Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Post No. 549"


I picked up a few copies of the 2004 Marvel Comics/"Marvel Knights" series, Strange and have been reading through them.

Although I wasn't overly-impressed with the scripts by J. Michael Straczynski (someone whose work I generally look forward to reading), I must admit that I was indeed very impressed by the cover painting on issue No. 1 by Brandon Peterson(above illustration, and a much larger reproduction Here; much more so than his interior artwork (which looks so much like many other modern comic book illustrators). He excells on the various covers I've seen, but perhaps he just takes more care with those since it's the first thing one sees when viewing comics on the stands and the primary grab point to get you to pick up the comic and buy it.

This cover, though, I felt transended the ordinary cover work I've seen in the past few years, and bridges on the point of fine artwork; something suitable for framing and displaying in one's own home. It has the "explorer feel", and high detail of beauty which quite took me by surprize.

Now, the reason I didn't care too much for the scripts is because, once again, someone tries to re-write the origin and history of an iconic comic book character into their own image. Not that the occasional updating of a character to fit more modern times and become more relavant to its readers isn't a necessity "at some point", but poor ol' "Dr. Strange" has, quite bluntly, been put through the wringer one too many times.

The original origin presented by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in Strange Tales #115 (1963), was pretty muich perfect and complete for its time. Strange is an aloof surgeon who cares more for the money than his amazing ability to heal people, and that over confidence and "nose-up-in-the-air" attitude eventually causes him to become reckless, and he has an automobile acident which damages his hands, causing him to no longer to able to handle a scalpel.

Over the years this changes to where Strange wasn't alone in the auto, but also had his wife who was carrying his yet unborn child, and the latter two were killed.

In this version now, Strange didn't have an auto accident at all, but is severely injured in a skiing accident. "Why" this unnecessary change was made, I don't know, but it's sort of just...silly.

We also find that "Clea" is now some sort of martial arts expert designed to protect Strange, and that "The Ancient One" is no longer this frail, old man, but dresses in designer clothing and is the supreme protector of keeping the chaos from our otherwise normal plain of existence.

Overall, I'd give this series no more than a "Fair" rating; a 3 on a scale from 1 to 5. The first issue is worth the buy just "for" the Peterson cover art. Other covers in the series impressed me not as much. Might be something one would want to read as a collected TPB rather than hunting for back issues.

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