Written by Mark Waid
Art by Emma Rios
After losing the title of Sorcerer Supreme and passing the torch to Brother Voodoo (now Doctor Voodoo) in a recent New Avengers arc, Dr. Stephen Strange has been conspicuously absent from the Marvel Universe lately. According to this miniseries, it appears that he’s been traveling the world trying to solve whatever supernatural catastrophes he can. His powers have greatly diminished since losing his title, and he has to rely on the spells he learned over the years. While the opening chapter of this mini doesn’t quite live up to the excellence of the previous Dr. Strange miniseries, 2006′s The Oath, writer Mark Waid and artist Emma Rios still provide an entertaining read and an interesting new chapter in the life of the fallen sorcerer.
The basic story of this issue revolves around a deal that the team’s owner made with a demon several years ago in exchange for a winning record (their overall home was 66.6%, appropriately enough). Decades later, the demon and his cronies return to the stadium in which the deal was made and attempts to collect on his deal. While the rest of the crowd thinks they are seeing a normal baseball game, the team is actually playing a team of grotesque monsters. Dr. Strange arrives in the stadium and reveals the true nature of the game to the owner’s granddaughter and convinces her to take him inside the stadium. The issue culminates with Strange at bat against the demons, trying to win the game for the home team and end the curse. This is a rather silly conclusion, but it fits thematically with his new station in life. Once one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, he himself has been “sent down to the minors,” so the baseball plot serves as a nice metaphor for Strange’s own situation and shows how he now has to come up with new and creative ways to defeat his enemies.
Waid’s script is light-hearted and avoids most of the heavy mysticism and darkness of previous Dr. Strange stories. Rios’ art is a little too manga-inspired for my tastes, but it fits the theme of the story pretty well. If the last few pages of this issue are any indication, it looks like Strange will be gaining a new female sidekick, and I can already tell she won’t be half as awesome as Night Nurse was in The Oath. Still, this issue works as the start of a new direction for the good Doctor, a character who until now has not undergone many changes in his nearly 50-year existence. I just hope that Waid gives us more insight as to how Strange is handling his new position and less silly situations for him to fight his way out of. For its originality and potential, this debut issue gets 3.5 out of 5 “Demo-vision” glasses.