Doctor Strange #10
Jason Aaron (A) Chris Bachalo and various inkers (C) Chris Bachalo with Rain Beredo (L) Cory Petit
This week’s issue of Doctor Strange concludes writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo’s first big story on the series, “The Last Days of Magic”. It has been an expansive tale pulling from Doctor Strange’s long history, using a wide array of other Marvel superheroes, and fundamentally altering how magic works (at least briefly). The finale of the story doesn’t feel especially big though.
The plotting and narration of Doctor Strange #10 informs readers of the importance of what is occurring, but none of it is grounded in tone or character. At his apparently bleakest moment, Strange moves between despairing dialogue and Spider-Man-esque banter. Nothing feels especially dark because the three characters central to the final conflict are largely undeveloped. Both the “Thing in the Basement” and Imperator are character types and their fates feel inconsequential. Those fates and much of the action seem to be based on contrivance and convenience; what needs to happen, rather than what inevitably must happen.
Bachalo’s work is every bit as good here as it has been throughout the current volume of Doctor Strange. The “Thing in the Basement” comes out in a big way this issue and shows off how well the artist utilizes both design and space. It is a truly monstrous entity and the manner in which its death mask is used is as chilling as anything you’ll encounter in superhero comics this year. Relative size of characters and the space (or lack thereof) they occupy gives a clear sense of power dynamics and the ebb and flow of action. Special attention should be paid to letterer Cory Petit who melds his own balloons seamlessly with the most twisted of Bachalo’s panels. The reading experience is as smooth as could be imagined with artwork and dialogue twisting into one another in a visually pleasing and not-too-noticeable manner.
And so Doctor Strange #10 is an effective entertainment. The monsters are scary and the action is enjoyable enough. It lacks in impact in spite of the many consequences explained at its conclusion. Everything is terrible, but it rests on the foundation of a story that never gives you very many reasons to care. Reading this comic might be a fine way to spend a little time, but it will flicker out of your skull as quickly as it entered.
— Chase Magnett