Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Doctor Strange [2015] Annual #1 - Marvel Comics

DOCTOR STRANGE ANNUAL No. 1, November 2016
Whilst hardly the worst-selling comic of September 2016, this “Doctor Strange” annual must still have come as something of a major disappointment to its 44,778-strong audience, on account of Kathryn Immonen’s inability to decide just what sort of comic the twenty-page periodical was going to be. For although a good proportion of the plot seems to be a fairly unambitious tongue-in-cheek tale of the Master of the Mystic Arts having repairs completed upon 177A Bleecker Street, “or what’s left of it”, the narrative also ventures into his emotionally turbulent relationship with Clea and the potential dissolving of their mystical union.

Such sensitive stuff really seems to jar with the prevailing jokey tone of “To Get Her, Forever”, as the Sorcerer Supreme’s frustrating anger, which previously had been quite amusing when directed towards Wong and an unanswered doorbell, quickly makes for rather uncomfortable reading when turned upon Strange’s former “disciple and lover.” Indeed, the titular character’s increasing aggression towards Umar’s daughter actually escalates from him banging about plates and kettles to finally holding a kitchen knife up to the silver-haired woman’s face; “I am trying to make us some tea.”

Equally as unsuccessful, is the Canadian writer’s attempt to bring some demonic menace to the piece, courtesy of Xycorax the Contractor..? This grouter’s manifestation is supposedly entirely due to Stephen’s failure to read the fine print when he hired the builder and signed a binding contract consigning the house and his servant “straight to Zanax”. Luckily for all though, Clea just so happens to have created “an incredibly powerful object” with which the monster can be vanquished, and disconcertingly this enchanted document co-incidentally arrives through the letterbox at precisely the right moment…

Sadly, Leonardo Romero’s drawing does little to improve this publication’s entertainment either, with the comic book artist’s slightly cartoony style appearing to be strikingly similar to that of Chris Samnee, but without the simplistic charm. In fact, there are times, such as the sorceress’s flashback battle with the interdimensional Empirikul or Wong’s bedroom brawl with Xycorax, where his pencilling is so painfully poor as to be reminiscent of an amateur adolescent’s sketch book.
Writer: Kathryn Immonen, Artist: Leonardo Romero, and Color: Jordie Bellaire

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