In his long career as a Marvel headliner, Stephen Strange has traveled to some amazing places. He’s been to Dormammu’s dread dimensions, encountered Eternity, lived in the Arctic, met Benjamin Franklin, Dracula and Death. So where does he go in the first issue of his new series? To a baseball game in Portland.
Yeah, this isn’t quite Steve Ditko’s take on Doctor Strange.
But I guess that’s a big part of the point of this issue. Stephen Strange is no longer the Marvel Universe’s Master of the Mystic Arts – Brother Voodoo has that role now. But Strange still has dreams and goals, as well as the kind of nose for mystic danger that only a highly experienced man would have. So it’s not a big surprise to see Stephen Strange battling a petty case of demon possession while also getting the chance to take the measure of a potential new disciple.
It’s actually quite refreshing to read a Doctor Strange story that isn’t filled with overwhelming melodrama or bizarre mystical menaces. The whole deal-with-the-devil idea that drives this story is such a traditional one that it allows readers to focus on the story told rather than any sort of larger picture.
Obviously, Mark Waid understands the context of the story he presents. His love for Ditko’s original work is obvious from the very first page of the issue, where the team presents a panel from the origin of Doctor Strange, from the early 1960s. So Waid was clearly tasked with the idea of giving Doctor Strange a new disciple.
As much as this issue is a reintroduction to the new and humbled Doctor Strange, so too this issue is an introduction to the new disciple, Casey Kinmont. So far Casey seems to have an appealing mix of skepticism and charm, seeming at least at first glimpse like a Doctor Who companion, kind of the innocent girl learning the ways of an older and wiser man. We’ll see how much charm Casey shows as her story evolves, but so far she seems like a charming disciple for Stephen Strange.
Emma Rios delivers a very entertaining art job, quite modern and fresh, with fresh lines and a charming animated art style. I really like the way she draws Doctor Strange; he looks like a man you might meet on the street who seems oddly funky and interesting.
While the setting of a baseball game is very odd for a Doctor Strange comic, and the continuity implant of Stephen being a baseball player in college is quite weird, this is a charmingly humble new take on the former Master of the Mystic Arts. It’s clear that Stephen rolled with the punches that hit him, and it’s entertaining to read the story of the unassuming man that Stephen Strange has become.