The Doctor is in. Coming off the Death of Doctor Strange event in 2022 and Clea Strange’s run as Sorcerer Supreme in Strange, Doctor Stephen Strange is back with a fresh new run. Written by Jed MacKay, and art by Pasqual Ferry, Doctor Strange #1 sets up Stephen’s return as Sorcerer Supreme and presents new challenges for him to face.
Doctor Strange #1 synopsis
Previously… Doctor Stephen Strange was dead! In those months, much has happened… His wife, Clea, took up the mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Refugees from different mystical dimensions now reside on Earth. The remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secret magic division called W.A.N.D. went rogue until Clea took them down. Now Doctor Strange is back! And it’s time to see what the world’s been up to in his absence…— Jed MacKay, Doctor Strange #1
*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Doctor Strange #1*
Doctor Strange #1 Recap
The issue begins with a nine panel recap. Simply put—the Doctor is back. After being freed from Death’s grip in the finale of Strange (2022), Stephen’s return as the Sorcerer Supreme is the main focus of much of the issue.
Spider-Man asks for his help with a demon running a game for souls, in which poor Peter may have already lost his. Mayor Luke Cage requests for Stephen to assist with magical beings in the city. After an awkward encounter in Strange #1 between Von Doom and Clea, Strange puts Doctor Doom in his place. Stephen thanks Black Cat with her help maintaining some smaller tasks, like feeding the Central Park Dragon—because wherever Jed MacKay goes, Black Cat follows!
While Doctor Strange settles into his role once again, chaos ensues on the other side of the pond. Aggamon, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Purple Dimension, forces alien refugees of Kalumesh back to his territory (which is actually the Gobi Desert) as slaves. Stephen and Clea storm to the refugee camp, looking to save as many as possible. Strange teleports as many as he can back to the Sanctum, temporarily, but a few refugees have already entered the portal to the Purple Dimension.
The pair march through the portal, but offer two very different tactics: Stephen is a Doctor, but Clea is a Warlord. Stephen wants to make arrangements peacefully, Clea wants to take Aggamon’s head. This dynamic certainly makes the two a fascinating couple.
When they reach Aggamon, the Warlord of the Purple Dimension holds no mercy and simply kills one of the refugees. This absolutely infuriates Clea. She readies for an attack, but Stephen stops her. Aggamon proclaims that the Strange’s entrance marks an invasion of his “sovereign territory,” initiating war. In order to save as many refugees as possible, Stephen makes Clea fall back and return to the Sanctum.
Clea is furious, stating, “blood calls out for blood.” But Stephen’s first priority is as a doctor, not a Warlord—so he chooses to prevent more refugees from getting killed due to their presence. Stephen marks that Aggamon will not go unpunished and goes back to his “day job” of helping others with their magical problems. Later, back in the Purple Dimension, Aggamon hears a strange noise. Then suddenly, the final page reveals Aggamon’s head has been severed—leaving the reader on a nice tease.
Is Doctor Strange #1 new-reader friendly?
Traditionally, number ones are a perfect place to pick-up for new readers—Doctor Strange #1 is no exception. Make sure to check out the synopsis page, however! This new run will focus heavily on the events that occur in Death of Doctor Strange and the previous Strange run.
The title, so far, eases into the idea that Stephen has been away with his untimely death and that Clea takes over for some time. While new readers may be confused with Aggamon, it appears that he will not be the main threat moving forward.
This issue also includes a backup, where it appears that Wong has joined Pandora Peters’ W.A.N.D. organization. W.A.N.D. has had an interesting presence recently, as it was re-introduced in Strange. Fortunately, the title page synopsis covers W.A.N.D., so base information is there for anyone who is unaware of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s former magic division.
Is Doctor Strange #1 worth picking up?
I’ve seen a saying on the inter-webs that “Jed MacKay doesn’t miss.” So far, year in and year out, this holds true. I really enjoy Jed MacKay’s work on many of the books he has written. Whether it be Moon Knight, Strange, or Black Cat, or Iron Cat, or Mary Jane and Black Cat (seriously, he writes a lot of Felicia Hardy stories.) Jokes aside, Jed does a fantastic job telling stories that delve deeper into a character’s mythos.
The current Moon Knight run is one of Marvel’s best books on the shelf, and his upcoming Avengers run is among my most anticipated. This issue feels like a first issue, setting the stage for what is to come. I fully trust Jed’s vision for Stephen’s latest threat. If this run is anywhere as good as Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange run from 2015, we are in for a treat.
The art from Pasqual Perry is good. Style is a taste that varies from person to person, but Pasqual provides clean panels. There is a great early page of Stephen outside the Sanctum with Bats, his ghost dog, levitating and enjoying a nice cup of tea. The costume design is classic. Matt Holingsworth’s colors shine on the attire; the speckled-black and bright yellow gloves highlight the stark red Cloak of Levitation—featuring a very high collar!
Overall, if you are looking to jump into a Doctor Strange story, now is a better time than later! I would also recommend checking out the Death of Doctor Strange event and follow-up Strange series if you want the full experience! The Doctor is in, and Jed MacKay is leading the way with new threats heading in the Sorcerer Supreme’s path.
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Doctor Strange #1
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Pasqual Perry
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Alex Ross