Neilalien : A Doctor Strange Fansite : A Comic Book Weblog  

September 02016

Doctor Strange Annual #1 is out! Clea returns!

Stephen's former flame returns in this Dr. Strange Annual exclusive

Update: Review: Liked seeing Clea again. Liked the relationship being discussed. Liked the art. Liked the magical usage of the vacation bliss. Liked that Doc seemed to manipulate the situation. Doc must have felt, through his connection with Clea, that she had cast a powerful "contract-breaker" spell, and so "accidentally" contracted with the demon Xycorax for house repairs to have another contract that needed breaking more urgently. However, Doc's pissiness was so out of character as to distract and almost negate all of the above.

[29 September 02016]

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Marvel's December solicits include Doctor Strange #15, Sorcerers Supreme #3, Punisher team-up

Cover by Kevin Nowlan
ICX Variant Cover by TBA
"Blood in the Aether" continues as Doctor Strange's Rogues' Gallery all take their shot at a weakened Sorcerer Supreme!
Back during ORIGINAL SIN, the Watcher was killed and his eyes were removed. One eye fell into the hands of the Orb!
With that immense power, the Orb has set his sights on Doctor Strange!
32 PGS./Rated T+ $3.99

One of the Sorcerers Supreme dies at the hands of the Forgotten!
The biggest magical threat to the world is on the rise, and none of the Sorcerers have ever felt this weak before!
32 PGS./Rated T+ $3.99

Variant Cover by TBA
The team-up to end all team-ups is here, as two of the most different Marvel characters worlds' collide! What new mafia threat is so great that the Punisher needs Doctor Strange's help? Find out as the Sorcerer Supreme teams with the One Man War on Crime!
40 PGS./Rated T+ $4.99

Variant Cover by TBA
Deadpool and Howard the Duck investigate why their friends keep losing their heads.
Literally! Someone is chopping off their friends' heads!
Maybe Doctor Strange can sniff out the culprit with his magic?
32 PGS./Parental Advisory $3.99

[28 September 02016]

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Marvel's Civil War II Is Another Damn Mess

Is Marvel's Civil War II Failing?

In Civil War II #5, The Heroes Finally Fight (Review) ["It reads as if all of your Marvel superhero action figures had a war in your bedroom when you were a kid, and it doesn't rise above that level of storytelling. It makes very little sense for the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and other superheroes who sat out of the last Civil War to throw themselves into the newest conflict. Nor does Bendis go out of his way to justify those character turns."]

In Civil War II #5, Dr. Strange appears out of nowhere. At least he's on the right side with Iron Man. He casts the Crimson Bands on Storm, who escapes with lightning bolts- sigh. Then he gets pwned by Iceman. Yet another completely crappy Dr. Strange appearance by Bendis.

[27 September 02016]

- - is live! [where three of Dr. Strange's biggest fans now do podcasts!] [24 September 02016]

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The Beat with a new State Of The Industry roundup [defending far-from-perfect Diamond and the Direct Market; overall numbers in general uptrend and non-Marvel/DC succeeding; "I just don't believe the evidence suggests that we've developed a horrific system that is choking the life out of comics."]

Brian Hibbs Tilting At Windmills #254: Given current mass market challenges, values, and not really wanting comics, if we didn't have the direct market we'd be wishing we did; cancellations of crappy D-list rip-offs like Nighthawk do not particularly reveal DM flaws

Diamond just shipped over 10 million non-promotional comics during an August for the first time in nearly 20 years

Die, Industry, Die! (Or Why Letting Comics Fail is the "Real" Only Way to Save the Industry) [Bendis tweeting the non-starter shibboleth that we need to pre-order comics sight-unseen months in advance inspires new wave of ranting against the broken direct market system] ["The belief that fans need to support books by consuming them in the way most convenient for the publisher has been around for decades, but it is now, and always has been, complete bullshit."]

Does Trade-Waiting "Hurt" a Comic? ["But don't let anyone shame you for how you buy comics... You've just dipped a toe into an industry with an archaic and broken distribution model."]

Who's To Blame When a Good Comic Gets Cancelled? [good read] [item: expanding returnability on new titles so publisher and retailer share the risk]

Kickstarter and crowdfunding are subversively booming re: book publishing, and big with comics too

[18 September 02016]

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Doctor Strange #11 is out!

Aaron Helps Doctor Strange's Rogues Cast Blood In The Aether

Doctor Strange #12 preview

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It's The Old Testament Again

Alas, Neilalien has turned against this new Doctor Strange monthly series.

Issue #1 held so much promise, but now at eleven issues printed and published, and this major "Last Days of Magic" storyline finished, we can speak from real data and not hopes and prejudgments.

This series has been just another depowering. Just another teardown.

Asking for the hundredth time: Why can't we just get straightforward Dr. Strange stories like Roger Stern's run anymore?

What is Marvel's obsession the past 25 years with constantly depowering, disassembling, deconstructing, rebooting, reducing, and redefining Dr. Strange? Trying to fix, or "break down", what isn't broken, if they'd just tell good stories with Doc using interesting magic at a reasonable power level. It's as if Marvel has decided the only stories they can tell or are interesting to tell about Doctor Strange is to take away the magic and give him existential crises about what fundamentally makes him Doctor Strange. It feels like a long tiresome time of depowerings and loss of ability, needing to do something about magic on a meta level like reduce or deplete or redefine it or give it rules and structure and consequences to pay, loss of Sorcerer Supreme status over and over, loss of his items and talismans, Pyrrhic victories, sad-sack-ification, etc.

