Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Colors: Chris Bachalo, Antonio Fabela, and Java Tartaglia
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
What They Say:
The Empirikul, an interdimensional super-science army, has destroyed or defeated all masters of magic and mystical landmarks on Earth. In order to save Stephen and his colleagues, MONAKO, the once Prince of Magic, sacrificed his life to teleport them to safety. Now, Strange must find every scrap of magic left in the world and take the fight back to the enemy.
Content: (Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Doctor Strange #8 brings us part 3 of the storyline called “Last Days of Magic”. We see Doctor Strange himself spelunking and making his way past the various perils of a cave, lamenting that, “If I still had magic, this would be a snap. But I don’t. And it isn’t.” Strange is obviously not liking having no magic, and the dangers in the cave, such as large crocodiles, are only making it worse. He laments that life in this time is hard for the Sorcerer Supreme, but upon thinking this, he immediately backtracks with, “You know what? I shouldn’t even call myself that anymore. I don’t deserve that name. Doctor Strange, Archaeologist of the Impossible. That sounds a bit more applicable these days.” Strange has spent his days since losing his magic and being teleported away by Monako in searching out, along with his allies, any remaining magical items they may be able to use against the Empirikul. Strange makes his way through the cave, using some old artifacts he found days ago, namely The Helmet of Razadazar and what he calls Isandra Dust. Strange makes his way through the cave, which is littered with now useless formerly magical objects. The scene here makes it clear that Strange has had enough of the recent events, calling the objects around him “useless junk” and when one of the Empirikul’s Witchfinder Wolves attacks him, we get this: “And now they shoot lasers from their eyes. Great. I love surprises.” Stephen just sounds completely fed up with the entire situation. He’s annoyed at how much harder things are without his magic, and Aaron’s writing gives a good showing of where his character is at presently.
Stephen finds a bow in the cave, lamenting that he never passed any of the archery classes that Hawkeye gave him. Soon after the Wolves seem to have flung him onto the getaway car, as his allies, one of which appears to be the Scarlet Witch, speed off with him as the Wolves give chase. After losing them, Wanda and the others tell Strange that thy probably should ask Iron Man for help, but Strange insists that Tony doesn’t even know there’s a problem and that they need to solve it themselves. It’s a good show at how bleak things have gotten. Doctor Strange trusts this with nobody except former magic users, and the idea of even asking someone like Iron Man is scoffed at. Strange seems to blame himself for Monako’s death and seems to me to be taking this mission as a personal one. It feels as if Strange has the notion that he needs to make up for Monako’s death by finding these items and beating back the Empirikul, no matter how impossible it may be. His allies follow him, but it’s clear to me that they’re starting to believe outside help is necessary if the Empirikul is to be beaten.
As Strange is doing this, the Empirikul Inquisitors defile the Sanctum Sanctorum, looking to destroy anything magical in the name of science. After a brief encounter with the Inquisitors, Wong and a Ms. Stanton teleport to Tibet, where we learn that Strange’s cellar door has been opened. Elizabeth claims to have seen something down there, and Strange himself suddenly goes pale and utters, “Oh no.” There appears to be a being made of pain and suffering in his cellar, and the Empirikul just opened the door for it. Strange gives us a dialogue about how when one uses more magic and has to save the world more, the more a sort of “Magical debt” goes up. Wong and Strange attempted to find a way to balance it, and they thought they did. “Until it tried to eat us,” Strange tells us. It’s unknown whyt he couldn’t banish this thing or find a way to remove it rather than keeping it in his cellar. It’s obvious from the dialogue and reactions that this being is something to be feared. Doctor Strange locked it away, and it easily got rid of the Inquisitors that came to investigate the cellar initially.
If the scene in the cellar is any indication, or if the “Next Issue” picture is, this being of pain and suffering will be very important coming up when Strang, Wanda, and the others go “Way Down in the Hole”. It appears that the Empirikul won’t be the only problem to contend with soon, now that this thing has a way out of the cellar. Strange treats this thing like a big deal, Wanda noting that he’s gone pale when he realized the cellar has been opened. This thing might be worse than the science army, but things will have to be dealt with as they happen. The art in the issue is pretty good, but nothing especially fantastic. There are times it comes off looking pretty good, such as the scenes with Wong and Stanton, or the one panel of Elizabeth, one of Stranges allies, near the end. The art on the being at the end is dark and creepy looking, sporting many mouths and eyes. Though it is shrouded in darkness, it’s the best-looking thing in the book. The book gives a good sense of where Strange and his allies are at and the coming threat.
This was, all in all, a pretty decent issue. Strange’s group and the Empirikul appear to be about to face a new enemy in this odd cellar being. Strange has recovered one more artifact, cynic though he now appears to be. Strange seems to take Monako’s death personally, and it looks and feels as if he won’t rest until the Empikikul are defeated. The Empirikul themselves is something we don’t get to see much of. Sure we get a few laser shooting Wolves and some robotic Inquisitos, but not much in the way of an army this issue. The wolves give Strange a good deal of trouble, and it’s obvious that the Doctor’s allies would like outside help, even bringing up Iron Man. The art in this can be hit or miss, sometimes it’s pretty good, and other times it comes out looking worse. The storytelling turns out pretty good, and Aaron makes a pretty easy to get updated on and follow issue. The “Last Days of Magic” look like their about to be shaken up next issue, and I am excited to see where the new revelations lead us.
Age Rating: Teen+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 25th, 2016