In an event fittingly titled The Death of Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange died. Of course, months later he’s done what every superhero does and returned to publication. Of course, it looks like the dear Doctor is very far away from the Land of the Living. Where is he? Well, it’s only one mystery put forth by Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise, which is drawn and written by Tradd Moore and colored by Heather Moore.
Right from the wrap-around cover, you can feel that this is going to be a modern classic. Fall Sunrise is first and foremost a stunning display of Moore’s artistic prowess. It immediately demands your attention with this colorful kaleidoscope of magic, various versions of Strange, and things that defy any sort of explanation. They melt against and fuse into one another until they give way to the main depiction of Doctor Strange, standing defiantly with a bizarre landscape and twisted, malevolent fortress in the background. The way Moore draws Strange is absolutely haunting, but in a beautiful way. He’s clad in his classic Steve Ditko outfit, but his design is greatly improved by something I’ve wanted Doctor Strange to have for quite a while: long hair. His clothing flows ethereally and lacks any creases, which is a genius little detail because it subtly sets him apart from his surroundings. Doctor Strange appears as simplistic as possible, while most of the creatures and settings that surround him have immensely intricate linework. This is a great little shorthand to tell readers that the Sorcerer Supreme is a stranger to this peculiar realm.
This disorienting wonderland is truly breathtaking, from its shallow streams teeming with monstrosities to its labyrinthine cityscapes. This odyssey takes Strange and the readers to enchanted spectacles that are difficult to describe, even though they just make sense when you see them. At one point, our hero stands before an immense golden mass with watchful eyes and serpentine arcs plunging in and out of it. I couldn’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you that it’s mesmerizing. The book is overflowing with imagery that couldn’t work in any medium besides a comic book, such as when Strange moves through battle in a way that causes him to appear in multiple places at once while his cloak is a singular, uninterrupted ribbon of fabric that bonds all of the Stranges together. One issue in, and Moore has established himself as one of the definitive artists for this character and his weird, weird world. This is especially apparent in the frantic flashes of Strange’s past that we get: the car wreck, the Ancient One, Baron Mordo, Dormammu, the Sanctum Sanctorum, and Wong. It’s all instantly recognizable the second you see it, but Moore’s art gives it a freshness that fittingly puts you into the mind of a man rediscovering his life in an instant.
The writing is cryptic and difficult to decipher, but in a way that feels purposeful. Doctor Strange has no idea what’s going on, so why should we? The words accompanying the dazzling art come across as a sort of Rorschach test: what they mean is what you bring to them. We get a smidge of context as Strange does things like put a restless spirit at ease, but for the most part things seem a bit more open to interpretation.
Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise is one of the most beautiful and imaginative comics that Marvel’s put out. It’s absolute magic, and you’re going to want to treat yourself to this one.