistic yet heavily shaded shapes as well as the faded colors contrast Bachalo’s art, but both easily work for Doctor Strange.
This remains one of Marvel’s better books coming out at the moment, I dug the guest-starring of Man-Thing, and I look forward to the next issue with Thor. I highly recommend this book. It’s cohesive and tells a broad story, but it manages to give each issue its own arc. It’s never a bad time to jump on, so give it a read.
Final Score: 9/10