Graphic Novel Review: Doctor Strange: Mr Misery

Doctor Strange: Mr Misery

Doctor Strange: Mr Misery - Credit: Archant

The magician’s current creative team take a curtain call as they wrap up their run...

(Panini Books)

All things must pass, and so we come to the end of one of the greatest Doctor Strange runs in the character’s 50-year history, which not only served to re-imagine and re-invigorate the character after years of mystical pomposity, but also drastically redefined the nature of magic in the Marvel Universe, which was also well-overdue.

Stephen Strange started off life as an arrogant and gifted surgeon, aloof and distant from his peers, who crashes his car while on a bender and ruins his hands. Seeking a cure within the otherworldly realms of magic, he subsequently became the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, but again stands removed from the people he protects. He isn’t the everyman Peter Parker or inspirational Steve Rogers, and readers have always struggled to identify with him.

That is until writer Jason Aaron, fused with the artistic genius of Chris Bachelo, made Strange not only accessible and interesting, but stripped away the very forces which grant him his powers in the landmark Last Days of Magic storyline. He brought in a sense of humour, a juxtaposition between our mundane reality and Strange’s otherworldly exploits, and introduced a new and relatable character in the form of librarian Zelma Stanton.

There may have been a degree of loose crossover with the Benedict Cumberpatch movie, but ultimately Aaron and Bachelo went it alone with their own version of the character, and for the first time in years, it worked!

Unfortunately other commitments are taking the boys away from Stephen, although hopefully subsequent creators will build on what they have done rather than cast it aside and hit the reset button. This final volume wraps up the outstanding plot-lines from across the previous 20 or so issues, including the malevolent Mr Misery, distillation of all the pain and suffering magic has caused Stephen over the years.

Having escaped from imprisonment in Strange’s cellar during the onslaught of the magic-killing Empirikul, Misery took control of one of his closest allies in a bid for revenge, prompting the intervention of the new (female) Thor to provide much-needed assistance in defeating the creature once and for all…

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Aaron and Bachelo’s run has been a celebration of weirdness in the already wacky Marvel Universe, and that continues here in what is a fitting coda to their contributions to the character’s revitalisation. They will be missed.