DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION #1 / Writer: Nick Spencer & Donny Cates / Artist: Rod Reis / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham / Publisher: Marvel Comics/ February 21, 2018
Everything has a price. Everything. You know why omnipotent heroes aren’t as popular? Because there are no consequences for their actions. They get to just go around and do whatever they want. There’s no limit to what they can do. And that just gets boring at times. Well what if we have a powerful character whose actions do have consequences? That the only way they can use their omnipotence is either they or someone else must pay the price for said power? That has been the consensus for Doctor Strange since his resurgence from obscurity in 2015. Jason Aaron introduced the idea that for Strange to use his magic it causes him pain unless someone else takes the pain for him. And if he abuses that power, there are consequences. This is explored even further by writers Donny Cates and Nick Spencer and artist Rod Reis in the limited series Doctor Strange: Damnation #1.
The series starts out as a return to Las Vegas, who last we seen was destroyed during Secret Empire. The Avengers are there and ready to pick up the pieces, only for Strange (who is now drunk with power after his current solo issues). Like a careless god, Strange simply resurrects everyone and everything that was lost after the attack during Secret Empire. Noble gestures, but like the saying goes: “The road to hell was paved with good intentions”. In this case, it was literally the road to hell. Because now a certain devil claims he runs the city now.
If this book’s premise seems outdated, that’s because it is. Damnation is not only tying in to an event from last year’s Secret Empire, but it’s also co-written by the writer of Secret Empire, Nick Spencer. And let’s be real here, this was a miniseries Nick Spencer did that Cates came and added some things here and there. Which is fine, but you can obviously tell who did what parts. With the first half being incredibly loquacious (which is Spencer’s style) and the last pages referring to recent Cates Doctor Strange issues. I don’t have a problem with two writers on one project, but the sudden shift in momentum was too jarring not to mention.
Rod Reis is a phenomenal artist but was a *ahem* strange choice for artist on this title. However, he does a great job with his paint like art style that gives the magic and monsters in the book an almost ethereal look. I can see how he had to create additional panels to fit the many word balloons the writers wanted to have. That amount of dedication is admirable and should be pointed out.
The book ends with a promise of things to come, but by the time you get there you might already feel exhausted. A lot of talking and a lot of pages basically gives us little to go on, which is not the books intent. I felt that by the end of the issue I should have been more excited for it than I was. However, with the addition of members joining, I’m staying on this highway to hell.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Superman Neck Snaps
You are now in the presence of The Mighty Hands of Khonshu aka The Fist of the NorCal aka Infinity Knuckles aka Vibranium Clippers aka Terrigen Haze aka Vishanti Slippers aka Latverian Lamborghini aka Adamantium Triceps aka The New Comic Book Daywalker aka Unstable Molecule aka Beats by Pym aka Foster Child of the Atom aka Triple XXX-Gene aka the Walking, Talking Red 100 Emoji. Stop putting pineapple on a pizza.