There's a new Sorcerer Supreme in town, and his name is Loki Laufeyson. Having won the mantle from Stephen Strange in a yet-to-be-revealed competition, he's taking to the task with of energy. Others, such as Scarlet Witch and Thor, are apprehensive of his intentions. For Zelma Stanton, it's just another boss.
He is making a couple of changes, though. There is a room in the Sanctum Santorum that Strange left blocked off to him, and he has been unable to get past the door. Furthermore, he wants magic without consequence, which worries the other magic-wielders even more.
As you can see, Doctor Strange #381 overhauls the status quo while still reading quite like Jason Aaron's glorious stint on the book. Is it as good? That remains to be seen; Aaron cultivated the title over a number of issues. However, this is a promising start.
Loki's intentions are left vague to the reader as well. At times, he sees earnest. At other times, there is something concerning in his gaze, especially when discussing magic without consequence and the door Strange blocked off in the Sanctum Santorum.
I'm sure the answer lies somewhere in the middle; modern Loki has not been as outright malicious as he has been in the past (or "Old Loki" is now). This won't be a permanent change I suspect. I'm all but certain it won't be as long-lasting as something like Sam Wilson or Bucky Barnes's stints as Captain America.
There is a lot of humor and quirkiness. Loki likes to mess with people (he is the God of Mischief). Doctor Strange shows up towards the end, and that ends with a glorious moment of dry humor that I wouldn't be able to write no matter how hard I tried.
That being said, I can't claim to be excited about this change. It's a new status quo, and this book has been constantly shifting those since Aaron left the title. Hell, Aaron's arrival was a massive shift in the status quo for a book that hadn't been printed in some time anyway. I'm left wanting stability, which is admittedly a relative concept in a Doctor Strange title. This book promises we won't have any of that for a bit, most likely.
It's still a fun read, though, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't greatly intriguing, Loki is a great character, I dig his relationship with Zelma, and I do wonder where this is going.
Gabriel Hernandez Walta brings his brand of rough-and-grainy art to the title. It fits the dry and off-beat tone very well, and he doesn't have the problem with faces which showed up in his Occupy Avengers work. It worked quite well, and I hope he sticks around as the artist. Jordie Bellaire is a stable and solid color artist, too, and he backs up Walta very well.
With Loki taking on the title of Sorcerer Supreme, the future of Strange is in the air, and I look forward to seeing how this proceeds and resolves. While it may not be what I wanted from the Marvel Legacy relaunch (or whatever) of Doctor Strange, it is an engaging read. I can easily give it a recommendation, so check it out.