REVIEW: ‘The Death of Doctor Strange,’ Issue #1

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The Death of Doctor Strange #1

The Death of Doctor Strange #1 is written by Jed MacKay, illustrated by Lee Garbett, colored by Antonio Fabela, and lettered by VC’s Cory Petit. It is published by Marvel Comics. For years, Stephen Strange has protected Earth from all manner of magic threats as the Sorcerer Supreme. But that time is about to come to an end. A mysterious force crosses dimensions, killing all it sees, and Strange is next on its list!

Death in comics has often been the subject of much debate. When most characters die, they often come back in a short amount of time-lessening the stakes and the emotional impact. This series does the opposite, building up to its titular death by showcasing a day in Strange’s life. From his work as a surgeon to his teaching at Strange Academy, mixed with the usual world-saving duties, this comic shows how much of an impact Strange has had on the Marvel Universe—and makes his death hit even harder when his friends discover his dying body. The very end of the issue also contains a major twist that I never saw coming but actually manages to keep the impact of Strange’s death intact while also subverting the “he’ll come back eventually” trope that comic book fans have come to know.

A large part of this is thanks to MacKay’s skillful scripting. Having tackled other Marvel characters, including Moon Knight and Black Cat, MacKay now turns to the world of Doctor Strange and proves to be just as adept in scripting the Sorcerer Supreme. Strange narrates the issue, discussing the legend of Koschei the Deathless—a being who managed to achieve immortality. Suffice it to say, said legend ends up playing a major role in the end sequence, and it’s a testament to MacKay’s skills that he doesn’t hammer the audience over the head with Strange’s impending death. MacKay also pays tribute to other writers’ runs, including Donny Cates and Mark Waid; Bats the Ghost Dog makes an appearance from Cates’ run while Strange’s career as a surgeon is pulled from Waid’s.

Garbett and Fabela tackle art duties, bringing the weird world of Doctor Strange to life. Eagle-eyed Marvel fans will notice appearances from characters including Strange’s partner Wong and his archnemesis Baron Mordo, as well as other magic users including Baron Voodoo and the X-Men’s Magik. Strange himself is shown in a variety of outfits, including medical scrubs and his trademark Sorcerer Supreme garb; his spells take all different shapes as well, from the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to golden blasts of energy. Fabela delivers a bright color palette that takes a darker shade when Strange dies; however, Petit’s caption boxes are colored the traditional gold and red that are associated with Strange.

The Death of Doctor Strange #1 serves as a wonderful tribute to the Sorcerer Supreme while putting a fresh spin on the usual tropes associated with death in comics. With the rest of the series and multiple one-shots set to explore the aftermath of Strange’s death, the story has only begun—and we’ve yet to learn the identity of Strange’s assassin.

The Death of Doctor Strange #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

The Death of Doctor Strange #1
5

TL;DR

The Death of Doctor Strange #1 serves as a wonderful tribute to the Sorcerer Supreme while putting a fresh spin on the usual tropes associated with death in comics. With the rest of the series and multiple one-shots set to explore the aftermath of Strange’s death, the story has only begun—and we’ve yet to learn the identity of Strange’s assassin.