Graphic Novel Review: Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird

Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird

Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird - Credit: Archant

Who do you call when things are coming out of your dreams and trying to kill you? Or when your daughter is cursing in Latin and walking like a spider? Or when your dog keeps screaming at you to strangle your neighbours? Doctor Strange, of course. He’s the only person standing between us and the forces of darkness, but has he been paying his tab? Every act of magic has a cost and Jason Aaron (Thor, Original Sin) and Chris Bachalo (Uncanny X-Men) are going to put Stephen Strange through hell to even the scales.

(Panini Books)

The biggest stumbling blocks in ensuring accessibility and reader identification when it comes to the exploits of Stephen Strange are the very foundations behind his existence. We have an arrogant and gifted surgeon, aloof and distant from his peers, who seeks solutions to physical trauma within the otherworldly realms of magic, subsequently becoming the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme and again standing removed from the people he protects.

New writer Jason Aaron - aided by the remarkable talents of artist Chris Bachalo - has succeeded in doing what many of his predecessors failed to achieve, he infuses Strange with an interesting and relatable character, albeit as something of a ladies’ man with more than a touch of the Tony Stark about him, and then strips away the very forces which grant him his powers, as he faces the threat of the Empirikul, an extra-dimensional force of ravagers intent on wiping out magic across all realities…

Aaron also plays up on the juxtaposition of our mundane world with what is really happening on the astral plane, and uses the narrative trope of a naive point-of-view character, in this case librarian Zelma Stanton, in order to introduce readers new and old to the inherent weirdness of Strange’s life and activities.

Unlike previous volumes featuring the Sorcerer Supreme, this latest series doesn’t shy away from humour and lightness of touch, playing up on the absurdity of some of the good doctor’s encounters with the bizarre, but at the same time emphasising the all-consuming nature of the threat faced by all magical users.

With the Benedict Cumberpatch movie just around the corner, this is the perfect time for a proper relaunch of the Doctor Strange character after years of misfires, and the dream team of Aaron and Bachalo seem to understand exactly what the series needs to succeed.