I hadn’t picked up too many Marvel trades for a while because Comic Bento used to send me Marvel stuff fairly regularly and I didn’t like it when I got a book I already had.
Well, there’s no Comic Bento anymore, and after a week of Batman trades, let’s try to stay away from DC for this week and see what comes up, starting with the second volume in Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange series, subtitled The Last Days of Magic.
When last we left Stephen Strange, he was defeated by the Empirikul, a dimension-hopping force that’s out to destroy all magic everywhere. Why? We do get a backstory for him here, and it all comes down to Empirikal believes in science over magic to a religious extreme. It doesn’t matter what kind of magic, whether it’s harmless or malignant. Empirkal sees it as a threat that must be stamped out. He actually reminds me of another Aaron antagonist in the form of Gorr the God-slayer from Aaron’s Thor run. That character slaughtered any and all gods he could, regardless of whether they were evil or not on the basis that all gods were no good.
As it is, Empirikal’s presence seems to be killing all magic, and after an escape, Strange and what allies he has need to go out and find whatever few weak mystical artifacts are still out there to somehow defeat the Empirikal before he finally destroys magic and kills them all.
The biggest weakness here is the artwork. Chris Bachalo isn’t a bad artist, but he tends to clutter the panel and isn’t particularly good at drawing action sequences. The volume also includes a special issue showing other mages, some of them presumably new characters, also fighting back (and generally not doing well) against the Empirikal. Those actually worked well. Aaron’s central concept is the need for magic to find a balance, and by the time this book ends, there’s a great imbalance, and that’s not even getting into the thing in Strange’s basement. As such, let’s say eight out of ten depressing Harry Potter references.