Review by Karl Verhoven
Mark Waid’s run on Doctor Strange began with a loss of power necessitating a trip across the universe to restore Strange’s magical skills. Across the Universe, though, ended with the manifestation of another Doctor Strange in the Sanctum Sanctorum on Earth, which Waid deals with immediately. There are connections to Waid’s earlier Doctor Strange graphic novel, The Doctor is Out!, and a rescue mission that’s been forgotten.
Jesús Saiz was an artistic star last time around, so it’s a pity he only draws just over two of these chapters, very nicely, though (sample spread right). Before then we’ve had the uneasy mixture of Javier Piña (sample spread left) and Andres Guinaldo. Both are good, but just not with their pages side by side, as Guinaldo veers more toward cartooning.
Also relevant is that magic comes at a price. “Regardless of what you seem to believe, you owe a tremendous debt”, Doctor Strange is informed, “and if you do not pay it immediately the penalty will be unimaginable”. Waid hasn’t had Strange using the customary incantations, but he’s used them freely in the past, and Waid’s neat concept is of that racking up debt to assorted deities. A remittance if you will.
As he did last time, Waid stitches together single chapters, with one story spilling into two, a connecting thread being questions unanswered. This time he reintroduces those who’ve helped the Master of the Mystic Arts in the past, and a couple of old enemies, which is always nice to see, but doing so removes the level of freshness Across the Universe had.
Going some way to compensate are three short stories ending the book, drawn respectively by Butch Guice, Kevin Nowlan and Daniel Acuña. Guice for some reason attempts a form of Gene Colan’s style rather than the refinement he’s developed over the years, and it’s an awkward hybrid, but Nowlan and Acuña deliver the goods. Nowlan illustrates the longest story of the three, rejigging an old Stan Lee and Steve Ditko classic with a modern twist, and Acuña gets to reveal Nightmare’s nightmare.
This is very readable, just not as compelling as Across the Universe. Herald is next.