Blood in the Aether

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Doctor Strange: Blood in the Aether by Jason Aaron, &al.

Aaron Bachalo Fabela Doctor Strange Blood in the Aether

This collection of the contemporary Doctor Strange comic book covers issues 11-16, immediately following Strange’s costly defeat of the trans-dimensional anti-magic army of the Empirikul. His powers are at a complete ebb, and his accustomed sorceries are mostly inoperable. So this plot arc has a “greatest hits” of his old foes competing for the privilege of snuffing him while he’s down. Jason Aaron’s story makes Strange into a more dedicated pugilist that he has been in the past. There’s some amusing banter between Wong and Zelma. And the arc ends with a tease regarding difficulties to come.

I like that Strange now carries a sword, which is not for fighting, it seems. It is part of an occult magician’s kit, after all. Most of the compositions/pencils in this book are by Chris Bachalo, whose work is commendable, showing influence from the relatively recent work of Emma Rios, and making good as a successor to Dikto, Brunner, and Colan for bringing a coherent and engaging visual style to Marvel’s flagship occult superhero title. His re-imaginings of Nightmare and Dormammu are top notch. Issue 11 had art from Kevin Nowlan, and I was not so impressed there.

The most amusing issue of the arc is perhaps number 14: “A Gut Full of Hell,” in which Satana attempts to conscript Strange into her infernal enterprise. I was relieved to find out that Strange was still capable of astral projection, surprised that that his astral form was nekkid, and dismayed that someone felt the need to eclipse his butt with a black rectangle of modesty.

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