The Team is Gathered in Doctor Strange: Damnation #2
The events of Doctor Strange: Damnation #2 obviously take place after the events of Damnation #1 and Doctor Strange #386 (you can read the reviews for both here and here). So, spoiler warning for both of those issues coming up.
Doctor Strange has raised Las Vegas from Hell and brought Mephisto with it. Mephisto is taking souls for the pettiest of “sins” and has even turned some Avengers into Spirits of Vengeance! In Doctor Strange #386 Stephen thought he could beat Mephisto in a card game to win back his fellow heroes and send Mephisto back to the underground. Well, technically Strange did win, but he also cheated, and wouldn’t you know, the “devil” does not take too kindly to that. Mephisto deals with Doctor Strange the way any casino boss would with a cheater: by tying him up and having Thor smash his legs with Mjölnir!
That brings us to Doctor Strange: Damnation #2. Wong and Bats have to gather a group of Marvel heroes that already have a bit of a “dark side” to them. They trudge through the depths of the world to bring together Blade, Elsa Bloodstone, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Brother Voodoo, the Man-Thing and Johnny Blaze. It is a literal ragtag group of heroes Wong has brought together to infiltrate Hell on Earth to save Doctor Strange. Can these heroes stop Mephisto, or can they even get along long enough to make it to Las Vegas?
I am really enjoying the Doctor Strange: Damnation mini-series so far. I have some hang-ups storywise that I will get to, but overall it has been a lot of fun to read. Donny Cates and Nick Spencer seem like they are having a lot of fun writing all of these characters. It does not hurt that these are some of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe, all teaming up.
Doctor Strange: Damnation #2 is basically that scene in the movie where we are introduced to all the team members in really short clips. That is both what makes this issue great and makes it a bit of a downer. The downer part is that it feels a little rushed and that maybe the introduction of the members could have been put in the first issue. That would have allowed for this issue to start out with a little bit more of a bang and really get into the story.
That being said, man, those pages were fantastic. Look, I already know all of those characters and what they are about, but I love how Cates and Spencer introduce them. You can feel their excitement about getting this group together leap off the pages in the writing. Cates and Spencer seem to have a great handle on this group and the dialogue is a joy to read. You will want a Blade and Elsa Bloodstone series after this issue!
Szymon Kudranski takes over art duties from Rod Reis in Doctor Strange: Damnation #2. It is a pretty noticeable shift in styles as Kudranski’s ink lines are a little tighter and his coloring is more “clean.” Kudranski’s art is not bad, but it has some noticeable flaws, mainly in the characters’ faces. There are a lot of blank expressions or expressions that do not match or resemble what is happening in the scene. Also, there is some awkward body positioning in a few scenes that took me personally out of the story because they looked awkward. It is not “bad” art, it just does not feel up to this level.
The art does come around a little better when the heroes enter Las Vegas. The red background looks great and there a few excellent looking scenes, but then the facial expressions still have no emotion to them and again the body positioning on characters in other scenes is off. It would not be so bad if Reis did not have such great cartooning and facial expressions in the first issue; it makes it extra-noticeable in this issue. Look, it is not bad comic book art, but it just does not feel up to par with the first issue.
Overall I am enjoying the story in Doctor Strange: Damnation #2. Yes, I do feel like some of the things in this issue could have been put in the first issue. That does make the pacing feel a little off. That is a minor issue though. The writing of Donny Cates and Nick Spencer is loads of fun. They write this group of heroes extremely well. The art in this issue sadly brings it down a notch as it took me out of the story quite a bit throughout the issue. Still, with only two issues to go, I am with it until the end because the story is just too much awesome to pass up (plus Rod Reis is coming back for issue #4).
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