Thursday, 25 August 2016

Doctor Strange [2015] #10 - Marvel Comics

DOCTOR STRANGE No. 10, October 2016
Advertised as the finale to Jason Aaron’s “Last Days Of Magic” story-arc, and depicting the Sorcerer Supreme’s supposed victory over the Empirikul, Issue Ten of “Doctor Strange” must still have proved something of a frustrating experience for its readership with the Alabama-born writer’s seemingly arbitrary removal of the Imperator’s resilience to the mystic arts at the comic’s conclusion. In fact, having repeatedly demonstrated an incredible hardiness to spells, chants and incarnations throughout the rest of this far-reaching ‘event’, the “inter-dimensional army” leader’s sudden and almost fatal susceptibility to the titular character’s ever-evaporating magic is so unconvincing and illogical that it arguably appears to have occurred simply to allow the American author to end his narrative within the space allowed. Certainly the fact that Hellgore is able to withstand the trauma of taking a magical arrow in the eye one moment, and yet be blinded by “the milled powder of the Ancient One’s skull” in the next, smacks of lazy penmanship; especially when such a ‘game-changing’ revelation is simply, almost inadvertently, rationalised by the practicing magician with the words “Magic isn’t just the thing he hates. It’s his weakness.”

Equally as disappointing is this twenty-page periodical’s resolution to “the so-called Thing in the Cellar”, a being of pain and suffering which was created by Doctor Strange and secretly kept in the basement of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Initially depicted as a force capable of destroying both its “Father” and the Imperator, this multi-eyed monstrosity ultimately joins the former Defender in his fight against the Empirikul. However once the battle is ended, the creature is subsequently shown simply wandering the streets of New York City as a free entity, with absolutely no discernible explanation as to how it actually helped the former “preeminent surgeon” defeat his formidable foe, or even managed to escape from its own captivity?

Fortunately such exasperating omissions within Aaron’s script do not seem to have detrimentally affected the vast majority of Chris Bachalo’s breakdowns. True, some of the Canadian comic book illustrator’s panels, such as those depicting librarian Zelma Stanton and Wong dripping in black ooze whilst ‘praying’ for the Sorcerer Supreme’s wellbeing, are as awkward-looking as their subject matter is disturbing. But few of this publication’s audience could arguably have balked at the mainstream artist’s wonderfully complicated renderings of the Thing in the Cellar as it confronts Doctor Strange and inkily envelops him within its oleaginous manifestation.
The 'Death of X' variant cover art of "DOCTOR STRANGE" No. 10 by Andrea Broccardo

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