Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Review by PeteR
Let me start with the disclaimer that I am not the biggest fan of Dr. Strange. The character occasionally is elevated by whichever creators are weaving his tales, but the quality has never been consistent. Strange certainly is not in my top 10 list of Marvel characters. Much as I am a fan of Motown music, the name of the series, Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme just felt unwieldy to me. I would not have picked up Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme if my friend, Lex had not recommended it to me. Since he did, I gave the first couple of issues a chance. I was totally hooked by the end of the first issue.
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme starts with the premise that magic has been eradicated from the Marvel Universe. Stephan Strange has to rely solely on his astral form and whatever magic doodad he can lay his hands on. Of course, since Strange is at his weakest, Merlin shows up and kidnaps him to engage in a battle royal alongside five of the previous Sorcerers Supremes.
The five Sorcerer Supremes include Sir Isaac Newton (yes, that Isaac Newton); the Ancient One, not being so ancient; Kushala, a Native American women whose power comes from a surprising source; Nina the Conjuror, the Brazilian sorcerer supreme from the 1950’s and a future incarnation of Wiccan from the Young Avengers. Completing the roster is a creature called the Mindful One, who is actually a mindless one (look it up) but with some sentience (who maybe the best previously unthinking assistant since Dragon Man and Andy the Awesome Android). All of the sorcerers are more powerful than Dr. Strange is currently. A fact they repeatedly remind him of at the most inopportune moments.
The writer of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme is Robbie Thompson (Silk, Venom: Space Knight, Amazing Spider-Man). Thompson forges all five sorcerers with distinct personalities and back stories. Each issue, #2 through 5, highlights the predicaments that lead the individual mages to being susceptible to Merlin’s enticements coaxing them to participate in this endeavor. Issue #6 maybe one of the most original exercises of a plotting device I have seen all year. Issue #7 includes the Avengers, so pathos and witty banter ensue.
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supremes’ penciling is drafted by Javier Rodriguez (Black Cat, Daredevil, Superior Spider-Man) with inks by Alvaro Lopez (Catwoman, Spider-Woman, New Mutants). Between them, they are able to invoke some of the best aspects of Steve Ditko and Marshall Rodgers, along with some Jim Steranko in issue #7. One of the artistic highlights is each issue has a two page spread that boarders on the hallucinogenic. I particularly enjoyed the M.C. Escher stairs in issue #3.
Speaking of hallucinogenic, the coloring in Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme is accomplished by Jordie Bellaire. Her ability to fill every nook and cranny of some very complicated art, while being mindful of the power of white spaces is superbly accomplished.
VC’s Joe Caramagna (Poe Dameron, Darth Vader, Black Widow) rounds out the Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme team. For those playing at home, the VC stands for virtual calligraphy. Caramagna is equably able to juggle various fonts, including a variety of typefaces, Nordic Runes and the Word of God.
Why you should buy this book? My usual hyperbole aside, Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme is a cerebral yet approachable series utilizing outstanding talents that merge seamlessly together. The best Dr. Strange stories have to walk a fine line between the psychedelic and the creditable. The reader has to believe in magic, with all its arcane accouterments within a context that is relatable. The efforts of each member of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supremes’ creative enclave has numerous shining moments. Every issue leaves our characters with a greater challenge than the previous tale, enticing the reader onward. This is one of the best Dr. Strange epics in quite a while.