Dr. Strange #1 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4/5 – Frank Brunner’s Art Will Capture You in it’s Spell.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Dr. Strange has had a confusing road when it comes to his own series. He was co-created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963, first appearing in Strange Tales #110. After sharing the title with the Human Torch for over twenty issues, he then shared the Strange Tales title with Nick Fury starting in issue #135 until issue #169 when Dr. Strange took the title all to himself…but that didn’t last long. Low sales forced the cancellation just fourteen issues later and then for a few years, we wouldn’t see Dr. Strange headlining his own title.

Flash forward a few years to 1971 and Dr. Strange stars in Marvel Feature, chronicling the formation of the Defenders. Then once again he headlines a book not his own title, but in Marvel Premiere from #3 to #14, eleven issues of that title before finally getting his first “number one” issue in an on-going series simply titled Dr. Strange. It’s a fitting number one issue for the classic character with absolutely gorgeous art by Frank Brunner, a carry over from Marvel Premiere.

After starting his comics career in the black and white horror magazines, Brunner headed over to Marvel and made an even bigger name for himself handling Dr. Strange. His art in this first issue is stunning, rarely using a typical panel layout, instead telling the story with splash pages, curved and diagonal panels and fantastic action scenes. His art combines realism and the “strange” giving the book the mystic look it needs. Although Brunner didn’t stay on this title too long, the work he produced here is iconic and memorable. This first issue has a jaw dropping cover, and the art on the inside is just as strong.

In terms of story, writer Steve Englehart (also coming over from the Marvel Premiere run) does a great job with the opening using Strange’s love interest Clea as the one through whom new readers are able to get to know Dr. Strange. When the Silver Dagger attacks Clea unexpectedly in Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, the Dr. has to head into the orb of Agamotto to save Clea and himself. The story gets a little weird and hokey towards the end as Englehart tries to throw in a bit of humor amongst the serious and mystical settings, but it’s still a strongly written issue with an ending that makes you want to come back for more.

Dr. Strange is a character that has rarely made it to the A-List, but when he’s presented like this, he can be as strong as any of the other A-list Marvel characters. Brunner and Englehart provide mystery, horror and great character development in this first issue with art that demands to be seen. This is the first issue in a series that had a successful run of over eighty issues and after reading this first issue, you’ll understand why that is.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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