DOCTOR STRANGE #1/ Script by MARK WAID/ Art by KEV WALKER/ Colors by JAVA TARTAGLIA/ Letters by VC’S CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Once Dr. Stephen Strange was the world’s greatest neurosurgeon and an arrogant ass. A car accident robbed him of his manual dexterity and sent him down a path which taught him humility and the mystic arts, eventually transforming him into the Sorcerer Supreme and guardian of this dimension. Yet a recent bargain with a demon has restored his hands, allowing him to once again take up a scalpel. Now Dr. Strange is a medical doctor once more, tackling those cases other doctors declare hopeless while still defending the universe from magical threats. But how long can Stephen maintain the balance between his two jobs and prevent the one from affecting the other?
Similar in tone to Waid’s earlier Indestructible Hulk series (where Dr. Bruce Banner agreed to turn Hulk into a SHIELD asset in exchange for a lab and funding so he could redeem his name as a scientist), the new Doctor Strange sees Stephen trying to recapture something of his former life while maintaining his heroic lifestyle. Naturally, this proves easier said than done, as Stephen is now fully aware of things like the demons that feed on the suffering of his patients yet powerless to do anything because it’s easier to leave them be than risk the demons actively going off to cause trouble. Waid’s story is well-matched by the art of Kev Walker and Java Tartaglia, which proves equally adept at depicting Greenwich Village and the weird threats Stephen must deal with in his night job. This issue may not win the good doctor more regular patients, but this is the Doctor Strange series fans have been waiting for!
INCOMING! #1/ Script by VARIOUS/ Art by VARIOUS/ Colors by VARIOUS/ Letters by VC’s TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
A dead body. An indecipherable code. A mystery that will pass among the heroes of the Marvel Universe, as they deal with their own impending crises. What new horrors will this mystery hold for them in the year to come and is there anything they can do to save themselves?
There seems little point in an in-depth review of Invasion!, given that it is the comic book equivalent of a Russell Stover sampler box. Many of Marvel’s creative teams are here to set up what they will be doing in the coming year, while trying to hook new readers. Crassly commercial, yes, but still a well-told story with solid artwork in spite of that fact.
The story weaving the various chapters together is well told, with only a few sections that seem like total non-sequiturs. (Looking at you X-Men chapter focused on Sinister!) While none of the artwork is spectacular, it is all competently executed and there’s nothing that stands out as particularly awful. I realize that is damning with faint praise, but it’s quite impressive considering the sheer number of artists at work on this issue.
The only unfortunate thing is that the story doesn’t make much effort to introduce some characters while going out of its way to introduce the decidedly more obscure ones. While one can safely assume new readers attracted by the films are familiar with Captain Marvel and Iron Man, for instance, it could have done more to introduce characters like Silk or the various Avengers who aren’t Captain America, Thor and Black Panther. Still, for what it is, Incoming! is an enjoyable book that offers newcomers a taste of everything Marvel Comics will have to offer in the coming year.
SPIDER-HAM #1/ Script by ZEB WELLS/ Art by WILL ROBSON/ Colors by ERICK ARCINIEGA/ Letters by VC’S JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham saved the multiverse… and now he won’t shut up about it. The other heroes of New Yolk City barely tolerated Spider-Ham when all he did was tell lame jokes. Now they’re actively avoiding him since he started bragging about being a cosmic savior. Unfortunately, there’s a new problem involving other-dimension weirdness and Spider-Ham is going to be the one to save the day… whether they want him to or not!
I’m amazed it took Marvel this long to green-light a Spider-Ham mini-series aimed at kids, given the popularity of Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse last winter. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be, given how quickly everyone seemed to forget Into The Spiderverse after Spider-Man: Far From Home came out. Regardless, it is here now and it’s the kind of kid-centered comic we need more of from the big comics publishers these days.
I never read any of the original Spider-Ham comics, but Will Robson seems to do a good job copying their style and presenting the various Marvel heroes as funny animal versions of themselves. Zeb Wells’ script is full of all the eye-rolling dad-jokes and slapstick one would expect. In in all, there’s a lot of fun to be had and a solid story with good art holding it all together. Definitely worth picking up if you have a kid who is into superheroes or loved Spider-Ham in Into The Spiderverse yourself.