‘The Death of Doctor Strange’ hits the academy that bears his name, and while school might be out for the time being there are still lessons to be learned by a few of the student body. A fun and gorgeous issue delving into the backstory of two characters while also presenting a well-orchestrated artist jam that showcases a ton of the Academy’s student body.
Alas, Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, has been murdered and the entire world and the world beyond are at extreme risk. One of the places the hardest hit though is the academy that bears his name that the man founded to help bring about the next generation of magic users within the Marvel Universe.
For the past, just about year, Strange Academy has been a truly delightful series that not only proves that teenage-focused series can and do work in the comic book realm, but also that telling magical stories at Marvel doesn’t need to be complicated. With Strange’s death event storyline happening this book 100% had to have a tie-in issue.
Skottie Young uses this tie-in issue not to delve into what Strange’s loss is doing to the universe, other books are handling that, but instead frames it as a way to see the effects on the students of this academy. Specifically, the first story deals with fleshing out the backstory of the Asgardian brothers Alvi and Iric, the sons of the Enchantress.
Through the series so far, the brothers have bounced back and forth between being fun allies to the other students to sometimes antagonists to other students. There were glimpses of their tense relationship with their mother in issue ten, but here we get the full story. Having Enchantress promise her children to a wizard (because she never expected to have any) who was then defeated by Strange be one of the threats arising out of Strange’s death was a great choice. One because it’s so in character for Enchantress, but also because it shows that Strange’s demise isn’t just about huge stakes but also smaller more personal things the man helped deal with over the years.
Weirdworld is one of the most fun and intriguing things to be revived in 2015’s Secret Wars event, and it’s a true shame that after two mini-series and some occasional appearances it doesn’t show up more often. This issue taps into a lot of the realms of strange and weird that come with comic books, which is truly a strength of this book in so many ways. That all being said, the ending of the story felt sort of abrupt and like it skipped a step or two but overall was a very solid story.
If one is going to Weirdworld, it’s almost required that you try and get Mike Del Mundo to draw it, since he was the one to bring life to this new version of the realm in the 2015 minis. There is just something magical about Del Mundo’s artwork, which fits since this is a realm of magic in a book about magic. There is a ton of detail and great facial/body language emotional range within the work but at the same time it’s not afraid to let things slip into the more unrealistic/fantastical realm from slightly off proportions to various elements taking on a different life.
This is also reflected in the colors from Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso, which run through all the various levels of the color spectrum while adding an almost watercolor-like sensation to everything. Comic books are a place where the unimaginable and fantastical happens on the regular, and this is the sort of artwork that lives up to that notion with every single page. And one cannot forget the awesome lettering work done by Clayton Cowles, whose presence is felt and seen on so many books, bringing the emotion to so much of the dialogue and dropping in some solid fun SFX along the way.
Another great element of this book is that the back portion was used as a way for Young to show off what the other students are up to as they return home for a short period of time following Strange’s death. To do this, a whole slew of great artists was tapped to come to play with the characters for a page. This included Nico Henrichon, Peach Momoko, Humberto Ramos, Alessandro Cappuccio, Gustavo Duarte, C.F. Villa, David Baldeon, Luciano Vecchio, and Natacha Bustos with Edgar Delgado providing colors for many of the pages and Cowles still on the lettering.
Every artist brings their own flavor along to these one-page stories, that are glimpses into the student’s lives and situations. This is a great way to do an artist jam, and it’s great that Marvel tapped a ton of the artists that are doing stellar work on many of their other books to come to play here.
Strange Academy Presents: The Death of Doctor Strange #1 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.