Doctor Strange #386
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Niko Henrichon
Colors by Laurent Grossat
No pun intended, but it’s been a strange few months for Stephen Strange. After losing the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, he found a small piece of solace in being a vet. After finding out that Loki was after a powerful spell that would let him control all magic, Stephen took some pretty desperate steps to regain his mantle. What makes it worse, Loki tricked him into believing he lost it in the first place. Now Strange is back in his broken Sanctum alone, having driven away everyone in his life and his only companion is the ghost of his dead dog.
Strange is resolved that he is going to fulfill his greatest challenge. As he prepares, Bats comes in and questions his motives for what he is about to do. This issue happens at the same time as Damnation, so it is the prelude to and aftermath of Doctor Strange bringing back the city of Las Vegas. When he brings back the city and those who died in it, he also brought Mephisto as well and the demon has been using the city as a means to torture people for every sin major to minor and his control of the city itself is growing.
He now finds himself in a battle for the fate of the world with Mephisto as the two of them play cards. Strange is pretty confident in his abilities until he realizes that the demon is playing a different form of the game. One that is a lot more demonic in nature. As the two start the game, Stephen is unaware of what is going on in the city outside and begins to lose control of his temper as Mephisto baits him by talking about Loki and recent events. This leads Strange to a desperate gamble (couldn’t help it) that could lead to some serious consequences for himself and the Avengers.
I love the narrative in this issue. Cates has given Strange the arrogance and bravado that he was known for and there always seems to be a slight glint in his eyes like he’s working three steps ahead of everyone. I also like that his machinations are causing issues with the people around him and I hope that there is a reason for his acts so far, including the ones in this issue. I’m interested to see where this goes and that’s a testament to good writing. There are so many unexpected twists that the story takes that work for both the narrative and characters.