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Review – Doctor Strange #386 (Marvel Comics)

Cheating the Devil in Doctor Strange #386

Doctor Strange #386 ties directly into the mini-event series Doctor Strange: Damnation #1. Doctor Strange has been in a bit of a funk. Yes, he is back being the Sorcerer Supreme and his magic is stronger than ever. The current events have taken a toll on him. Wong is no longer with him, his apprentice has left, the Sanctum Sanctorum is broken, he was possessed by the Void and he has made the Sentry very angry. His dog did come back to life as a ghost, so he has that going for him. Stephen wants to get his groove back, so he decides to do some good. If you have read Damnation #1 then you know Doctor Strange raised Las Vegas from destruction, but he brought Mephisto with it. In Doctor Strange #386 the Doctor makes the mistake of playing cards with the “devil” and that is a game even the Sorcerer Supreme cannot win.

Writing

Doctor Strange #386 Marvel Comics cover by Niko HenrichonDonny Cates does a fantastic job with Doctor Strange #386. He makes the story easily accessible if you have not read Damnation, but also does not make it feel as if he is rehashing the same story if you did read it. He toes that line perfectly for the start of this story. It helps a lot that Cates is also co-writing Damnation. I love the way Cates is writing Stephen Strange. He is down on his luck but still trying to regain the trust he once had. Again along with series like Thanos, Cates does a great job of balancing comedy and seriousness. There are some great jokes and funny things in Doctor Strange #386, but it does not feel overdone or out of place. The seriousness of the story and Doctor Strange’s struggle are still the main focal point of the issue.

The card game between Mephisto and Stephen is delightful. The back and forth banter and the oddness of the game was a ton of fun to read. The situation Strange is in by the end of the issue is, well very unique. It is very “Las Vegas” type story, we will say. I like how Cates has thrown Strange into a gambling story like this and it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

Art

Niko Henrichon takes over regular art duties from Gabriel Hernandez Walta with this issue. Now, Niko Henrichon is not a name I am super familiar with (he did do Pride of Baghdad) but after reading Doctor Strange #386 it is a name I will be seeking out. I get a very James Stokoe type vibe from Henrichon’s art. The facial expressions have an almost manga-like feel to them, not as exaggerated, but you can see some influence there. Those facial expressions work with the story tremendously well as they sell the story being told wonderfully and enhance it greatly. Henrichon has a very detailed style; all the different demons and creatures that inhabit the background are fantastic. I loved just looking at the pages to see what-all Henrichon had squeezed into the pages and scenes.

Henrichon also does most of his own coloring in Doctor Strange #386 (color assist by Laurent Grossat). He does a thing where it seems like a bunch of scratchy pen marks are on his characters and the backgrounds. It is something that seems like it should not work but it fits perfectly with his style. His darker color palette along with these “pen marks” gives a texture to the characters and world. This technique makes his art pop off the pages.

Conclusion

I am usually not big into tie-in issues, but since the mini-series is Doctor Strange: Damnation and this is a Doctor Strange solo series you kind of cannot get around it. Plus it helps tremendously that Donny Cates writes both series. All in all Doctor Strange #386 helps flesh out the events of Damnation #1 a little more. And honestly, this is just a really fun story and interesting situation to put Stephen Strange in. Niko Henrichon’s art is perfect for this story arc and you will find yourself staring at the pages to see all the little details he puts in. This is honestly a great jumping-on point for the series even if you have not read Damnation or any other previous Doctor Strange.


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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