Doctor Strange #11 // Review
Physician/Magician Doctor Strange’s dealings with debts of magical power have brought him face-to-face with the single most menacing recurring evil he has ever faced Part Two of the “Remittance” story written by Mark Waid with art by Jesus Saiz and Javier Pina. Color is brought to the issue by Saiz and Rachelle Rosenberg. It’s always fascinating to see a hero tangle with a villain that goes back over half a century in page and panel, but Waid and Saiz fail to make this particular encounter all that memorable in an otherwise respectably entertaining issue-length combat with a powerful entity.
At the issue’s opening, Dr. Strange stands atop a building staring down the dread Dormammu...a powerful entity from the Dark Dimension who has been facing Strange on the comics page since 1964. Strange confronts the entity directly as a group of his trusted allies follow a subtle hint he’s given them to aid in the battle with Dormammu...a conflict that doesn’t really wrap-up until two pages before the end of the issue.
It takes a hell of a lot of guts to center an entire issue around a single combat...magical or otherwise. Waid deserves some credit for this alone. Sadly, however, there’s very little in the background on the combat and its eventual resolution that feels terribly engaging. Strange and Dormammu are engaging in head games with each other while exchanging blasts on a rooftop in Manhattan. The mystical wonder that has sometimes accompanied the long-running rivalry at points in the past is sadly missing here. It is fun seeing to old foes square off again, but the appeal of that is severely limited if there isn’t going to be some kind of spin on things to keep it fresh.
Saiz and Pina worked well on the previous issue, which involved a lot of weird visuals. Here they’re faltering a bit. The art style vividly brings human emotion to the page with very sophisticated faces with a profound amount of emotion coming through, but the crazy fantastic that rests in the realms of Marvel magic simply isn’t here. We get a remarkably real emotional journey accompanied by powerful blasts that are given impressive luminosity by colorists Saiz and Rosenberg, but a magical combat between tow of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful magic users really needs to have more visual impact in order for this issue to live up to its potential.
The combat that plays out in this issue isn’t terribly interesting, but it IS part of a larger movement for Doctor strange that seems to be pushing the Master of the Mystic Arts in an interesting direction. Barry Kitson takes over the art with the next issue, which places Doctor Strange in the path of the world-devourer Galactus. So...y’know...things aren’t going to get any easier for him in March.