Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1 Review: Channeling the Cosmic Comics Power Discovered by Ditko

A tragically common element in Marvel Comics for the past ten years has been the publishing side falling to the mercy of what gets translated onto the big screen. The pop culture stranglehold the MCU maintains has, for better or for worse, granted its depictions of these famous characters as being the distillation of their entire histories and as a result what fans read in new comics feels like a copy of these amalgamations. Obviously, not everything that Marvel publishes possesses this quality, but it is notably common, which is why Tradd Moore and Heather Moore's Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise is such a breath of fresh air.

This version of Doctor Strange isn't Benedict Cumberbatch on paper doing magic stylized by visual effects houses. No, this is pure, uncut comic book goodness, an exploration and examination of the form and function of comic book storytelling through the lens of what the medium is capable of doing with its own unique mechanics. Moore writes and draws the series with Heather Moore elevating the already stylish and trippy visuals with an added layer of psychedelic colors. 

Of note is that Fall Sunrise has a tinge of recognizability for readers coming to the title because of seeing Doctor Strange in movies – hints of his heroism and origin are peppered in. These are not bugs of the narrative, they're a feature, as the titular sorcerer finds himself in a unique plane of existence requiring him to ponder his own existence. Is the Stephen Strange we're following awake? Alive? Even real? Is he a man bound to panels in a comic book? The story doesn't exactly lean into Morrison-esque meta-theatrics, but the vagueries of the plot play into the mysticism, giving this a deepness at times that may not have even been intended. 

From a pure plot perspective, it's hard to really say what Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise is really "about" as the piece carries more weight as a mood painting than a narrative to break down. In large part this series already feels like Moore is channeling Mike Mignola's Hellboy in Hell – singular stories that dig into a character in a specific place that fit together to form a grander portrait. The comparison to that series is accurate not only in narrative structure but in the glee one can attain in simply taking in its visuals. The Moore team have taken the vibe that Steve Ditko routinely explored with the Sorcerer Supreme and given it a modern polish, pushing unique terrains and villains onto a character that has a malleable form (sometimes literally) regarding whatever kind of pastiche you want to include him in.

To bad mouth any recent work with Doctor Strange would be doing a disservice to the writers making recent attempts under the banner, but Tradd Moore's work in Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise already feels like the pinnacle of what an artist can do with a character that hasn't felt fresh in years. Rather than chase the facsimiles of the MCU and the version of Doctor Strange that, arguably, most of the world is familiar with, Tradd Moore and Heather Moore have gone back to the basics. They give readers a Strange that feels like he's commanding the panels around him and beckoning you to turn the page. Fall Sunrise is a late but auspicious arrival to the conversation of 2022's best comics. 

Published by Marvel Comics

On November 23, 2022

Written by Tradd Moore

Art by Tradd Moore

Colors by Heather Moore

Letters by Clayton Cowles with Tradd Moore

Cover by Tradd Moore