The Man In The Golden Mask: Reviewing ‘Strange’ #5

by Scott Redmond


A secret hidden in plain sight comes to the forefront in a truly delightful team-up issue of ‘Strange’ that moves Clea’s story and her new world forward in big ways that surely will have ripples for quite some time. ‘Strange’ is a magically dark and character-rich series that is a delight to dive into month after month, fully showcasing the power of comic books.


Sometimes the best kinds of magic tricks or surprises are the ones that are pulled off right under the audience’s nose, leaving them to realize all the clues were right in front of them the entire time. They just didn’t put them all together.

That’s what makes the fifth issue of Strange such a delightful one.

Because of the type of writer that he is, Jed MacKay has stuffed a ton into these five issues from establishing Clea as the Earth realm Sorcerer Supreme to introducing a slew of new groups/threats to the usual bucket load of awesome character moments/development. Here we get a glimpse of just what is actually going on with the dead and what the Harvestman is doing, but we get far more than that.

An origin for this new character was inevitable, and upon further reflection, there were plenty of breadcrumbs that should have led to realizing just how was behind that mask but honestly truly, I was caught off guard, pleasantly, with the final reveal. It makes beyond perfect sense and adds so many more layers to what has already come and what is to come in this series. Any time I pick up an issue from MacKay I know that it’s going to be amazing and I’m going to walk away craving the next one right away and falling more in love with characters than I ever have before.

In many other cases, a reveal like this would just start a countdown clock that would mean that Clea’s development and time as a headline character were close to over, but not with MacKay. Black Cat’s ongoing series has ended twice and yet he keeps feeding us more and more awesome Felicia Hardy stuff that keeps her at the forefront of the Marvel Universe. I have no doubt the same will be true of Clea for as long as this series runs.

Also, bringing Moon Knight in to give us a bit of a treat since that’s another awesome series that MacKay is writing was a great touch. I would read a whole series with these two characters bouncing off each other.

Once again, the work that Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi, and Java Tartaglia are bringing to the pages of this series is inspired. There is an inherent darkness/heaviness to everything on the page but also bold bright magical energy radiating from every single panel. With the story on hand, things can go from deadly to so-called normal to funny to heavily emotional in the blink of an eye, and not a beat is missed by this creative team.

Ferreira nails all the magical action scenes as well as all of the deeply emotional ones, as the facial expressions are on point. One can’t help but chuckle at Clea’s ‘rage’ face as she yells at her overbearing mother who keeps insisting, that she should conquer the world. Poggi’s inks bring more weight to everything, helping with the lived-in feeling that this world already has in spades at this point.

Over the past almost two years of writing reviews, I’ve come to notice and highly love the work that many artists put in to do amazing things with panels and whole page sequences. Ferreira just does some really neat and unexpected things, befitting of this medium where anything is possible since there are no budgets or cameras needed to capture things. A full-page sort of panel where half the page is Clea sitting upon a couch and right under it is a POV from behind her on the same couch staring at Moon Knight in his chair. That’s just some darn good comic book stuff right there.

Balancing that fun/light and darkness aspect of the series also falls into Tartaglia’s hands, which is fantastic since we’re treated with a mix of bright flashy magical/superhero color palette for the right moments and darker heavier shadowed palette in other cases. This issue takes place fully at night and the nighttime (both when outside and inside) just feels so authentic, it feels heavy and correctly shadowed/dark with sources of light helping but not washing the darkness away.

We can see the emotion on the page and feel what the character is feeling through their expressions or body language, but thanks to the always great lettering work of Cory Petit we can also hear it. With the right emphasizers and choices in font or bubble structure, the annoyance or sass or fear of a character becomes fully clear, and we the audience can get a sense of their voice in our heads. While adding a lot of fun elements in like colorful balloons for magical things (like Clea shifting to her Dark Dimension form) or the SFX that take on the color and energy of whatever they are attached to on the page.

Strange #5 is now available.

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