Monday, October 09, 2006

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1
This is a welcome change of pace. A miniseries about Doctor Strange that's actually about Doctor Strange. One that doesn't try to revamp him and make him "hipper" for a new generation of comics readers. Doctor Strange has always been archaic, and that's part of his charm, but another essential part of his allure is that he is a licensed physician, well-versed in medicine as well as spiritual remedies. Sadly, this aspect of his personality is often neglected, in favor of the more mystical aspects of his nature. Yet they need not exist independently of one another. And this book gets it right.
It also provides insight into the complex nature of Strange's relationship with his servant, Wong, one that highlights the personal friendship between the two men, and shows how they complement each other's abilities.
And, as a hook, we get a glimpse of the "Night Nurse"'s waiting room, occupied by Arana and Iron Fist, both waiting to have injuries attended to, when Wong comes crashing in with his master, who has been shot. As the Night Nurse attends to Strange's injuries, his astral form converses with her, filling her in on the details of how he ended up in this condition. Apparently, Wong has an inoperable brain tumor, and has no more than three months to live. Characteristically, Doctor Strange wants a second opinion. He discovers a portal to another dimension where an elder god guards an elixir which can potentially cure Wong. Battling the god and emerging victorious, Strange performs tests on the elixir prior to administering it, discovering, to his surprise, that it is in fact the panacea for all cancers.
This is a VERY GOOD issue. I'm hesitant to rate it higher, because I've been burned before, but Brian K. Vaughan shows tremendous respect for his source material, as always, and his characters talk like normal people. With Marcos Martin pencilling, Alvaro Lopez on inks, and Javier Rodriguez coloring, the art is beautiful, and well-suited to a Doctor Strange tale. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

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