Strange must form an allegiance with an unknown alien thief to escape imprisonment and halt an imminent invasion back on Earth.
DOCTOR STRANGE #2
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Jesús Saiz
Colors: Jesús Saiz
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Jesús Saiz
Variant Cover: Declan Shalvey & Triona Farrell
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Strange has lost his connection to the recently returned magic of his world. After a meeting with Avengers ally Tony Stark, who knows something about picking up the fragile pieces, Strange has bee pointed in the direction of the stars to find answers to his problem. But no sooner does he set off on his quest than he is snared at the first hurdle and falls to a planet that doesn’t know the meaning of the word magic, but has some very formidable looking tech.
What You’ll Find Out:
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. With no magic to save him Stephen is held prisoner by the alien Grynda and being subjected to all manner of degradation, such as being forced to clean the feet of the leader of his captors, having to suffer the humiliation of being dragged around tied to a drone and even suffering cruel experiments performed on him to satisfy their curiosity.
After nearly three months of his racking his brain for a way out a new cellmate is thrown in with him and she takes an immediate interest in him and his space suit, in the hopes of finding a way to escape. Introducing herself as a ‘daughter of A-Tarrek’ we learn she is an archaeologist and was captured raiding a stash of artifacts that don’t conform to Gryndan science. Recognises the symbols he has been scratching on the wall, she draws a picture for him of the artifact she was caught stealing and he, in turn, recognizes the Eye of Basphorus, a gem that could grant just one unlimited spell for the wielder. And just like that she suddenly realizes where he is from.
Using his translator and a device she calls a technowand, they quickly form a plan together to attract the attention of the guard and escape the cell. Witnessing her use of technomancy is something Strange finds equal parts admirable and unbelievable and as they head for the hangar bay he spies starships being deployed. Something the Gryndans were not remotely interested in before his arrival and he realizes he was the cause and he must stop them, just as the alarm is raised and they become the quarry of every soldier present. But she has other ideas and quickly locates the gem she had been captured attempting to steal, and steals it, along with some of his belongings. When he fails to activate the gem they make a break for her ship and make good their escape, but Strange still struggles with the thought of leaving without trying one more time. Throwing himself into the void of space with the gem, he tries one more time.
Enveloping the planet in a barrier, stopping any egress, he momentarily floats helplessly spent of any method of escape, due to the gem only being able to be utilized once. That is until his erstwhile ally arrives and scoops him up. It is her turn to be stunned by his ability and he explains that the spell demanded Adrenalin, which he couldn’t muster the last time. Finally, introductions are made and when he finds her name Pkzkrfmknna hard to pronounce, he simply nicknames her Kanna and she asks where he wants to go, to which he replies wherever there is more of what they just found. Meanwhile, in an undisclosed location, Strange’s actions have not gone unnoticed. There must be a price to pay. Strange knows all too well, there always is.
What Just Happened?
Writing: Last issue Mark Waid was slightly overcome in the melodrama of it all, but this second installment he’s reined it in somewhat and had me a tad more interested and slowly but surely I am beginning to believe in this new fish out of water element. What could easily have come off as a ‘seen it all before’ by the book, escape from alien prison narrative, pulled off some high stakes drama and a last minute save by Strange himself and it actually paid off. In true magician sleight of hand, I was paying so much attention to the new character I was totally unprepared for Stephen to pull off the stunt the way he did. And so was she. However, I am still not connecting to him as I have previously been. There needs to be more thought put into his own introspection and have me empathize with his plight in a way I am still just not feeling. Even seeing him polish the boots of his captors and succumb to their torture, I didn’t have the feeling of empathy or any imminent peril.
And we still haven’t touched on HOW it is he got in the position he is faced with in the first place. Also, are we to believe Strange has been away from earth nearly two and a half months and nobody is looking for him? Not even Tony Stark, who sent him on this quest in the first place when they had their meeting of the beards? Not even a tracker stored in his craft? Considering he entrusted a spacecraft with some considerable dollar value to an inexperienced space pilot, I’m not buying into it. Maybe Stark’s days in the Illuminati have convinced him that throwing people into space is the only way to ensure the focus stays on him alone? Narcissism at its worst. I’m also going to go out on a limb here and call the Eye of Preposterous a MacGuffin, a pure plot device that will serve no further use. Although the function it performed was stunning and if there is more out there like that, Strange won’t need any of the old trappings of magic.
Art: The photorealism continues and wow. The Gryndan race and their gargantuan ships look stunning and Jesús Saiz’s depiction of alien cityscapes is worthy of the vision of Lucas himself. His visuals of backgrounds in no way detract from the foreground either, by any means. The scenes of Kanna using her technomancy device and Strange performing his epic last-minute save are breathtaking and deserving of big budget movie effects. Again a stunning cover by the interior artist, ensuring satisfaction throughout and also breathtaking variant by Declan Shalvey & Triona Farrell, both covers perfectly showcasing Strange in peril in space.
Characters: “Who IS this Pkzkrfmknna, this impatient daughter of A-Tarrek?” I thought. She blithely arrives on the scene, eyeing up any magic and tech, like a thieving magpie looking for shiny things and rattles on and on, yet gives very little away about herself. Oh and, archaeology, the study of the esoteric, metaphysical, secret and hidden? ACTUALLY a thing! She’s scrounging around a planet that knows nothing of magic, an archeologist looking for magical artifacts. A plant maybe? Placed in his cell to get info? I. Did. Not. Trust her!! And at first, neither did he. And then…BAM! She saves his bacon. Surprise number one. then she calls him an Earthbilly (hilarious) clearly implying she knows Earth, surprise number two. And with that, I fell in love with her. She looked to be just your typical rogue alien bounty hunter or smuggler but no, action girl got some moves.
Seeing Strange being dragged about by a common drone and not even the soldiers, it almost compounds the obvious feeling that they don’t even remotely see him as a threat. So when I am not connecting with him as a character, at least I am seeing that he is relatable in some way to someone, even if it is as a speck hardly worth worrying about, other than to exploit and plan to dominate his species.
One or two small niggles though. Just how DID the Gryndans manage to discover the location of Strange’s race from experimenting on HIM and not from his craft or even his space suit? From his memories and genetics? Does he have a map in his DNA? Also, as so-called beings of science, I would have at least expected them to remove the suit from his cell, not casually leave it in there with him. And also just who took a photo in space of Strange sealing off the Gryndans, thwarting their plan of extraterrestrial travel? With the demonic looking hand coming from the shadows at the end and the mysterious official type considering the consequences of what he has discovered, clearly, this is foreboding of the highest order. That, unlike the Eye of Basphorus thingy, has more merit as a plot device.
Overall kudos has to go to Marvel for keeping the Legacy numbering AND the new one, thus ensuring they both satisfy the readers and the marketing division who are always so hot on #1 releases as we all know this is good for sales, if not those who like tradition.
Final Thought: It all looks very shiny and full of spacey goodness but we need to know who the big bad is and SOON so I forget to focus on plot holes.
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