Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Doctor Strange : Sorcerer Substandard
Disaster of the Mystic Arts
Master of the Spastic Arts
Master of the Mystic Oops

Fantastic Four # 600, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Steve Epting, shipped a week or so ago and in the issue was a scene that I wanted to discuss... or... at least show my disgust.

With a surprise invasion of Kree forces, the Fantastic Four attempts to defend Earth and repel the invaders while aided by multitudes of other Earth heroes (99% of them from various "Avengers" teams - especially since nearly all Marvel characters are on at least one Avengers roster).

Among them: Doctor Strange.

Given a suggestion on what to do by Ms. Marvel (since Doctor Strange, while a veteran of superhuman events, and a sorcerer for at least 40 Marvel-time years, hasn't had much experience with interstellar invaders), Dr. Strange affects the vessels ability to defy gravity via a spell cast with his mystic mastery...

... to a less-than masterful execution. And Disastrous results!

Seriously, Marvel. WTF!?

Did Doctor Strange just cause the deaths of untold numbers (both; the HUMANS living in the building and area around the crash as well as the KREE on board) because he screwed up a "basic" gravity spell (casually cast with a snappy quip)?
The only real example of a hero taking down one of the invaders in the issue and it is an epic fail.

So, my question is:
How long are we going to have suffer this screw-up version of Doctor Strange?

Before the modern-era of Joe Quesada / Brian Bendis with the recent additions of Matt Fraction and now Jonathan Hickman, Doctor Strange hasn't ever been this inept. At least not as blatantly.

Certainly, there have been classic adventures, written by the likes of Stan Lee/ Steve Ditko, Steve Englehart, Roger Stern and Peter Gillis (among others) where Doctor Strange has made grievous errors - resulting in terrible consequences. However, in each of those previous tenures, his chroniclers allowed him the ability to rectify those errors, and in doing so, rise and advance his spirit and ability to the next level.
This current crop of "realistic" write-it-to-sell-to-the-Hollywood-grist-mill hacks have neglected to truly connect with the characters; by-passed their history, ignored the true essence of these characters - or even worse, lost all sense of heroism for their characters.

In eras past, if a Marvel hero screwed up this badly, they felt remorse - the plight of the everyman was shown on the page and the grief of the hero was played out for all it was worth (melodrama, yes, but at least the emotion was there). Nowadays, the world seems populated by super-humans only and the cityscapes where they wreak their havoc are as soulless as the so-called "heroes".
Regular people are rarely shown and if they are, they are backdrops against which the "real" characters get to run rampant.

Nowhere in the issue is a reaction shot of Stephen Strange, possibly showing his grief at being a cause of such devastation. Not one. This may be more the blame of the artist than writer, but I am willing to bet good money that such a follow-up was not in the script.

I just want to apologize to Steve Ditko for this.
I am complicit in my continued assent, by spending money on this assassination of the heroic ideal.
But, it is only due to my love for the character that HE created, and my eternal hope that once more, a sense of greatness and grandeur can be returned to Stephen Strange.

Sorry Mr. Ditko.
Marvel owes you more apologies than can be counted.


Howard Hallis said...

Stuff like this make me wish Marvel would retcon it all away by revealing in Secret Invasion 2 that Strange was a Skrull all along. it would make sense for a Skrull to kill as many Kree as they could, despite the results.

Mario Di Giacomo said...

Have you read THE DEFENDERS #1 yet? I fear you won't care for it much... Stephen barely casts a spell, and not only needs to use mundane transports to get around (teleport spell? What's that?) but seems unable to actually sit in his seat on the train.

Oh, and Namor accuses him of trying to pick up Red She-Hulk.

~P~ said...

Yes, I read it.
As I tweeted yesterday:

SanctumBlog Just read DEFENDERS v4 issue 1. It didn't suck... but neither was it good. Full review to come.

I'll be working on review at lunch break today and tomorrow.

Hope to post by weekend.


Richard Guion said...

I read Defenders #1, definitely thought it sucked worse than a donkey. Terrible what they did to Doc. I thought the writing totally lacked any kind of tension.

Tony said...

Much as I hate to say it, THERE IS NO MORE CONTINUITY. Continuity is a dead issue. The Quesadaverse exists entirely on its own terms. These characters have no history, at least not beyond any flashbacks shown in Quesadaverse issues. Guys like Hickman and Fraction are creating the only continuity Marvel cares about anymore, and they don't even care about that all that much. The past is a bucket of ashes.

H said...

Defenders 1 wasn't terrible. No one's liking the bit of character assassination at the beginning (even reviewers who don't know the characters say all the sex references seem shoehorned in). It goes a little too quickly, but then this is Fraction dealing out the cards. We haven't had time to pick them up and look at our hand yet.

The only magic/powers thing that seemed to fall flat was Strange apparently needing Namor to carry him out of the plane. I know he's used to using his Cloak of Levitation, but can't he fly unaided?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the issue, but Strange has been shown in the past to Levitate, but he can't fly at speed without the cloak.

~P~ said...

It took a little while longer than I had wanted, but I DO have a REVIEW of DEFENDERS # 1 up now:

Check it out.


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