Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Doctor Strange [2015] #4 - Marvel Comics

DOCTOR STRANGE No. 4, March 2016
Disconcertingly entitled “The Art Of Puking Without Puking” Jason Aaron’s narrative for Issue Four of “Doctor Strange” is arguably both disappointingly choppy and distinctly sedentary in nature as the Alabama-born writer bravely attempts to explain to the title’s 52,388 strong audience just “how magic works in the Marvel Universe”, as well as show his “All-New All-Different” direction for the Sorcerer Supreme when compared to “the classic stories of Steve Ditko and Steve Englehart.”

Sadly however, such focus upon the cost for “every spell, every incantation, [and] every tampering with the mystical forces of nature” doesn’t seemingly prove conductive to a smooth-flowing storyline, and instead has Stephen leaping about time and space as he recalls punching the Ancient One as hard as he could “years ago”, briefing a magic-user filled Bar With No Doors as to the fact that “since yesterday… I’ve buried seventeen Sorcerers Supreme”, and then momentarily flitting back to “this morning” in order to “cast a spell of summoning… that hasn’t been cast for five thousand years” before he resumes his monotonous meeting.

Admittedly this detailed exposition as to how the Master of the Mystic Arts ensures that “the scales are kept balanced” does provide the Harvey Award-winner with plenty of opportunities to highlight the more humorous side to the magician’s life. Few readers surely wouldn’t have laughed at the New Avenger’s discomfort when he starts regurgitating “glowing” food he doesn’t even remember eating after “casting spells all week”, or share Zelma’s apprehensive look as Wong’s employer scarfs down a bowl of postulating purple tentacles, frogs, snails and all manner of other squidgy horrors that “tastes like leprosy.”; “You don’t want to watch this, Zelma. You can never unsee the sight of me eating.”

But such drollness is by no means enough to carry the plot for almost the entirety of this publication, and even when the Sorcerer Supreme does inadvertently blunder into “a machine that disrupts magic” whilst visiting “the Temple of Watoomb. Deep beneath the Indian Ocean”, Chris Bachalo’s overly busy breakdowns makes the resultant swordplay between man and Matrix-like mechanism rather hard to follow. It’s certainly not clear from the Canadian’s pencils that the fight has somehow carried Doctor Strange across a seabed containing “all manner of mystical booby traps” into the very shrine itself; at least not until the final splash-panel cliff-hanger when the supposedly victorious former surgeon is depicted surrounded by a pack of Witchfinder wolves.
The 'Deadpool' variant cover art of "DOCTOR STRANGE" No. 4 by Khoi Pham & Rachelle Rosenberg

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