REVIEW: Doctor Strange #17 – “State of Misery”

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Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Frazer Irving
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 2/15/17
Price: $3.99

Doctor Strange has finally defeated Dormammu. But that doesn’t mean things get easier.

Plot: In Doctor Strange #17, magic is returning to the world, and with it all the usual troubles. But the only thing on Doctor Strange’s mind is his friend Wong who has gone missing along with Mr. Misery. Wong must resist Mr. Misery’s torture or risk betraying his friend.

Story: Although there is less action from the get-go, Doctor Strange #17 draws readers in with a new mystery: Where is Wong? We last saw him with Mr. Misery, but we find him still missing even after a brief time jump in this issue. I like this angle a little better, as it brings Doctor Strange back into the fold of the Marvel universe as he and Zelma look for Wong. Of course, Aaron keeps the writing sharp and witty, not missing any opportunities to take a jab at the “seventeen” Avengers teams out there (Okay…he might be exaggerating a little).

REVIEW: Doctor Strange #17 – State of Misery

You would think with the return of magic, Doctor Strange would be feeling pretty good in this issue, but it’s just the opposite. He instead seems annoyed with the day-to-day trifles of magic and is focused only on his missing friend. Unlike the past few issues that have been mostly about him versus his enemies, Aaron starts looking more into Doctor Strange’s relationships with his allies.

This is a great thing, because it also lets us look more at how he fits into the Marvel universe. We see him hanging out with Scarlet Witch and others at a sorcerers’ bar as well as teaming up with Thor by the end of the issue.

While there are a few fight scenes in the issue, they’re mostly forgettable. Instead, it is the world-building and mystery of this issue that make it more enjoyable. By the end of the issue we’ve discovered how Mr. Misery plans on getting to Doctor Strange, but how he plans to defeat him remains to be seen and Wong is still missing, leaving just the right amount of suspense.

Art: The art is much different this issue with Frazer Irving taking over. Irving’s use of colors are much more vibrant, and unlike Doctor Strange #16 there is almost no gray scale used in this issue. The style is also much more consistent throughout, instead of switching between panels to denote flashbacks.

The way the colors bleed on the page bring a kind of aura that works really well with the narrative of magic returning to the world. Despite sticking to a similar color palette of browns and purples, contrast is employed much better in this issue to make the images pop. The shading is incredibly detailed, adding a texture that make the images seem almost 3D.

Irving also draws Mr. Misery in a much more creepy, understated way unlike the cartoon-ish version we’ve seen in previous issues. He is more like a parasite, infecting Wong, than an humanized villain.

Verdict: This issue started out much slower than issues from the previous arc, but also provided a more satisfactory narrative and build up. Instead of cycling through a rogues gallery, Aaron is taking the time to focus on one enemy. It was also fun to see cameos from characters like Scarlet Witch, connecting Doctor Strange back to the larger magical universe of Marvel. But while we saw how much Doctor Strange cares about Wong in this issue, his disappearance still felt like relatively low stakes compared to what is to come. I’m excited to see where this new arc goes.

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