DOCTOR STRANGE #24 | Writer: Dennis Hopeless | Penciler: Niko Henrichon | Colorist: Niko Henrichon | Letterer: VC’s Corey Petit | Release Date: August 23, 2017
The pieces are set and the d20’s are in hand. In Doctor Strange #24, the Sorcerer Supreme plays dungeon master in a battle against the dark forces summoned by Baron Mordo beneath the Darkforce Dimension dome that looms over Manhattan. Doctor Strange himself has few cards left to play, while Baron Mordo has been gifted with all of the magic and trinkets that used to belong to Strange himself, so long as he inhabits the Santum Santorum. Still, even with all that power, there is a reason that Strange is a Doctor.
This issue shows the precision skill that the Doctor can use, with the right tools at his disposal. While he’s unable to outmatch Mordo in raw power, he has a tactical expertise that the villainous dark mage couldn’t fathom. In the previous issues, Doctor Strange had been traveling with an unlikely band in pursuit of a mans to defeat Mordo and take down the dome that the Hydra revealed Supreme Leader, Steve Rogers placed overhead. Those are superhero Spider-Woman, Reporter Ben Urich, and Wilson Fisk, Kingpin of crime. In their journey Spider-Woman acquired a sentient plane that is fueled by the pain of those it kills. The Kingpin was granted dark power by an evil mask that sustains itself on his evil crimes of the past. And Ben Urich has found what can only be described as Paladin armor of the light, powered by his pure soul.
I enjoy how the board is set, like a game of checkers or some other table top… say Dungeons & Dragons? The references to the vintage game throughout the issue are classic. Doctor Strange #24 is pure action from cover to cover. Fantasy beings with magical artifacts, trinkets and armor, doing battle against hordes of giant monstrous creatures of the unspoken realms. It feels like a classic show down or final battle on a TV show. In the previous issues all the other heroes were captured but now it’s up to Doctor Strange to face off against his arch nemesis. The justice would be poetic only if it was he that defeats him, right?
Books that show a character’s effectiveness with the odds stacked against them is compelling. The ending grants a feeling of triumph that can’t be felt any other way than a hero overcoming impossible odds. That’s what Strange does here. While the victory wasn’t particularly complex, the effect along with the set up and the way it was accomplished was all the same. This also lends to the hopes that future team ups between Strange and characters like Spider-Woman can take place, but with Dennis Hopeless, Spider-Woman’s most recent writer, we all know that’s bound to happen.
The art in the most recent issues of Doctor Strange have been phenomenal. What is most notable are the heavy applications of sketch lines that seem to add more depth and dimension to each of the characters. At the same time, we get intensely grotesque depictions of monsters and phasmaic depictions of magic. The colors seem often subdued and heavy on the yellows, but I think this may be to paint the “under the dome” effect more clearly. Either way, it’s a good look for the book regardless. Meanwhile the cover gives us insight to the kind of battle that Strange is up against with heavily detailed linework and beautifully layered colors.
Doctor Strange #24 brings the dome arc to a finish, and ends the ill-conceived, but well fitted alliance between Doctor Strange and the Kingpin. I’m looking forward to what Hopeless can bring us in this brand new arc coming out next month. Doctor Strange has been one of Marvel’s most interesting ongoings and Hopeless is continuing that legacy.