Doctor Strange #381
Writer: Donny Cates
Art by: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A Review by Robert Coffil
When Donny Cates was announced as the writer for this series after breakout hits at Image and Aftershock, I immediately wondered what would be his take on the character. Not long after that announcement came the beautiful images from Gabriel Walta showing Loki with the Sorcerer Supreme garb so often associated with Doctor Strange. That was when this series initially grabbed my attention.
When you have a series drawn by the artist who did Vision, Gabriel Walta, and the colorist who does all the great books, Jordie Bellaire, as a writer you can either smile gleefully or cower. I feel that Donny Cates was smiling Gleefully. With that talent on Doctor Strange 381, Donny Cates could have gotten away with phoning it in. He doesn’t, and this issue is all the better for it.
Where is Doctor Strange? Thanks to the portrayal of Tom Hiddleston as Loki, the character has grown fonder in the hearts of Marvel fans everywhere. I’m partial to Loki’s appearances in Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers. Nevertheless, Loki is a character whose popularity has grown, so much so that he has replaced Stephen Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme.
Doctor Strange #381 is a comic that relies on delayed satisfaction. I thought that right off the bat Loki would be in our face spewing lies and deceit, but no we have to wait for him the grace his presence on the page. It begins with Stephen’s assistant who was introduced in Jason Aaron’s run, Zelma Stanton, the Librarian of the Sanctum Santorum. Zelma was a character charming, but a neophyte to Magic. In this issue, she is a hardened veteran able to render advice to those seeking advice. Finally, we are introduced to Loki about halfway through the issue he is doing typical Loki things. When we do get to Stephen Strange, it totally feels earned and has me eager to read the next issue.
Gabriel Walta is, at this point in his career, a master. You need a brownstone in downtown Manhattan, he can do it. You need demons attacking the Sorcerer Supreme while he is guarding a damsel in distress, he can do it. However, it’s not just the big splash page moments that Walta is able to display with the utmost effectiveness. It’s the small moments such as the look of astonishment on a person’s face as they walk through the Sanctum Santorum for the first time, he makes every panel work.
Jordie Bellaire is the colorist who works on all of your favorite books. On Doctor Strange 381 Jordie is able to establish mood and a feel for this book that distinguishes it from every other book on the shelf this week. She can do bright an sunny, to make you feel the sun on a lovely day in Manhattan. Conversely, you need the heavy, seedy mood of a dive bar she can do that as well. Jordie Bellaire makes this book pop.
Must Buy! Donny Cates, Gabriel Walta, and Jordie Bellaire are a dream team on this book. Excellent writing, descriptive art, and effusive colors. This book is one that I can’t wait to read the next chapter of.