Doctor Strange/The Punisher: Magic Bullets #4
Writer: John Barber
Penciller: Andrea Broccardo
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 3/22/17
There are a number of characters in the Marvel continuity that make fabulous partners. Just a couple that come to mind are Heroes for Hire, Captain America and Bucky Barnes, Captain America and Falcon, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, and now you can add Doctor Strange and the Punisher: Magic Bullets to that list. These two have paired up before, but nothing along these lines. What makes the story work so well is that neither one of them make sense as a partner. It’s almost a buddy cop/road trip movie at the tips of your fingers.
Doctor Strange hasn’t quite been the same since magic died. He’s been collecting as many magical artifacts as he can, but his enemies and fellow practitioners of the mystical arts are aware that he’s weakened and unable to stop their plans. Or at least that’s what the good Doctor wants them to believe. As for Frank Castle, magic or not, he still continues to wage war against the criminal underground of New York City. It’s a twist of fate that brings these two together and the results are as enjoyable as they are important to the new continuity.
Plot: The plot for Magic Bullets is rather straight forward and simplistic. While going through one of his usual murderous rampages on the criminal underworld, Frank Castle stumbles across a pair of mobsters who have been transformed into beings of great power by the Mangrove. Realizing that he is out of his depth, The Punisher heads straight for the Sanctum Sanctorum and sets about enlisting Strange’s help banishing these creatures back from whence they came.
Story: As previously stated, Doctor Strange is currently operating at about 10% when Frank Castle tracks him down to help him deal with a pair of mobster twins who have been imbued with magic from another dimension; evil magic, of course. With the aid of Mangrove, the Fusilli siblings have transformed into beings looking similar to a cross of Nosferatu and an uglier version of Sauron. Of course, Mangrove didn’t tell the brother-sister pairing that they would be at his beck and call when they were given their powers, but the devil is always in the details. For Strange and Castle, the fate of New York City rests in the hands of a man who isn’t even half of what he used to be and a mere mortal with no functioning knowledge of magic other than the knowledge that he doesn’t know anything about magic.
John Barber has done a great job of creating a likable tale featuring two characters that just don’t pair up often enough. What usually makes stories like this work are the moments where both individuals realize they need the other one to get the job done. In this way, Barber has a created a believable template for bringing Strange and Castle together on a critical assignment. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like series because I am such a fan of both characters, but Barber deftly crafted a narrative that made sense, was fun, and allowed the reader to the best sides of their favorite characters. .
Art: Andrea Broccardo and Andres Mossa did an outstanding job with this series. Not only did they have to get it set up for a print publication, but they also did an outstanding job of bringing the art to life through the Infinite comic, which continues to be a underutilized tool at Marvel’s disposal. The art style probably favors a Strange comic more than a Punisher comic, but both guys look outstanding and the environments are rich and detailed. As with the story, the artists did a great job of bringing both characters to life in a way that would please readers of each.
Verdict: Doctor Strange/The Punisher: Magic Bullets is an extremely fun ride. It works even when it feels like it shouldn’t, and that’s a testament to the individuals involved with this project. The most intriguing thing about this story remains the plight facing Doctor Strange and his magical duties. It’s hard to defend the world from magic when you’re walking the earth collecting sticks with even just the slightest hint of magic in them, eh?
I can’t recommend this series enough. I am always going to be biased when it comes to The Punisher but I don’t have it in me to recommend a book that simply isn’t any good. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that today. This is an outstanding series and I would love to see more zany adventures with these two down the line. They may live in different worlds, but there is no denying impact Strange and Castle have when they choose to occupy the same territory. — JW
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars