REVIEW BY MATT MORRISON
Stephen Strange – A Surgeon Once More?!
Forced to surrender his title as Sorcerer Supreme to the Norse god Loki, Stephen Strange went off in search of power that would allow him to fight a wizard and a deity. He found all the power he wanted and more. So much more…
Stephen Strange is now the god of magic. Or at least so rich in magical power he might as well be a god compared to what he once was. And what good is power if you cannot use it to do great deeds in the name of good?
This line of thought leads Stephen to attempt something that would have been beyond his former limits – both the limits of his power and the limits imposed upon The Sorcerer Supreme. Having learned of the recent destruction of Las Vegas, Stephen uses his power to restore the city to what it once was.
At first all seems well…until a great tower emerges in the middle of the Vegas Strip, with a sign declaring it the Hotel Inferno. It seems that when the city was destroyed, its spiritual essence fell into Hell, where the demons were quick to mark their claim on the new territory. Now Las Vegas is a literal Sin City, and Boss Mephisto holds all the cards. It is an error that Doctor Strange must correct, though it may cost him his soul to do it!
I’m a bit torn on Doctor Strange: Damnation. On the one hand, the concept of this series makes no sense considering everything I know of Doctor Strange as a character from other stories and series. Granting that he is apparently riding some kind of power trip, it doesn’t seem all that credible that Stephen Strange would try to resurrect an entire city without considering the consequences of doing so and the cosmic balance and all that jazz.
Once we work past that conceit, however, the story concept proves amusing enough to carry the momentum of the plot forward despite how out of character the characters seem. Mephisto proves an amusing foil to the stoic Strange and there’s a lot of dark comedy as we see the city responding to various people falling prey to their darker selves as the influence of Hell begins to work its magic on them.
The artwork suits the story, presenting an aesthetic that seems better suited to an off-beat Vertigo or Image title than a Marvel Comics series. There is an inherent inhumanity to the demon characters, no matter how human they might look, with elongated bodies or slightly-off eyes that are all the more disturbing for how familiar they look rather than how inhuman they are. The book also features a fantastic use of color, with warm tints in the Hotel Inferno sequences being used to punctuate the presence of Hell’s power.
While it’s unlikely to win many awards, Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 is a serviceable Doctor Strange story which – based on its ending – may soon become a serviceable story for many more of Marvel Comics mystically-inclined heroes. Can you say New Defenders?
Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 releases February 21, 2018.
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.
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