'Doctor Strange' #10 Review: A Legacy Milestone and a Thoughtfully Crafted Character Study

doctor strange 10
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Milestone issues can be a tricky thing for comic creators. There's an expectation from fans to really nail the themes and attributes of a comic's past, bringing back old characters, resurrecting popular storylines, and so on. Then again, since these issues are part of a continuity and not just a standalone annual, there is also a responsibility to the current story being told. More often than not, a creative team sacrifices one of these aspects for the other, but such is not the case for Doctor Strange. Mark Waid and a talented horde of artists (led by Jesus Saiz) have created a wonderful issue that encapsulates everything Stephen Strange should be, while also setting up for what could be a fantastic arc in the coming months.

Doctor Strange #10 hits shelves this week and, while it is only the tenth issue in Waid's current run, it marks issue #400 in legacy numbering, which is a pretty big deal. Like an annual book, Doctor Strange #10 consists of multiple short stories featuring different illustrators, highlighting a different part of who the character is at his core. Surprisingly, each of these stories is thoroughly enjoyable, and they're all worth your time to read. But for the purpose of this review, we're just going to focus on the first, and largest story of the group, which is the one that actually takes place in the current series.

The issue begins with Strange reuniting with the Ancient One, picking up from last month's cliffhanger. Like Stephen at the beginning of this series, the Ancient One has lost his abilities thanks to some sort of magic accountant whose identity is part of a much greater reveal later in the issue. Strange helps his former mentor learn the knowledge that was lost, and goes on a mission to discover why this accountant is suddenly making good on that series-old promise "all magic has a price."

Throughout the entire story, in the midst of multiple twists and turns, the focus remains squarely on who Strange is at his heart. The character has always been portrayed as the cocky surgeon who lost his way, discovered magic when all was lost, and rose to the top of another sort of practice. Even after turning to magic, he still often remained arrogant, too smart of his own good. That's a defining quality of Stephen Strange, but this issue peels back the curtain and reminds us that he's so much more than that. Beneath every joke and snide remark is a man who cares deeply about those around him.

Strange is a showman through and through, so it's no surprise when he makes a grand sacrificial gesture to save the world. This is something he does time and again. But here we see that his love goes deeper than that. He takes in the dying Ancient One, teaching him everything the wise old man once taught him, no matter how much pain seeing his mentor in a fragile state may bring. This causes a stir in Stephen like we haven't seen in quite some time, reminding of us how truly human he can be.

The rest of the issue continues that trend. While he leaves the side of the Ancient One to get to the bottom of their current problem, both the art and Stephen's inner dialogue continue to focus on his battered humanity. In terms of a character study for Doctor Strange, it doesn't get much better than this.

Published by Marvel Comics

On January 30, 2019

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