This week Doctor Strange’s new series takes off with All New, All Different Marvel (no Secret Wars isn’t over yet), and the sequel to the hit series Batman: Eternal adds “Robin” to the title!
Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)
All New All Different Marvel has begun, and with it comes Doctor Strange, which brings the Sorcerer Supreme back to a monthly series. With the team of Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo (and the fact that there’s a movie coming out in a about a year) there’s a lot riding on this first issue of Doctor Strange. Thankfully, Aaron and Bachalo’s debut issue is a lot of fun., and the perfect book for people who are looking to be introduced to the character.
Stephen Strange has been making house calls. Lots of them. After doing battle with some malevolent “soul leechers” that are attacking a young boy, Strange discovers from their leader that they are fleeing from something. On his way back to this Sanctum Sanctorum, Strange encounters another creature that’s attached to a person’s soul. After asking some of his fellow mystics if they know anything, a young girl visits Strange and reveals the lump on her head. A lump that has hair and teeth, and is not planning on leaving anytime soon…
Much like he did with Thor: God of Thunder, Jason Aaron has crafted a really cool mystery for Doctor Strange. Something is going after magic, and Stephen Strange is just now being made aware of it. Aaron’s script does an excellent job of bringing new readers up to speed with a quick recap of Doctor Strange’s origin, and he really has a great handle on Strange’s voice. He’s pretty snarky at times, but not so much so that you don’t take him seriously as the Sorcerer Supreme. Aaron puts a really cool spin on the use of magic in the Marvel universe as well. In Doctor Strange using magic comes at a cost, and needs to be “balanced out” in some way. Aaron writes Strange more as kind of jaded and haunted by the times he’s had to use magic, and it’s something that he touches on with other Marvel mystics like Scarlet Witch and Brother Voodoo when Strange visits them at a bar.
I’m not usually the biggest fan of Chris Bachalo’s art, but I have to say he’s the perfect fit for this book. Bachalo lets loose on the creature designs here, and seems to be having a blast. There are tons of things to look at in these panels, and the scenes with Strange walking through New York City observing people (and the demons attached to them) are the highlight of the book. If Bachalo keeps this kind of stuff up, Doctor Strange could be a career-defining work for him.
If you’ve been jonesing for a Doctor Strange series after his supporting roles in New Avengers and other Marvel series, you’ll be more than satisfied with this debut. Aaron and Bachalo’s series is a great first issue that sets the stakes and tone of this series right away, and doesn’t waste too much time getting into the story either. The only negative is that I want the next issue right now.
Batman & Robin: Eternal #1 (DC Comics)
Batman Eternal was a huge success for DC comics, so naturally they want to release a sequel. The only problem is that Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman currently. So instead this weekly series focuses on the men who used to be Robin as they work together to confront a mystery from their mentor’s past. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s debut for Batman & Robin Eternal has a lot of potential, but this opening issue is a little too disjointed to at times.
Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham City, and is attempting to figure out not only why the higher ups at Spyral have sent him back, but also why everyone on his team seems to be turning against him. After being beaten by Cassandra Cain (yes, THAT Cassandra Cain), he’s given a USB device that he remembers Batman using when they first starting fighting crime together. When activated, the device plays a message from Bruce that warns Dick of “Mother”, a dangerous enemy from one of their early cases together that not even Batman could stop.
Honestly, the best parts of Batman and Robin Eternal are when the former Robins are all interacting together. Tynion’s script (he and Snyder plotted the series together) has a lot of fun playing the different personalities of Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake off of each other, and it’s easily the highlight of the issue. However, unlike the previous Eternal series, this series starts off with a ton of already established characters. In fact, there’s almost too many characters right away for this first issue. Tynion does an able job of introducing everyone and filling us in on their lives, but he bounces around so much that when he gets to the main plot of the series it feels a little rushed.
Tony Daniel handles the art for this issue, and as always, it’s pretty damn spectacular. The opening pages featuring the former Robins teaming up to take down some thugs is awesome, and showcases just how good Daniel is at depicting superhero action. Of course, it’s not all great, as there are a few weird faces here and there, but by and large Daniel does a fantastic job on this issue.
One of the few problems I had with the original Eternal series was that many of the subplots were pretty boring. Hopefully Snyder and Tynion have solved that problem with this series, but I’m a little worried after having this issue bounce around so much. However, one of the good things of a weekly series is that it moves along fairly quickly, so if you aren’t a fan of one storyline it won’t be dragged out. While this issue was little slow, the final page all but ensures that you’ll grab issue two next week.