Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange (2015) Issues 1 through 20

Details: Published by Marvel Comics. Mostly written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

I’ve never been a big fan of Doctor Strange. I’ve enjoyed watching him interact with other characters in the Marvel Universe, like when he was in the Illuminati or when he was god Doom’s sheriff. That changed with this series. They invoked one of my comic book weaknesses; they got Bachalo to do art.

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Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Details: About an hour an fifteen minutes long. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelson and Rachel McAdams.

The feeling I had after watching this movie was… disappointment. What a waste of an opportunity. I walked into this movie expecting something along the lines of Antman; I was expecting a modernized, original twist on the old Doctor Strange origin story. I was expecting an introduction to the mystic arts. What I got was a retelling of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man movie, except with magic. This is an entertaining movie, I just wasn’t surprised or wowed to the level I was in Ant-Man. There is just very little original ideas in this movie that haven’t been done in other films, and what is done just doesn’t deliver.

The premise is this: Doctor Stephen Strange is a brilliant, arrogant neurosurgeon that gets into a car accident and destroys the nerves in his hands, ending his career as a surgeon. Strange starts looking for a cure for his ailment and in his search, he meets the Ancient One, a powerful sorcerer. The Ancient one teaches Strange magic and Strange takes on the responsibility of protecting the Earth from mystical threats.

There’s a lot about this movie that I didn’t like, so we may as well start with the acting. This isn’t Cumberbatch’s best performance, but he is adequate. I will say that I quickly forgot about his English accent after a few minutes into the film. Mads Mikkelson and Rachel McAdams are underused and just a waste of good talent. Chiwetel Ejiofor has a surprisingly involved role, which is great considering the caliber of actor he is. The acting is still pretty unimpressive here despite all these big names.

The writing is disappointing. As I wrote earlier, this is just an attempt at retelling the old Doctor Strange origin with no twist or modernization. Ant-Man was a heist movie mixed into a superhero movie. Captain America: Winter Soldier was a political-spy thriller mixed into a superhero movie. You’d think Marvel would recognize these successes and try something new with the tone and style of this film. Unfortunately, they don’t. They have the same jokey, jolly, not serious style from Iron Man, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, which really doesn’t support this subject matter. Some of the jokes in this film are so bad they just kind of ruin the moment and make the film look like that dorky kid in class who tries too hard to be funny, who can’t read the mood. I think Doctor Strange could have been an incredible supernatural or horror film, something along the lines of Constantine. Unfortunately, what we get is a movie tonally similar to Iron Man, but with magic.

What I did like about this movie were the visuals. There is some really trippy imagery going on. Unfortunately, a corny, unsatisfactory story made it hard for me to immerse myself into this movie.

Score: 5.8/10 Okay movie. Not great. Had high expectations and was disappointed. Felt very derivative to the other Marvel movies and increased my superhero movie fatigue. You can tell there were a lot of good ideas here, the execution just wasn’t exemplary.

Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange #1 (2015)

I love Bachalo’s art. I’ve loved it since the Ultimate X-Men vs. the Ultimates crossover. So when I hear he is drawing a book, I am already sold. I am happy to report that this books is everything I wanted it to be, in terms of art and in terms of story.

This book is a true relaunch of the Doctor Strange character. Historically, Doctor Strange was the foremost authority of all things mystical in the Marvel Universe. His character was akin to that of Doctor Fate in the DC Comics universe. That is, Doctor Strange was a bookish, old sage of a man, a magical wizard kind of like Gandalf or Merlin. He was someone you would consult with when world ending magics were at hand.

This current incarnation of Doctor Strange is something different. He’s kind of a hipster doctor who makes house calls. The tone of the character reminds me heavily of Constantine, kind of an off color, cool dude. Doctor strange now wears a scarf not because he’s cold, but because it’s fashionable. Doctor Strange now likes hanging out in a bar versus a library. Doctor Strange also likes kissing chicks, demon chicks, but still chicks. Doctor Strange also likes fighting with swords and battle axes.

It’s an interesting take on the character and does a lot to bring him further down to earth and far more digestible for main stream audiences. It suggests a lot about what Marvel plans to do in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. If this is the direction the film will take, I approve.

Score: 8.2/10 An interesting relaunch that keeps somethings, but changes a lot and explores a character many might not be familiar with. Bachalo’s art is great as always. A great read that I would consider buying when it comes out in trade paperback.