The tenth issue in Jason Aaron’s brilliant Doctor Strange run concludes “The Last Days Of Magic” story arc. This series has been one of the most underrated comic books hitting the shelves every month. Aaron has found a perfect voice for Stephen Strange as a lighthearted but constantly overwhelmed protector of Earth. Strange is forever in service as the world’s protector against the darkest horrors imaginable and does so with a smirk on his face.
The epic battle concludes here with the final remaining scraps of magic left in the world versus the science god set on wiping magic away forever. Strange’s loyal companion, Wong, has been filtering all of the unbearable pain that comes along with being Sorcerer Supreme into secret willing followers of Doctor Strange. This technique to keep Strange alive began with a being that, through a spell, absorbed an overwhelming amount of that pain. This is the monster that has been living in the cellar of Sanctum Sanctorum, and is the good doctor’s last chance of defeating the evil Imperator.
Doctor Strange is down to his final few tricks as his science wielding foe has him on the ropes. This is when the pain monster decides to combine forces against the Imperator with Strange, and the two merge in a final effort to preserve the little bit of magic left in the world. Around the world, true believers of magic band together as they bear witness and lend themselves to Strange for more power. Together, they overpower the magic-hating villain and his army, the Empirikul, loses power and fall at the feet of Strange’s allies outside. Following Doctor Strange’s triumph, the Imperator becomes the new monster in the cellar and the previous beast composed of pain flees, seeking eventual vengeance. As the dust settles and the book wraps up, Doctor Strange asks: “Why hasn’t the magic returned?”
Jason Aaron continues his home-run streak writing this series and this arc concludes in the best comic book fashion; closing one door while opening up all new ones. Ten issues into this series and the magic hasn’t worn off in the least. It would take my own death to keep me from reading the next issue. In a deep and dark world not meant for human eyes, Aaron continues painting Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme who isn’t exactly sure of himself at all times. There is self doubt in his version of the character which is something that only he has brought to the table in the character’s long history. There are so many more layers to Stephen Strange than there ever has been before.
The care taken in the supporting cast is another highlight of the series, although there isn’t much involvement by the rest of the remaining sorcerers in this issue. Without forcing readers through a retelling of Doctor Strange’s origin story, the direction of this book looks to be a smartly planned journey following Stephen Strange proving why he is THE Sorcerer Supreme; he has a lot of work to do and a lot to prove to himself.
The combination of fantasy and horror imagery by Chris Bachalo is another huge attribute to why this book continues to be an essential read for Doctor Strange fans. Brilliantly dark and emotionally charged, the artwork spills off the page and immerses readers into the world unseen by all except for one Stephen Strange. Creature design and action flow seem to be a strong focus for Bachalo’s story telling technique; which is perfect for the sometimes hard to digest subject material. Explaining Doctor Strange and what he does to someone who doesn’t know the character is almost impossible. However, if you were to take a book from this run and hand it to someone they would gain a total understanding of what makes the character who he is and why he’s so engrossing.
Doctor Strange #10 is a wonderful conclusion to the exciting “Last Days Of Magic” arc; twists and turns accompanied by breathtaking art make this a fun, easy read for both dedicated fans and new readers. At the ten issue mark, it’s safe to say this series is going in the right direction and forging all new territory for the characters. Now is the time to pick this series up and absorb it as the Marvel Studios movie is right around the corner.