By Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo
The mysterious adversaries known as the Empirikul have finally started to move in full force on Earth. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme and perhaps the only one left, does his best to fend of the forces at his current location, the Temple of Watoomb, under the sea. As he tries to alert all of the magic users on the planet and elsewhere, Wong travels to a remote location to try to keep Doctor Strange alive via a shocking secret…
There are very few comics that lately that find that perfect balance between levity and drama. As dire as the circumstances are in this Marvel comic, Jason Aaron is able to keep the material entertaining. This is done through the arrogant and sarcastic voice of Strange and the amazing locations, events and characters that are presented in the material. One never knows what they’re going to see when turning the page. By bringing the entire magic side of Marvel into focus, the story becomes enriched and engrossing. Chris Bachalo takes Aaron’s scripts and just runs with them to take readers on fantastic journeys and adventures. There may be a couple knit-picky flaws, but the overall presentation overpowers those shortcomings.
This is the second issue in a row where a flashback opens the book that basically establishes a key theme or element of the comic. If this becomes a recurring format, that would be totally fine because this creative team makes it work wonderfully and never make the approach heavy-handed. What’s also interesting to note is that the focus is more on Wong’s secret that’s he’s kept from Stephen and its revelation to the readers. It’s a fascinating subplot that just cements the depths that this series is capable of. Bachalo uses a lot of close-ups in the panels during this sequence to drive home the poignancy. The contrast of the white setting (innocence if you will or element of good) against the troubling nature or “horror” of what is actually taking place really resonates strongly.
Doctor Strange continues to be an engaging mystical adventure. The bizarre and sometimes disturbing are never shied away from in this comic and that’s what this character and his story is all about. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo seem to have captured some the Eye of Agamotto’s light in a bottle and it looks like they’re on track to continue treading this mysterious path like a force of nature!