Marvel’s Doctor Strange is a hit at the box office and already Marvel Studios’ highest-grossing solo character debut film ever. While many of those going to see the film are likely to be faithful Marvel Comics readers, the film is also bound to be reaching a brand new audience, including many who have never read a Doctor Strange comic book in their life.
For those who first experience the mystical side of the Marvel Universe in the Doctor Strange movie and who want to learn more about the Sorcerer Supreme and his foes and allies, Doris Kindersley (DK) has the perfect entry point.
The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange, written by Billy Wrecks, Nick Jones, and Danny Graydon, is a coffee table style reference book featuring information on characters, artifacts, and locations from 50 years of Doctor Strange’s history, and serves as a great primer for new fans.
The 175-page volume begins with a foreword by classic Doctor Strange comic book writer Roger Stern. The information that follows is broken up into seven chapters. The first, “Strange Magic,” gives a brief recount of Stephen Strange’s life in the Marvel Comics universe, up-to-do as o the launch of the post-Secret Wars Doctor Strange series by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo.
“Side by Side” and “Enemy Mine” provided entries for Doctor Strange’s greatest allies and enemies, respectively, including The Ancient One, Clea, Wong, Spider-Man, Brother Voodoo, Daimon Hellstrom, the Defenders, the Illuminati and the New Avengers for allies, and Dormammu, Baron Mordo, Nightmare, Mephisto, Morgan Le Fey, and the Empirikul for enemies.
“The All Powerful” follows and details the otherworldly entities of the Marvel Universe. Represented are the Vishanti, the mystical beings from which Doctor Strange and other Marvel Universe mystics derive much of their power, and cosmic entities like Eternity, the Living Tribunal, the In-Betweener, and the Beyonder.
The remaining three chapters focus on magic itself. “Mystic Realms” details Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, Dorammmu’s Dark Dimension, Nightmare’s Dimension of Dreams, and other unearthly planes. “Spellbound” explores the mystic arts, such as the use of telepathy and the summoning of the crimson bands of Cyttorak. “Objects of Enchantment” lists power mystical artifacts from the Marvel Universe, including Strange’s Eye of Agamotto, the Book of the Vishanti, and the fabled Infinity Gems.
It is clear that DK put a lot of effort into the book’s designs and layout. The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange features several pages with large images of beautiful Marvel Comics artwork. It is easy to browse the book and simply enjoy its visual splendor.
There is some tradeoff when it comes to actual content, though. In order to fit all of those gorgeous images, the actual text of each entry is kept short, usually amounting to just a blurb giving the quick and dirty facts about the subject. As information on these characters can easily be found on Marvel wiki pages, it's an understandable tradeoff to make. If a reader wants more information on a character or object, they can simply search the internet for more details. However, it would have at least been nice to see some source referencing on the part of DK.
For example, one entry in The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange includes one entry detailing a story in which Doctor Strange was forced to battle 14 possessed Avengers by himself. That’s an exciting story hook, and a new reader may want to follow up on it, but the book doesn’t offer any information on what comics the story appeared in, or even a story title to enter into a search bar.
It is a deliberate decision made by DK to stay entirely “in-character” and focus only on the actual character of Doctor Strange rather than the comics he appears in. That’s a decision they’ve made in the past, but when combined with such brief bits of information it can prove frustrating for those who would use the book as a jumping-off point rather than the end-all, be-all of their Doctor Strange experience.
That said, there’s no argue that the book makes a handsome addition to any fan’s coffee table or bookshelf. As a conversation starter or as a surface level introduction to the mystical Marvel Universe, The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange does the job right, just be ready to supplement it with some internet deep dive as well.
The Mysterious World of Doctor Strange is on sale now.
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