Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reader's Diary #1217- Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Marcos Martin (Artist): Doctor Strange, The Oath

Again, another Marvel character that I'm not overly familiar with, Doctor Strange is nonetheless being made part of the ever growing and ever great Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role!), and therefore I need to brush up.

I'm told that The Oath is a good place to start. Reviews I've read seemed to applaud the story, plus it gets into Doctor Strange's origins (important for a newbie like me) without it being the entire focus (important for those already familiar). And, of course, it's the critically acclaimed Brian K. Vaughan behind it, writer of Saga, Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad and more, so I felt it was a pretty safe bet that I would enjoy it.

I did. While skeptical I'd find it all a bit silly (not just the fact that Doctor Strange's superpower is magic, but also that ridiculous cape), I was immediately swept up in the story, suspending my belief without hesitation.

In this tale, Doctor Strange travels to another dimension to secure a magical elixir that will cure his assistant, Wong's, cancer. It turns out to be even more powerful than he thought which makes him a target of an evil pharmaceutical company, and their very own magic henchman.

The cancer bit, at first, threw me for a loop. Perhaps a bit too real, a bit too tragic, when I'm trying to have fun with a Marvel comic, but that feeling was short lived. Plus, beyond the plot, the characters themselves were compelling enough to keep me going. The villain is not as flat out sinister as many comic book villains, the presence of Night Nurse (whom I've only heard whisperings of in Daredevil conversations) was a nice bonus. But Strange himself was also fascinating. His past and his ethics make him, frankly, more complex than strange but that's a good thing. I also thought the humour, particularly where his character is concerned, was well done. It's not one wise crack after another like Spider-Man or Iron Man, but there are occasional glimpses. At the end I didn't feel like I knew everything I needed to know about Doctor Strange, but just enough that I want to learn more.

The art was just okay. I'm a sucker for rich, detailed backgrounds, and Marcos proved capable here or there, but too often just seemed to the go very minimalist. There was also nothing particularly inventive or new.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Is it just me, or does Doctor Strange look a little like Lionel Ritchie on that cover? I really need to start reading graphic novels.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: I think that might just be you. Perhaps it looks like that bust of Ritchie from the "Hello" video. I'll give you that. Actually, no way! If I have a clay Lionel Ritchie bust that baby's staying with me.