REVIEW: Doctor Strange #385 (Loki: Sorcerer Supreme Finale)

The long awaited final showdown between Strange and Loki may have to wait as the God Of Lies faces off against his nemesis The Void.

Author: Donny Cates
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Cover Variant: Mike Deodato Jr. & Carlos Lopez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:
In a tournament that takes place every thirty years or so Loki has been granted the title of Sorcerer Supreme and is using his new title to seek out a dangerous spell known as The Exile Of Singhsoon. A spell which Strange has, in his questionable wisdom, bound to the soul of his unknowing apprentice Zelma Stanton. A spell which will grant all the worlds magic to he who possesses and casts it. Strange believes removing it will destroy not only Zelma but the very fabric of existence itself. In a bid to stop Loki from discovering its whereabouts he has taken the drastic steps of begging Yggdrasil the World Tree for the boon of magic and is attempting to use The Sentry as his vessel to pay the price of the physical damage inflicted during his forthcoming battle. As he faces Loki in mystical battle he smashes down the door to his own Sanctum Sanctorum to free The Void, the dark alter ego of The Sentry he previously held trapped, allowing it to take control of him. Those keeping score will remember The Void has once killed Loki. The Void is keeping score…as is Loki.

What You’ll Find Out:
In a rare sight, Loki is standing paralyzed in what can only be described as utter fear and shock in front of the billowing mass that is a Void-possessed Doctor Strange. As Zelma asks Loki what is happening Strange is considerate enough to inform us, the humble reader, that he didn’t actually bring The Sentry back to life. He found him wandering the stars searching for a way to die and when Bob asked him to kill him Strange was at a loss as to how he could. Meanwhile, The Void is in full control and relishing the magic and the knowledge it has found in the mind of the good Doctor and wishes to bestow some of it upon his audience and touching a finger to Zelma reveals eldritch light emanating from her, much to her horror and confusion. Possessed as Strange is he can feel the thoughts of those around him. From Zelma’s fear and shock to Loki’s hate leveled at him at the realization of what he has done. As Loki fights off the looming menace of the maniacally laughing Void he tells Zelma of the spell of Singhsoon and where Strange bound it and promises to fix it, plunging his hand into the center of the light, absorbing the resulting energy as it explodes outwards.


As Loki works to unbind the spell and take it into himself Strange feels the effects upon the magical realm. The Void cheers him on but is shocked by Loki’s next step. With the newfound untapped and unlimited magical power he has at his fingertips, he wrenches Strange away from The Void and demands he help. It’s Strange’s turn to be shocked as he counters that without magic he can do nothing. Loki seems to have anticipated this and draws on the power of all magicians in a blinding flash of energy that it becomes apparent they all feel. In awe, Strange asks what he has done as he can feel the power within him again. Loki announces he has used the spell to consolidate the worlds magic and jump-started the dragon lines. Strange asks in bemusement if he has brought magic back and Loki asks what else did he think he intended to with the spell, before telling him not to answer that question. He reveals the situation is still not fixed, the damage caused by the Empirikul was severe, but hopefully, the temporary fix is enough to deal with the threat of The Void. As they make ready to fight together Strange begins to warn Loki he will take issue if Zelma has been hurt. Loki just brushes it off and focusses Stephen’s attention at the task before them. Meanwhile, an ominous sonic boom approaches across the skyline.


Just when all seems lost The Sentry arrives and delivers a resounding blow to The Void and it’s the turn of Loki to be stupefied (again) as they discuss his return. Deciding to ignore the semantics the God and the Doctor join the battle as Strange directs them to maneuver The Void back to his prison within the Sanctum Sanctorum and with a final push of magic and might the tide is turned with a flash of light and they wrangle him back inside and lock the door again.


Strange is just about to congratulate the team on a job well done when Loki shouts a warning and barely manages to raise a mystical barrier in time to protect the shocked Strange as Sentry launches an attack on him and Strange himself protests his innocent intent. The Sentry calls him a liar and reminds him as he unleashes a barrage of forceful blows on the barrier that he promised him The Void was dealt with and they were protecting the world before demanding he never speak to him again and leaving.


