Strange #1 Review

Reviewer: James Hatton
Story Title: N/A

Writers: J. Michael Straczynski & Sara Barnes
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Randy Gentile
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Every writer has a Doctor Strange story, so Bendis has said. You can also say the same about Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and Spiderman. I am sure that quite a few of them are excellent, hell, I have a Ghost Rider story for Marvel Knights that I think would make the character cooler than Onslaught, Secret Wars II, and War Games combined!

Now let’s add Joe Michael Straczynski into this. He is the man that gave the world Babylon 5, the sooner or later – once Top Cow says they’re sorry creator of ‘Rising Stars’ – and has given the world the most together concept of the Spideyverse since time forgotten. You know what, he has a Strange story to tell as well, and it feels more like Doctor Strange: Year One than any other Strange story than I’ve ever read… I will admit though, I wouldn’t have picked it up if it wasn’t JMS who had written it.

Story!

Doctor Stephen Strange really isn’t that odd of a guy. He is working in a foreign land, helping the sick and problemed. He is, though, the best there is at it and has the world for him on a silver platter. As time wears on he is going to have his choice of medical practice and be able to choose his field of science. He’s your go-to guy. He’s your medicine man on the go.

Sadly, with that great power comes a great greed. Spidey can yammer up a blue streak about how he uses his powers for the forces of good and all of that. Doc Strange is living the high life with hookers, twin bimbos, and a buttload of cashola.

His mentor though, has gone out of his way to make sure Stephen knows that he is not living up to his potential. He could be doing anything he wanted, but right out of college, he’s chosen to start up a very lucrative plastic surgery office. There is nothing ‘Strange’ about making 80 year old women look 75… well there is, but not in the way this book is meant.

Stephen has a heart to heart with this very same mentor about his potential. Stephen thinks long and hard about the words that his own personal ‘Uncle Ben’ said, and tells him to go blow it out his ass. So it makes him feel like utter crap when that same doctor dies in a car crash.

Now Stephen is still living the sweet life, but with a pang of conciousness eating at him. It’s then that he suffers a late night skiing accident. Like a mystical Sonny Bono… sorry.

As far as writing goes, Straczynski remains one of the best, telling a story that doesn’t have to be Stephen Strange. It could be anybody, but because it is the mystical one, we are sitting on the edge of our seat awaiting something creepy and Fing Fang Foomish to happen. So when absolutely nothing in the realm of the mystical does… we know we’re going to have to wait until #2… damn serialized stories. Even though Barnes probably did most of the writing and Straczynski probably just plotted it all out, I’m blaming it ALL on JMS. As Britney says (in her fun little remake), “It’s my prerogative.”

Art!

The cover art is intriguing. If the title of the book was ‘Sherpa’ this would be the most ideal cover EVER! Sadly, though, the book is entitled Strange and there is very little that is odd about the cover. It’s beautifully rendered, but does little for me past the logo (which is damned cool).

Brandon Peterson is one of those guys who used to work for some other company that is now trying to liquidate their assets. Marvel was smart enough to pick him up and immediately hook him up with a higher profile writer like JMS. It’s a rub that can only help out in the long run, especially when he has such a strong style. I’m sure over the course.. at least I hope.. that over the course of the next few issues we’ll be hit with some of the weirder parts of Strange’s life, because I have a feeling Peterson is going to be able to give us some neat demons and creatures from the Netherworld.

Overall!

A strong developmental beginning. With the Doctor Strange that we’ve been given, we are supposed to throw everything we know about big red cowls and creepy churches in New York away and imagine him to be the Hefner of the medical world. I assume we are supposed to enjoy his journey into the mystical and revel as he slowly turns his back on western medicines and turns his face towards more fluffy-bunny-pagan pasttimes.

As long as our Doctor Strange doesn’t start shopping at Hot Topic and carrying around Wicca For The Solo Practioner, I’m with it to the end, because so far it’s solid.