Doctor Strange #382 from Marvel Comics by Donny Cates, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Cory Petit continues this brand-new arc with the travails of the former Sorcerer Supreme as he finds himself supplanted by Loki himself, and left working as a veterinarian whose new best friend is a talking dog named Bats.
Yes, it's absurd — which, really, is when Doctor Strange as a title is always at its best. But what Cates et al. manage to bring here is the heart in the absurdity, which works out as some of the best emotional drama in the title in some time.
Strange's strained relationship with Zelma, Loki's single-minded mission and why exactly he's after it, and yes, the friendship between Strange and Bats the plain-speaking dog make for a strong amount of emotional connection in a strange world of magic, gods, and superheroes.
This, of course, is the kind of world Walta thrives in, as we all know from his work on The Vision. Already this is feeling it could wind up being a suitable follow-up for the artist in terms of emotional themes that he gets to play with.
Bellaire adds depth to these lines, of course, adding life and warmth to the scenes (and biting cold, too, where required).
The comic shows a range of human drama in the heightened world of the magic Marvel Universe, giving us great comedy all the way to emotional loss.
And to cap it all off, it ends with a twist that is a genuine surprise, and I'm amazed Marvel gave Cates the okay for it, if I'm entirely honest. I'm intrigued to see where Cates et al. go with this, as it adds an interesting new wrinkle to an already intriguing and entertaining mix.
Doctor Strange #382 is a damn near perfect example at painting a human drama in an absurdist scenario in the broadest of strokes that contains all the things that good comics are capable of bringing to the audience. If you'd stepped away from Doctor Strange, as I had of late, now is most certainly the time to come back.