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Comic Review: Strange #1 by Mark Waid, Emma Rios, and Christina Strain

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Remember when comics were fun and weird, and sometimes slightly over the top? Mark Waid obviously does, although he’s written his fair share of serious comics over the years. His take on Strange, the new limited series about Dr. Stephen Strange, is an absolute blast. I’m picking up the monthly issues, but I’ve already ordered the graphic novel because I know the story is going to be one I’ll read again and again.

The breaking news in the Marvel Universe regarding the Sorcerer Supreme is that Dr. Strange is no longer Marvel’s reigning master of magic. That post has now been taking over by Brother Voodoo, and I’m interested to see how that transition is going to be done.

In the meantime, though, Strange has been stripped of most of his power, reduced to a few magical spells, and no longer has his chief weapons, the Eye of Agamotto and his cloak of levitation. He’s still on a quest to stop evil in the world, just on a much smaller scale. I like this version of the hero. He’s more of an everyman instead of all spooky and serious. The scene of Strange yelling at the ump at the baseball game just has to be seen and read to be believed.

In this first issue, Strange encounters a young girl named Casey Kinmont, the granddaughter of the owner of the baseball club. I love her character. She’s sassy and pushy and very much her own person.

And she’s probably the only person in several worlds that has called Dr. Strange an “asshat.” I can’t wait to see what Waid does with her in the series. She’s fresh and vital, and totally of this generation of kids.

The plot involving the demons playing baseball players for their souls has been done in various ways, so it’s not really new. But it serves perfectly to set up this mini-series and introduce the characters to the readers.

The thing I really love about this issue, though, is the art. Emma Rios’s pencils are pure eye candy to look at. The panel breakdowns are perfect and convey emotion, movement, and pure magic of the weirdest sort. It’s not quite in Steve Ditko territory, but boy is it fun. But the real kicker is Christina Strain’s colors.

Strain lays in bright, vibrant colors that just POP off the page. After reading the issue, I went back through it just to look at the art.

I also loved the baseball metaphors Waid leavens into the script. I remember a standout issue of Impulse that he did years ago that I read to my son because he was playing Little League at the time and was struggling with batting. Waid’s love of the game shows and I enjoyed the story even more for that.

I’m not sure exactly where Waid is headed with Strange, but I do know that I’m along for the ride. Wherever he goes with the character, it’s gonna be a treat.

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