As Strange and Loki are left to survey the damage Strange finds himself apologizing to Loki for not trusting him enough to confide in him. Loki ascents that he understands why that might be, given his reputation and admits the whole reason for his taking the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme was to make up for the past. He goes on to vow to carry the burden of Sorcerer Supreme when he is interrupted by Zelma who demands Loki fess up. It seems when he reached into her soul to extract the spell it enabled her to see him as well. Realising the jig is up Loki confesses there never WAS a tournament, it was all an illusion and goes on to argue that the fact the trick was possible in the first place was because Strange was unworthy. He doesn’t get to finish the explanation however as Strange delivers a roundhouse punch to the God of Mischief. He grabs Loki by the neck, demanding to know why. Loki goes into full soothsayer mode and counts off a number of ominous-sounding impending disasters that will test his strength.


Also making mention of the “Final Host” he goes on to warn that rules and pity parties won’t win the impressive list of multiple threats coming his way and that he did him a favor. When all this fails to impress he changes tack and passes it off as an attempt to manipulate him into going to Asgard, then again suggests maybe it all hinged on Zelma and insists it was all because he has seen her future, hinting she will be the NEXT Sorcerer Supreme and he did it to ingratiate himself upon her. Finally, as he throws in he simply did it out of boredom, Strange has had enough and tells him to give him back his cloak, shut up and leave while he still can. Loki relents and just manages to apologize for the death of Bats and is about to explain that he has tried to make up for it when Strange opens a portal and sends him on his way.


Zelma asks where he sent him and Strange just replies nowhere fun but assures her he will be okay. He goes on to thank her and tries to explain his antics when she stops him in his tracks and tells him she is leaving. Not only his actions of hiding the spell within her, but not telling her, teaching her how to deal with it, or even allowing her the opportunity to help were the final straw and says she needs a break from liars as she walks away leaving him to ponder the consequences. Just when he thinks he is alone, however, a welcome voice utters a congratulation and Stephen turns in shock to find…


What Just Happened?
Once again the seamless art was top notch in this grand finale. Gabriel Hernandez Walta excels at the light versus dark battle to end all battles and manages to provide The Void with the necessary menace. The colors of Jordie Bellaire work so well here, as always, with bright neon flashes of magic spell casting by the mages and eye-popping laser blasts from Sentry. And Donny Cates once again delivers some sharp and witty dialogue. As Strange pontificates and blusters about Zelma, Loki is hilarious as he counters that maybe they should get on with the job at hand. To top it off Loki is also in fine fettle when the dust settles as he warns Strange of the things to come. All the while burying several revelations and truths between layers of excuses and a miasma of lies. A fitting return to form for the God of Mischief. In an odd role reversal Strange dances on the moral knife edge here. First, he binds the possibly fatal and vital spell to Zelma’s soul without telling anyone, then threatens Loki for risking her very life despite the obvious skill he so effortlessly displays, not to mention his very actions, which come off more altruistic than Strange. The impromptu cameo of what can only be described as a Who’s Who of The Magical World is on a par with any linking of psychics within the astral plane we’ve seen before.


The guest cameos of Magik, Voodoo, Shaman and Wanda et al, the triple threat battle team-up against The Void, the reverting of the status quo of magic, the foreboding mention of the forthcoming Damnation arc and other possibly important revelations from Loki (something, something Infinity Stones) is all small fry in comparison to the end reveal of the return of Bats as far as I’m concerned. This cherry on the top was all I needed. For those keeping track, I had previously “deducted a point from Gryffindor” for the death of Bats the Bassett and so I’m sure you know what comes next. Yes. Ten points to Gryffindor. Thank you, Donny Cates. It’s almost like you heard me. All other Marvel writers take note…THIS is how you end a story arc!!!

Rating: 10/10
Final Thought: Magic, Muscle and Mischief join forces in a truly spectacular battle royale to get the dark genie back in the bottle.

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