Review: Doctor Strange Annual #1

Doctor Strange Annual #1 cover
Cover by Dave Cockrum

Doctor Strange Annual #1|
Published and © by Marvel, 1976

Title: “… and There Will Be Worlds Anew!”
Synopsis: A quest to find Clea finds Dr. Strange embroiled in a plot for the future of the mythical Phaseworld.

Writer (co-plotters): Marv Wolfman and P. Craig Russell
Writer (script): Wolfman
Artist: Russell

Review: As the comic-book medium matured, there were inevitable growing pains. This annual is one such example. On one hand, it features a huge step forward for artist P. Craig Russell. His art here lacks the angular polish that would become his signature, but the Kaluta-ish rendering is detailed and lush. The story wants to meet Russell’s artistic ambitions with mythological heft, but is saddled with clunky back story to make it fit into continuity. This tale would have stood better on its own – and actually would, decades later, when Russell would revisit the material for an original graphic novel.

Grade: A-

Cool factor: P. Craig Russell makes “the jump.” His earlier work showed potential but this is an auteur outing. And bravo to his work as a colorist here, too!
Not-so-cool factor: The Clea-is-missing subplot. It’s DOA and never recovers.

Notable: This issue was reworked to become a 1997 graphic novel, “Doctor Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?”

Character quotable: “Torture me, kill me if you can, do whatever you believe you can do, but I’ll never scrape at your feet – I’ll never bow like your humble pet!” – Dr. Strange, feeling feisty
A word from the co-writer/artist: “In the spring of ’73, purely for my own enjoyment, I began work on a Doctor Strange story.” – P. Craig Russell, talking about the genesis of this issue, in an introductory essay in “Doctor Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?” collection, 2016

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Sequential Reaction (Vol. 1) on Jan. 22, 2016.

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