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Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, Sorceror Supreme of our Cosmos Finaly has a Monthly Home in The New Avengers
Doctor Strange is Finaly Back in a Monthly Alongside the New Avengers
My favorite comic book these days is The New Avengers, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mike Deodato. I have always liked team comics slightly better than solo comics and I tend to say that my favorite has always been The Avengers but, the fact is, there have been times when they have been superseded, for me, by The Defenders. Part of the attraction to me of The Defenders was the presence of Dr. Stephan Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts and Sorcerer Supreme of our Cosmos. I've always liked the wizards in fantasy tales better than the knights. I've just thought that they were more interesting. Dr. Strange is my favorite superhero wizard.
The Defenders was cool because it was a group of heroes called together by a wizard to meet the threats that only he can perceive. They weren't a family like the Fantastic Four, or a school Like the X-Men. They weren't a permanent team set up as Earth's first line of defense like the Avengers or the Justice League. They weren't a group of friends like The Teen Titans. They just came together when Dr. Strange needed some superheroes to do a specific job, and while the most well known Defenders were Strange himself, The Hulk, The Submariner, The Silver Surfer, the Valkyrie and Nighthawk, the fact was that anyone could be Defender if Dr. Strange needed them. Much to Nighthawk's chagrin there was never anything like a formal membership. I dig that. I'm an informal guy.
Doctor Strange has hit hard times. In 1987 his series was canceled. There have been attempts at revivals over the years, miniseries, graphic novels and an established place in the pecking order of the Marvel Universe that has meant that he isn't likely to fade away, but, none of these have been particularly satisfying. One of the great things about The New Avengers is the fact that "Doc" has recently been made a fully fledged member of the team. It's good to see him again on a monthly basis and I like the way Bendis writes him. Doc has hit hard times in his publication schedule and Bendis is writing him as a guy who's hit hard times in his life and career. I like the symmetry.
This is still somewhat unsatisfying. While I'm glad to see him every month and it's nice to see him as an Avenger, the problem with team books, especially teams with lots of members, is that very few members of the team get the full comic book/soap opera treatment. We don't get to see their personal lives or learn how they are working through their problems. A formula that re-occurs from time to time is that about half the characters in The Avengers have their own books and the other half do not. The writer of the team book doesn't have to focus much on the lives of the heroes who have their own books because the reader can just buy their books. That leaves the team writer the chance to focus on the members whose only exposure is in the team book. The problem is The New Avengers have eleven members and only two (Wolverine and Spider-Man) have their own book (or should I say books, it's not possible to walk into a comic book store without being overwhelmed by the huge amount of Spider-man and Wolverine product). Ben Grimm, the Thing, is also featured in FF so that leaves us eight characters in need of a life (nine if you include Squirrel Girl, which I don't, though, I probably should.)
I have liked what Bendis has done as far as giving us the personal lives of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones but I'm ready for more Doctor Strange. Ideally though, I'd like to see him in his own book again.
I don't know that I'd want to see him returned immediately to his glory days as Sorcerer Supreme. I think having him be sort of a dark and gritty street corner supernatural trouble shooter ala John Constantine but, you know, with a nobler soul, could be pretty cool and he could work his way up to being the Defender of the cosmos again. That ought to be able to fill a couple of years of comic books.
My favorite period of Doctor Strange comic books were the Steve Englehart scripted books early on in Doc's second series. I think this was probably in the late seventies. Those were cosmic tales about universe shaking events and I would love to see Doc in those sorts of situations again but, I think they would be more worthwhile if he has to work his way back to it.
Come on Marvel… give me more Doctor Strange!!!