The latest issue of Doctor Strange finds our hero in dire straits. Most of the magic in the world has been destroyed, leaving Stephen Strange to battle the vengeance-driven Empirikul with little more than a bow and arrow and his wit. Oh yeah, and a monster that Strange has been keeping in the basement of his Greenwich Village Sanctum Santorum for years.
While facing almost certain death at the Empirikul’s hands, Strange shows an uncommon sense of gallows humor, thanks to Jason Aaron’s writing. “It’s bad enough you’re here to murder me and all my friends,” Strange tells him. “But you don’t have to be such a jerk about it.” It’s this lightheartedness that brings a sense of fun to the character, which in the past has been a bit too dour.
While the premise of the Last Days of Magic story line pits Strange and other magic users like Brother Voodoo and the Scarlet Witch against the Empirikul, the real battle here is magic vs. science. It’s an interesting premise, with no clear winner at the end of the day.
Aaron has been building to this moment since the new series began. He reminded us that magic has a price. We thought initially that only Strange had to pay that price. But it turns out he cheated, by transferring his pain and suffering to the monster. Strange must forge an uneasy truce with the thing in his cellar, convincing it that if the Empirikul kills Strange, the monster will never get its revenge.
It’ll be fascinating to see the monster turn up in the future. And when it does, hopefully the good doctor will keep his sense of humor.
Review by Tom Smithyman