It’s been quite awhile since there was a solid Doctor Strange solo story in the Marvel Universe, and in recent months many readers have been vocal online in their desire for some new Stephen Strange material. The wait is over as Frank Barbiere and Marco Rudy deliver one of the most inventive and visually stunning Doctor Strange stories ever.
Frank Barbiere dives head first into everything that makes Strange who he is, and what he has been driven to in recent months. Barbiere deftly showcases how Strange has been driven to the extreme measures he has taken, and how his hubris since he was a young surgeon still exists even now that he is the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel U. Barbiere paints Strange as a driven man who will not accept failing, keeping the tone of the character consistent with the Doctor we are seeing in Hickman’s New Avengers very well. It isn’t exactly clear when the story is taking place relative to the current New Avengers storyline, but this book does compliment the events of issue #20 (also released June 25) very well. Doctor Strange has been making deals with some pretty terrifying forces, and Barbiere shows the gravity of the situation well in this issue.
Barbiere gives readers a very dark look at the Doctor, as he is in an extremely dark place at the moment. His power is immense, potentially greater than ever before, but the battle raging inside him to determine what remains of his soul is an extremely story to investigate. Barbiere’s dialogue is absolutely perfect in this issue, showcasing the arrogance of the Sorcerer Supreme and foreshadowing how it will be his eventual downfall. In a single issue Barbiere shows a fantastic command of this character and it will be a travesty if we do not get more Strange written by him.
Marco Rudy handles the artwork in this issue, and I cannot think of a better pairing or artist and subject matter in comics. Marco Rudy delivers a stunning issue from end to end, providing absolutely jaw dropping layouts and artwork that fits the tone of the script brilliantly. Barbiere and Rudy work together very well, with Rudy telling an immense amount of story with his skilled work. Rudy takes a strong script and lights it up, going wild with the magical realms the good Sorcerer tends to spend time in. Doctor Strange is by no means a typical hero, Rudy is not a what you would consider a mainstream superhero artist and the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. His colour work is exceptional, setting a fantastic tone for the flashback scenes and making the action sequences pop. This is just phenomenal work from a truly talented and unique artist.
Barbiere and Rudy knock one out of the park with New Avengers Annual #1. This comic is a brilliant compliment to the events of New Avengers and the creative team delivers one of the best Doctor Strange stories I have ever read. The artwork is mind bogglingly good and I demand an SDCC announcement for an ongoing Doctor Strange series from these two creators. The world of comics needs more stories like this, and I cannot recommend this comic more highly.
The Verdict: 10/10