Friday, 19 August 2016

Doctor Strange [2015] #8 - Marvel Comics

DOCTOR STRANGE No. 8, July 2016
The twenty-sixth best selling book of May 2016, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Issue Eight of “Doctor Strange” unquestionably must have initially excited the majority of its 49,427 strong audience with its depiction of the “archaeologist of the Impossible” scaling some crocodile-infested catacombs in order to “find every scrap of magic in the world”. Certainly the magazine's anxious, claustrophobically taut opening sequence, complete with gigantic spider-webs, bleached skulls, venomous snakes, and a pack of pursuing Witchfinder wolves, helps make the Sorcerer Supreme’s vain search for “a few crumbs of magic” an enjoyably tense read. 

Disappointingly though, all of this pulse-pounding action soon sadly evaporates once the former “preeminent surgeon” has safely returned to his comrades-in-magic, and the magnitude of their hopeless situation finally dawns upon Wanda Maximoff, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen and Médico Místico. Indeed, the moment the Scarlet Witch suggests that “this could always be the end. The end of us. The end of magic”, Jason Aaron’s narrative takes a depressingly dark turn for the worse dialogue-wise and arguably appears to simply run out of things for the title’s main protagonists to do… Apart from perhaps look aghast whenever someone mentions the ‘horrible thing kept with the cellar of 177A Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York; “Just when you think things can’t get any worse… You remember there’s a monster in your cellar made entirely of pain and suffering.”

Admittedly the Alabama-born writer’s script for this final third of the twenty-page periodical isn’t entirely without its merits, with Wong’s humorous rescue of Zelma Stanton from a couple of globe-headed Empirikul eyebots using a fridge and two bowls of his master’s slimy-green soup, providing a modicum of amusement. But even this endearing scene is short-lived and soon forgotten when events strongly suggest that the Marvel Universe’s magical realms are disappointingly going to be ‘saved’ by the Sanctum Sanctorum’s secret ‘basement creature’ as opposed to the comic’s titular character himself.

Somewhat disconcertingly, Chris Bachalo’s artwork for this third instalment of “The Last Days Of Magic”, would also seem to suffer the same symptoms as Aaron’s increasingly tired plot. Chock full of numerous frantically drawn, terrifically-detailed panels, the Canadian penciller’s opening breakdowns are wonderfully dynamic and literally must have swept up any perusing bibliophile with its carousel of venomous vipers, magic-eating Een’Gawori slugs and Hellfire shotguns. However, as soon as the focus turns upon the Empirikul ‘disinfecting’ Doctor Strange’s abode, then the Eisner Award-winner noticeably decreases the number of pictures per page, and subsequently slows proceedings down to little more than a crawl…
The 'Age Of Apocalypse' variant cover art of "DOCTOR STRANGE" No. 8 by Pasqual Ferry

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