Strange Gives Doctor Stranges Supporting Cast the Spotlight

With the release of Strange #10, Adam looks back at Jed Mackay’s Strange and the spotlight it shone on Doctor Strange’s supporting cast.

Following Jed MacKay’s Death of Doctor Strange mini-series, Strange shone a rare spotlight on Clea Strange, niece of the dread Dormammu, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension, and when deals with the devil haven’t made both of them forget it, wife of Doctor Strange.  With Stephen dead, Clea and Wong (and Bats, the ghost dog) were left to pick up the pieces and take on the mantle and duties of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.  While doing all that, Clea tries desperately to bring her husband back while up against undead superheroes, the mysterious Blasphemy Cartel and Death herself.

Jed MacKay has been consistently proving himself as one of Marvel’s best writers in the past few years, from Black Cat to Moon Knight to Taskmaster, and Strange has further cemented that position.  Continuity is a tool that can make or break a book, but MacKay knows how to weave his stories through the Marvel Universe in ways that only enhance what he’s doing while never making you feel obligated to read a million other books to understand what’s going on. However, his real strength lies in his characters; Clea is such a unique character and MacKay does a great job of contrasting her and Stephens’s approach to super heroics and even the types and consequences of the spells they cast. Clea approaches every situation differently from her husband, and that’s never seen as a bad thing, allowing her to shine as her own hero despite a darker streak.  While Clea may hold his mantle she’s allowed to make it her own.

Strange has really been a celebration and study of the relationship between Clea and Stephen, their love, their similarities and their differences and no issue has shown that better than #10 as they’re finally fully reunited.  Despite debuting in 1964, Clea has never had a solo series before so this book has been a rare opportunity to explore their relationship through Cleas eyes instead of Stephen’s. The entire creative team demonstrates the bond between them beautifully, although Janna Tartaglia’s beautiful colouring deserves a special highlight.  Clea and Stephens contrasting colour palettes coming together as one brings that highly anticipated moment to life beautifully.

While briefly familiar with Marcelo Ferreira’s work on a few Amazing Spider-man issues, Strange feels like a real evolution to his talent.  His action scenes, especially in this final issue, are dynamic and exciting.  In a book full of heavy hitters, Ferreira’s work has a real weight behind every blow.  You can feel the power behind the spells and the threat of a reanimated Sentry feels real.  He shines in the emotional moments too, especially in the aforementioned reunion of Clea and Stephen.  And of course, in a Doctor Strange-related book you need to get a little weird with it, and if a four-armed Strange gestalt isn’t weird, what is?  Ferreira has nailed every new design in the series, and this final issue has his best one yet.

I can’t talk about this book without mentioning the fantastic cover work by Lee Garbett, who did covers for issues 4 to 10 and interiors on issue 6. Garbett is one of my favourite comics artists working today after his incredible work on Loki: Agent of Asgard and his work on Strange is some of his career best.  Every other cover has been my phone background at one point and when I think of Clea Strange, his work will always be what comes to mind, specifically the cover to issue #8.

Strange #10 brings a great conclusion to one of my favourite Marvel series of the past few years that I have no doubt will be fondly remembered as the definitive Clea Strange story, just in time for her to reach larger audiences as she makes her MCU debut.  Despite being part of MacKay’s trilogy of Doctor Strange works, Strange stands perfectly on its own, weaving through the Marvel universe in fun ways but never dependent on it.  It’s the perfect book for longtime or new fans of Clea or Stephen Strange.  As someone who tends to be drawn to legacy heroes, it’s easy to feel disappointed when their original counterpart returns to take back the mantle, but with Strange, it doesn’t feel like a sleight to Clea, but a victory as she finally saves her the man she loves and also a promise of more stories for the two of them to come.  This book never claimed to be a major disruption to the status quo, but it was a fun detour to allow Doctor Strange’s supporting cast to shine in his absence, and it achieved that perfectly.

Although issue 10 is Strange’s final issue, March’s upcoming Doctor Strange #1 from continuing writer Jed MacKay and Pascal Ferry promises plenty more adventure for Clea, Stephen and all the residents of 177a Bleeker Street that I cannot wait to read.

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