Review – Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 (Marvel Comics)

Hell Breaks Loose in Doctor Strange: Damnation #1

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 is the start of the four part mini-series that sees everyone’s favorite mystical doctor trying to do some good and ending up doing something very bad. You see, in the events of Secret Empire, Las Vegas was destroyed, people died and the whole city was gone. Well, Stephen Strange decides with his magic power boost he is going to do some good and undo that calamity!

Doctor Strange Damnation #1 Marvel Comics var. cover by Greg Smallwood
var. cover by Greg Smallwood

To the shock of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange does bring back Las Vegas and everyone lost in that tragedy. There is one problem, though. It seems that when Las Vegas was destroyed it went to Mephisto’s world and he and his demons quite liked “Sin City”. When Doctor Strange brought back Las Vegas he brought Mephisto with it. And now Mephisto wants to take over the rest of the world! Doctor Strange is going to need some help to put the evil devil cat back in the bag. Luckily, Wong has a crew of Marvel heroes just for the job!


Writers Nick Spencer and Donny Cates have teamed up to tackle this mini-series, as both have involvement in different story elements that take place in Doctor Strange: Damnation #1. Nick Spencer was the writer behind Secret Empire that leads to the destruction of Las Vegas, while Donny Cates has been the current writer on Doctor Strange. I would like to know the breakdown between the two, who scripted, dialogue etc… I am sure it is out there somewhere. Donny Cates usually has a way with characters and epic storylines that make them feel big-scale and small-scale all at the same time (check out his current run on Thanos or read God Country). While I feel Spencer tends to have a more comedic edge to his writing (in the past at least). So I would really like to see how these two worked together on this series.

As far as this first issue goes it is pretty solid writing-wise. I will say it takes a while to get going. There is a lot of setup and I am a little concerned that it was changed from a 5-issue series to a 4-issue series. Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 only started the engine. There are some fantastic scenes throughout, but it does not feel until the very end like the story is ready to let loose.


Rod Reis handles the art duties in Doctor Strange: Damnation #1. Reis’s style took some time, but it really grew on me throughout the 36 pages. At first, I did not like the looser style and the watercolor look to the series. It threw me off a bit (maybe I spent too much time looking at the beautiful Greg Smallwood variant cover). As I continued on with the story Reis’s character designs grew on me and when Mephisto showed up I was sold! Some shots do lack a little detail and there are a couple of “awkward” scenes with character placement, but those are few and far between.

Reis has some beautiful panel layouts throughout Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 and his coloring work makes this series immediately eye-catching. I am guessing Reis does use some type of watercolor, as it has that feel and look to it. He gets some very different colors with whatever technique he is using that looks great on the pages. Reis also gets some fantastic facial expressions throughout this issue, he really nails the character “acting” in this issue.


Look, I was pretty hyped about Doctor Strange: Damnation when it was first announced. Mainly because of Donny Cates’s involvement and the fact that a lot of my favorite Marvel Heroes would be in the series (Moon Knight, Iron Fist, Elsa Bloodstone, Ghost Rider). The first issue was a little bit of a letdown only in the fact that it was a setup issue. Not that some interesting things did not happen, or that it was not an enjoyable read. It just has me worried that with only three more issues to go that things might get a little rushed. Rod Reis’s art at first had me a little disappointed, but after a few pages it works tremendously well with the story and his style continues to grow on me. I will say that the final page in Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 refilled my hype meter to 100%!


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Brent Jackson

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