Doctor Strange (2023) #3 Review

Dormmamu and Doctor Strange have a chat.

Doctor Strange by Jed Mackay and Pasqual Ferry continues to be a delight. Joined by Heather Moore on colours for this issue and series regular Cory Petit on lettering, this issue follows Stephen Strange and Dormammu on a day of peace that they call “Parley Day”, during which neither are allowed to fight each other.

In fashion with the two issues before this, it is yet another story that mostly works standalone– independent of the past two issues- while also building towards the bigger narrative by the end of it all. It’s a refreshing change of pace to have a comic book that really works within the monthly structure, rather than having everything be a part of a longer narrative that works best when read in trade form.

As soon as we start reading the issue, that glorious Alex Ross cover makes sense. Once a year, Dormammu occupies the body of one of his followers in order to mock Stephen and show him that he cannot save everyone. In many ways, this issue is a look back through Stephen and Dormammu’s history while telling the story in the present day, but never in a way that makes a newer reader feel lost, nor in a way that reads like exposition dumps throughout instead of anything substantial. 

The story reads naturally, like two old acquaintances who are forced to bare with one another reminiscing on their past. Whenever something in the past is referenced, there is always a note specifically mentioning which book and issue it occurred in, allowing a reader to go back and read those stories if they’re interested. It happened to me, and I’m excited to go back and read more Doctor Strange eventually. 

The issue is paced well, with none of it going by too fast or too slow.It ends in a way that’s also a good change of pace. Not every superhero story has to end in a big fight: sometimes it’s about wits and smarts, about appealing to the characters’ inner humanity, and I’m glad this issue does that.

The art is mostly really good. Pasqual Ferry has been popping off on this book, and Heather Moore’s colours are gorgeous. The only bad panels that jumped out to me were two that used stock images of real world photography rather than drawn in panels. I understand time constraints, but when the rest of the issue doesn’t do the same, it just looks out of place and can take you out of the experience.

In terms of the lettering, I love that Cory Petit gives Dormammu a different looking speech bubble as well as dialogue in a different font. Considering the issue is mostly just him and Strange having a conversation, it’s really striking, and allows the reader to tell them apart at a glance, even aside from how well they’re placed panel-to-panel. 

The Sister Grimm backup by Amy Chu, Tokitokoro, and Per Sifuentes-Suto is a fun team-up between her and Doctor Strange against Dormammu. Off the bat, I’m into the backup being a complementary tale to the main story, rather than something completely unrelated. It’s a format that for one, makes the reader feel it’s worth the additional dollar, and for two, allows for consistency.

It’s a fun team-up, with some really cool angular panelling, and I’m really into the very kinetic art style. I just wish some of the expressions were better. The writing is top notch too, especially considering that this is early into Nico’s career, and the lettering is consistent with the one from the main story in this issue. It’s worth a read.  

Once again, another brilliant issue by this team. Mackay has yet to disappoint on his stories with Strange so far, and I can’t wait to see how the developments of this issue will play out next month. 

By Zero

Big fan of storytelling through the B-Theory of time.

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