Doctor Strange #13 // Review
Galactus. Devourer of worlds. A being of massive power who was reborn at the dawn of the universe from the remains of the one that came before it. He’s a being of pure science. He is cast into the darkness of a realm of magic that only Doctor Strange can free him from in Part Two of the “Herald Supreme” story. Writer Mark Waid tells a story drawn by Barry Kitson with finishes by Scott Koblish and Scott Hanna. Waid contrasts Dr. Strange against Galactus and Dormammu in a fun interaction that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
Galactus has been trapped in the Mystic Realm. He’s a being of advanced science trapped in an entirely magical realm. Doctor Strange’s diagnosis isn’t good: a world-devourer consuming magical energies that he’s not acclimated to is going to endanger himself AND the rest of the universe. Galactus had been there at the beginning. He’d survived a gravitational singularity of seemingly infinite density that contained all of the mass of space-time in the universe before it all expanded in the Big Bang. He’s integral to the structure of the universe and he’s consuming magical energies. If Doctor Strange can’t get him out of the Mystic Realm, things could get very, very ugly.
In tackling a big Galactus story, Mark Waid is jumping right into the incredibly volatile cosmology of the Marvel Universe. Science and magic have a strange relationship in the Marvel Universe and there’s no universal continuity to a world pasted together from the works of various authors, but Waid does a pretty good job of writing an original story of a massive godlike being of science teetering on the brink of the total annihilation of the whole universe. It’s maddeningly difficult to frame the intensity of the danger here, though. Waid isn’t able to find the right scope to show the insanely huge power of the forces at work in this issue.
Kitson, Koblish, and Hanna are playing in visuals that have roots going back to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. The two distinctly different visual styles don’t mesh terribly well in this issue. The ridiculously large scale of the action here is incredibly difficult to frame. Ditko and Kirby were masters of cosmic-level action. The best Kitson and company can do is deliver iconic images to the page that frame some of the drama. It’s respectable, but it’s nowhere near as intense as it should be.
The overall story Waid and Kitson are delivering here is genuinely fun and interesting, but the execution lacks the kind of brilliance needed to live up to some of the most cosmic forces in the Marvel Universe. Not actually bad, but it’s a fun story that could have been awesome if it had been framed in a better way. As the story continues next issue, Waid and Kitson are likely to draw more on character development with Strange in a way that will distract from the cosmic scope of the action. The hero is joining forces with his ex-wife Clea as the dread Dormammu waits in the shadows. With any luck, that will put the story on a firmer, more manageable footing.