Strange Blood In The Aether

After reading and reviewing the first two volumes of the new Doctor Strange comic, I was curious how they would continue the series. I mean, the last volume ended with magic as we know it being exterminated from the world, and the last vestiges of it trapped in items (many of which were weakened and/or being the last of whatever they were), making the idea of a Sorcerer Supreme a concept that is almost laughable.

So how’d they handle it and what’d I think? Well, take a look!

==The Pitch==

Doctor Strange: Blood in the Aether is the third volume of the All New Doctor Strange.

After the Empirikul attacked his reality and the magic within it, Doctor Strange is finding himself in new territory: his magic doesn’t work, and he is out trying to find new spells and new sources of magic so that he may continue protecting the world from supernatural threats.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned. . .

==What You Get==

We are given a fast-paced comic with a bit of who’s-who among the good doctor’s villains, with appearances by Satanna, Baron Mordo, the Orb, the newly-named Mister Misery, and even Dormammu himself.

==The Good==

Once again, the artwork is sharp with a great attention to the various details. As this new Doctor Strange is more reliant on relics and artifacts than before (perhaps a nod to the new film?), the attention to detail is greatly appreciated, as it is quite clear early on that he’s not wearing the same Cloak as before, nor are the various items he is carrying around simply mundane “things.”

The book also doesn’t give you time to be bored; when I say “fast paced,” I absolutely mean that. It feels as though Strange runs into a villain or two with each issue from this set, leaving you wondering what’s going to happen next and who’s going to come out of the woodwork.

We also see a new face to Doctor Strange, in this case, an obvious fall from grace similar to his origin story. Everything that made up the character of Strange has been taken away, and he’s trying to rebuild from the ground up, and we as readers are being shown this process with only a few bits of hand waving (pun intended) during the process.

==The Bad==

Primarily, I felt it was a bit TOO rushed.

We’re dropped in shortly after the events with the Empirikul, and Strange is doing the same thing he was doing in the first issue of the new series: getting rid of supernatural parasites from passers-by. Of course, his usual magical hijinks don’t work, so he goes back to get some material support, and is warned that the old spells don’t work while there’s only a handful of newly created spells that do.

Then the rush begins. We run into Mordo, who still has magic for some reason. We get Nightmare, who still has his powers (apparently never found by the Empirikul). We run into Satanna, who is now running her own version of Hell (not sure what happened to it). We run into the Orb, of all people, still cursed with the Watcher’s eye. We even get Dormammu, who also still has his powers even though he’s faced the Empirikul.

In the end, we get the feeling of “villain of the week” as Strange tries to overcome these foes, as they all (except the Orb) want him dead.

This just felt like shoddy storytelling. We don’t get an explanation as to why most of these beings are still powered and, if they want Strange dead, why they don’t do so outright (due to his lack of power). We also get zero input as to how Strange has any of the magic we see him use, why “new spells” have to be made if the world’s magic was destroyed (or at least nearly destroyed), and why his one Big Spell actually worked even though it was an old incantation.

If anything, this volume gave me more questions than I walked in with, and I really don’t know how I feel about that.

==The Verdict==

Doctor Strange: Blood in the Aether is getting slightly lower than the previous volumes in the series, and is leaving with 3 buns.

The pacing and lack of explanation is what’s really killing it for me. I understand that as everything is All New (and that reference shows up WAY too often, even making an appearance in this book), things have to change, but when you don’t explain HOW things are changing, it gets a bit frustrating for me.

Still, it’s an interesting continuation of the series with some decent plot points and great art (a saving point, honestly) if you get beyond the feeling of things being rushed and the overemphasis of how things are All New, All Different, All Repeated As We Find Our Footing!

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