Dr. Stephen Strange was the world’s greatest neurosurgeon and an arrogant jerk, who only used his skills to help those who could afford his steep fees. A car accident forever injured his hands, leaving him unable to hold a scalpel, much less perform complex surgeries. Desperate to retain his lofty position, Strange spent his fortune traveling the world, looking for anything that might cure him.
In his journeys, Strange came to learn two things. He learned that magic was real and how to wield it for his own purposes. But more importantly, Strange came to learn humility and how ultimately small he was in the grand scheme of things. Thus did Doctor Strange become a wizard and in time earn the title of Sorcerer Supreme; the universe’s chief guardian against mystic evils.
Recently, a bargain with a demon restored Dr. Strange’s hands and nerves to their former glory. This led to a new bargain, with the hospital closest to his home in Greenwich Village. Now Doctor Stephen Strange is once again a practicing surgeon, but he only takes those cases deemed impossible and inoperable by other doctors; not because healing the needy is not worth his time, but because he must now devote himself towards protecting the universe and healing the sick. Unfortunately, the hospital administrators may prove more implacable than the Dread Dormammu and Strange may not be able to keep his promise to keep his other life away from his patients.
Doctor Strange: Surgeon Supreme is an interesting new title and something of a spiritual sequel to Mark Waid’s earlier Indestructible Hulk series. For those who missed it, Indestructible Hulk was built around the idea of Dr. Bruce Banner, tired of living his life on the run while various organizations tried to capture or kill him, going to SHIELD with a bargain: give me a lab where I can work on creating things to help humanity and I’ll let you use the Hulk to do your dirty work. The run of the series was limited, but it offered a neat twist on the classic formula and presented a logical way of dealing with the Hulk that also thrust Bruce Banner into an exciting new role as a SHIELD agent that was as interesting as the bits of the book where Hulk smashed things.
We get a similarly tilted view of the Marvel Universe throughout Doctor Strange: Surgeon Supreme #1, as we see Stephen Strange trying to balance the two halves of his life. Waid puts us inside Strange’s head as he revels in the remembered joy of tackling a medical problem and solving it coupled with the satisfaction in helping people he never felt before. We also get a fun but practical look as to why he commutes instead of teleporting to work and see how he sees various spirits feeding on patients at the hospital but doesn’t work to stop them because it’s better that demons feast on the sorrow of those who lost a loved one than run loose looking for trouble.
Thankfully the issue’s not all looking at the nuts and bolts of the universe, though Waid does excel in writing such stories. There is also plenty of mystic action, as Doctor Strange is pulled from the hospital to deal with a disaster of magical origin. These moments are ably illustrated by Kev Walker, whose dark and detail-driven aesthetic proves a perfect partner to Waid’s script. Both the grime of Manhattan and the glow of the mystic realms are depicted with equal skill and the colors by Java Tartaglia provide the perfect finishes to the final artwork.
If you’re already a Doctor Strange fan, you’re in for a treat. And if you aren’t already a Doctor Strange fan, this book may make you into one. It’s definitely worth a try, at least, if you enjoy tales of magic and superheroes or medical dramas.
Doctor Strange: Surgeon Supreme #1 releases on December 26th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.