Mr. Misery is an amalgamation of Doctor Strange’s pain and suffering personified, and it’s been spreading itself about. Doctor Strange’s major issue over the previous two books has been that magic has all-but been wiped out, which is more than an inconvenience for the Master of the Mystic Arts. However, Blood in the Aether revealed it wasn’t completely eradicated, and what’s left has begun to reconstitute itself, which in one way makes Doctor Strange’s task of nullifying Mr. Misery simpler, but Jason Aaron’s not been easy on him since starting the series, and isn’t about to let up now. There are some revolting times ahead.

Once again, Chris Bachalo doesn’t draw the entire book, and once again he’s astounding on the pages that he does draw, and this is irrespective of how many different inkers are used on those pages. Bear in mind this is a collection also featuring work by Frazer Irving and Kevin Nowlan, and Bachalo’s still the star turn, although Irving’s version of the Doctor with a beard as well as a ‘tache is interesting. What Bachalo provides is phenomenal disorientation and phantasmagoria

For decades Wong has been handling the mundane tasks of maintaining a home in order that Doctor Strange can save the universe twice a week. Aaron’s already provided an insight into their friendship and what keeping that home entails, and while there’s an abstraction to saving the universe, there isn’t to saving a friend, which is what makes what Mr. Misery puts Wong through so heart-rending. It’s also novel and imaginative, as is the role Aaron has for Thor, whose adventures he’s also been writing. Really, you’ve never seen Thor like this. Over the course of the series, you’ve never seen Doctor Strange like this either. Weakened rather than assured, his everyday world seen through the eyes of Zelma Stanton, with whom Aaron has constructed a companionship possibly based on that of another famous fictional doctor.

That’s not the end of the book, however, as Kathryn Immonen and Leonardo Romero provide the final story. Appearing where it does, it somewhat negates the touching ending to Aaron and Bachalo’s work, and Immonen’s version of Doctor Strange is far removed from theirs. He’s a short-tempered crosspatch with relationship issues. Clea calling to settle some issues with her former husband while repairs are going on is supposed to be funny, and while comedy moments can work in Doctor Strange, twenty pages of sitcom style gagging, misunderstandings and pratfalls surely aren’t what the majority want from the series. There’s also a ten page sampler for Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme by Robbie Thompson and Jonathan Marks. It’s an appetite whetter that ends before it properly starts. This accounts for around a quarter of the content, and so drags the ranking down, but Mr. Misery is still well worth getting for the work of Aaron and Bachalo. They’ve produced a notable run, a remarkable run, and sadly Aaron and Bachalo sign off here, with a new creative team taking over for Secret Empire.

It’s also available as a hardback in the UK as part of the Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection.