Can Doctor Strange save the universe AND his lady love? Your Major Spoilers review of Doctor Strange #17 awaits!
Storytellers: Barry Kitson & Mark Waid
Finishes: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 14, 2019
Previously in Doctor Strange: The stakes have never been higher for Stephen Strange! Not only is the Multiverse in jeopardy but so is the love of Stephen’s life!
Can Strange save both existence and Clea?!
STEPHEN STRANGE: SURGEON OF REALITY
Soooo, the entire universe has been destroyed, as Doctor Strange struck Galactus, the World-Devourer with a mystic weapon and caused him to collapse the universe, preparing for another big bang. Only by an infernal miracle does he even exist, as the death of reality dragged him to Hell, thanks to an earlier bargain with Mephisto. Now, he is all that exists, including Eternity itself, but he has an idea: Cosmic surgery to restore reality as it once was. With the help of The Living Tribunal, he painstakingly rebuilds reality bit by bit, recreating not only the heroes, but the dictators, villains and jerks exactly as it was. He’s even forced to relive and reconstruct his own failures or risk the whole thing collapsing once more, and we see his most terrible battle and his greatest losses. The only alteration allowed is one adjustment, four days before the end of all that is: Placing Zoloz of Zarax, whose actions set the events in motion, in an impenetrable barrier inside his sanctum sanctorum, allowing them to just… talk. Strange’s gambit is successful, but as the issue ends, he finds himself in hell once more, as Mephisto calls in his marker.
CONVERSATIONS WITH ETERNITY
As a general rule, I find “everything is on the line” stories to be kind of numbing, but Waid’s script keeps everything very approachable in these pages, thanks in part to Eternity being a representation of Strange himself, the only thing left in existence. The reweaving of reality focuses on things that mean something in a Marvel Universe context, such as Captain America’s debut, WWII, the battles with Thanos and Strange’s own adventures, making it all feel personal for the sorcerer supreme. Kitson and Koblish provide a very Ditko-esque take on the Doctor, forgoing the usual slick finish of a Kitson page for a rougher, old-school vibe that really appeals to me. (I also like the fact that Eternity wears Strange’s chest emblem, reflecting the nature of the new, limited reality, one of many cool visual touches in the issue.) The big reveal of what Mephisto wants not only hurts our hero and makes for a great dramatic moment, it makes a not-so-interesting previous appearance by Mephisto a little more interesting by making it part of a grander gambit on the devil’s part, something that I greatly appreciate.
BOTTOM LINE: BIG-SCREEN LARGE-SCALE MAGICAL ADVENTURE
In short, this issue makes for a great ending to the arc, providing consequences both universal and very personal, and making it clear that a Sorcerer Supreme must sacrifice even his own happiness for the greater good of reality. Doctor Strange #17 is a good’n, with big magical craziness that doesn’t eclipse the hero’s humanity and a really fun art job that gives us the Cliffs Notes version of history (including The Rawhide Kid!), earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I had lost track of Doctor Strange’s adventures for a while, and now I’m sorry that I did.
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DOCTOR STRANGE #17
Ditko-inspired art and a balance of the macro and micro-scale makes for a great read.