Strange #4

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski & Sara Barnes
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Strange has been a hit or miss title with me. Not knowing a whole helluva lot about his origin or things other than he is the easiest available Deus Ex Magicka when things go awry in the Marvel Universe – I went and did a little research. Yeah, they are tweaking the legend a bit, but that’s what one of these titles does… tweaks a bit.

It’s not easy to come by a copy of Strange Tales – unless you want to drop some bucks on the Essential books, which are totally worth the effort. Anyway, as I was saying, this revamp is close enough that even the neighsayers should give it some berth. Why? It’s frigging beautiful.

Story!

At this point in time, Strange has heard that he is to be the vessel of change in the world of things magick and he has dutifully said ‘UP YOURS!’ and bailed. Wouldn’t you? Yeah, me neither… but our protagonist, Doctor Stephen Strange does – and the world he sees is not a nice one. Demons and big dragoney bits and all sorts of craziness.

When he wakes up the next morning, he’s back in what seemed to be a grand mansion the night before.. except now it seems a bit more… well.. lived in. As he’s being told of all the greatness that he could possibly aspire to – pfft.. one of his best friends shows up and starts shooting up the place. Not a good week, eh?

From there, we get further into the reasons why our Doctor might never achieve the cool red & gold cape we’ve come to know him for. I won’t spoil it, but it involves stuff from issue #1. Not a helluva lot of story pushing this one, but you do at least start to find some conflict.. where this issue shines is—

Art!

Brandon Peterson has given me not one awesome page, but two. Yes, they are awesome in that Yin-Yangy, Dark/Lighty, Yoda/Darth kinda way – but, seriously… they are hot. The symbolic difference between what is going on in the aforementioned ‘shooting it up’ scene and what is going on in the mystical plains of the Otherworld is just too cool. Dragons and Phoenixes and Demons oh MY!

Let’s add to this that he has some of the most amazing look to the faces – it’s sad this book seems to come out a bit late. (Or does it just seem that way?) Either way, a fine job by Peterson.

Overall!

So, story gets a thumbs in the middle – a status quo acceptability. The art gets a double thumb up. Where does that leave us? With a book that I will continue to read because JMS is one of the guys I give the benefit of the doubt. I sit on the PRO side of the PRO/CON JMS discussion, and that is that.

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