What if all the Green Lantern stories we ever got were to take his ring away, kick him out of the Corps, make his ring weaker and weaker, disruptions and depletions in the green lantern energy of the universe and having to search for a new power source for his ring, needing to constantly relearn how to make his ring work, he's unable to use his ring so he must use a baseball bat instead, put him sitting in a bar depressed and talking about what he can't do and his failures all the time, etc.- and the rare times his ring is working normally, unlimited by imagination and willpower, all he does is energy blasts.

And it wouldn't even be so bad but they don't even bother to ever give us the satisfying victory or the redemption or the rebuilding on the other side after tearing him down. If we get anything, it's a quick reset for the next depowering-metaphor story.

This isn't a dumb rant against Storytelling 101. Give the hero a challenge, a tough time, a setback. But what is the nature of the challenge? Is it a difficult villain with a great plan, or is it that the hero can't do anything because of some fundamental weakness all the time? Is it the same challenge all the time? How does the hero respond to the challenge? Change the status quo- we don't need a full-circle reset or rainbow happy endings- but there has to be some kind of competent character action and power use propelling the plot.

We've re-reached Bendisian proportions of "breaking (down) the character"- Doc moping in his mai tai, back in his boring Constantine anti-uniform tan trenchcoat, with no heroic competence, confidence, or redemption in sight. This 'death of all the magic in the multiverse' storyline is long in the tooth already, and it looks to be the theme for much longer. Sad sack Doc is back: it's "a lot harder than it used to be", "there was a time a thing like this would've been afraid of me", "I'm starting over from scratch", etc. Oh blecch!

Although the magic 'garden' that was 'mowed over' is 'starting to flower again'. We supposedly have a small binder of some new spells that work now. We say 'supposedly', since we haven't seen one sparkle of said spells.

When was the last time Doc fricking cast a spell anyway? We read Dr. Strange for the usage of magic. It was expected the axes and arrows would add some kind of steampunk-adventurer flavor, not replace. We're supposed to enjoy a year of Tony Stark techless after an electromagnetic pulse? If Neilalien wants to read about a magic-user who uses a bat as Doc does in #11, he'll read Matt Wagner's Mage. It's like it's not even Doctor Strange. Might as well read Deadpool or Punisher now that the power-set is the same. (Or perhaps read Doc teaming up with Punisher, shooting a sawed-off shotgun? But it's a magic shotgun...)

Depower the character and give him an axe. Is this Jason Aaron's favorite story pitch? Did it with Thor, and now Dr. Strange.

And the salt in the suture: In #11, we have the Ancient One saving Strange's life pre-Tibet. More "chosen one special snowflake destiny" stuff that subtracts so much more from his great "asshole works hard" origin than it adds. (The Mordo flashback was better.)

This reminds of Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #80- we'll need that kind of reset all over again. Back then, we also had a storyline that overstayed its welcome (Siege of Darkness/Strangers Among Us/Last Rites). Magic had also gone done died: the magical power source Doc had been using, the Gaian Aura, had been depleted. (This was his power source after the previous depowering, when he renounced the Vishanti and the Powers and Principalities, his power source before that.) Poorly-executed new interpretations of the character which rendered him unrecognizable like "young again" (or using an axe) had to be undone; plots that messed the entire magical world like The Seven Spheres War (or the Empirikul) had to be resolved. So Warren Ellis comes in for an issue and recharges Earth or Doc taps into a new source of ("catastrophe") magic with a ritual at the planetary syzygy- but the blurb at the end of #80 warns us shrillily: Is Doc's new magic strong enough?

Remember another time when Doc was depowered, another Pyrrhic victory, he lost all his books and goodies in Doctor Strange #81 when he had to destroy them so Urthona couldn't use them for evil? And then we find out in Sorcerer Supreme #7 that they weren't all destroyed, but Agamotto had spirited them away? Dare we hope the Empirikul didn't actually destroy everything too and leave Doc with only a boring nonsensical weapons rack of swords and halberds?

Perhaps it is darkest before the light. We shall see. We have Mordo soon, Clea soon (are you expecting to see any of the "stud Doc" with Clea that we saw in #1 with the Free Rovers lady? Neilalien neither), the new Sorcerers Supreme title soon. Supposedly in the next storyline, "Blood In The Aether", Doc's rogues gallery comes out one by one, "gunning for him in his weakened state" (quote from the interview above) (you know, like in Sorcerer Supreme #49, when Dormammu shows up right after a Doc depowering) (hey shouldn't his magical rogues gallery be depowered too?).

Some competent victories using actual magic, the moping ends, an upward climb begins, the mowed-over garden continues to flower, interesting new magic and ideas, and what we've gotten so far in this series can be squinted into table-setting, as simply the Storytelling 101 of putting the hero through the grinder. The question isn't Is Doc's new magic strong enough? It's which of Kurt Vonnegut's Story Shapes are we going to get? Man In Hole, time to start the upward climb, or did we just get Old Testament fall-from-grace yet again?

[14 September 02016]

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