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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/09/06
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  Doctor Strange:
The Oath #2

writer: Brian K. Vaughan
artist: Marcos Martin

I have seen many tributes to Jack Kirby by talented artists working on one of his creations. I've never seen someone do a Ditko pastiche. Or if I have, I've never seen one so memorable as Marcos Martin's job on The Oath.

Strange angles, odd alternate dimensions, basic facial expressions and even just the creepy way Dr. Strange's cloak seems to have a life of its own - Marcos has it all down. Like Steve Rude doing Kirby, though, he never loses his own identity in the tribute. It's remarkable work, and if you're a Ditko fan, that alone would make this book worth picking up.

What pushes it over the edge for the rest is that Brian K. Vaughan is writing. With The Oath, Vaughan has truly put Strange in an uncomfortable position. In only one issue (yes, it's the second issue, but I missed the first), he's made Stephen Strange interesting as a lead character. Not even the exalted J. Michael Straczynski managed to pull that one off with last year's Strange.

How do you make Stephen Strange uncomfortable? No, it's not the presence of Night Nurse, though kudos to Vaughan for continuing the effort to make this character viable. It's that he consistently looks for the supernatural to be opposing him, never really able to grasp that maybe more mundane villains might be paying attention to him.

He's also got a sense of a ticking clock, as his faithful companion Wong has an untreatable brain tumor. Seeking answers beyond the veil, Strange comes back with a cure-all. So, duh, actually possessing the cure for cancer just might capture some attention.

Yet his cluelessness makes sense. Dr. Strange has a short list of usual suspects that come back to haunt him again and again. An occasional appearance in Daredevil notwithstanding, he tends to interact with the Marvel Universe only when the otherworldly comes a-callin'.

Apparently, too, the Clea thing has played out, but that's also a reflection of the character's standing with fans. Who really knows his continuity anymore? So again, Vaughan's elevation of Night Nurse to unwanted sidekick could play out into something more interesting. Certainly, she (no secret identity revealed) and Dr. Strange could be put in an almost Nick and Nora Charles position.

Heck, this might almost make the good Doctor seem fun, and he hasn't really been that since Thor: Vikings.

So it's a second issue. It's absolutely worth picking up.

Also on the Stands:

Annihilation #4: See? The Civil War doesn't really matter at all if Annihilus takes over our universe. Keith Giffen is in the middle of an ambitious space opera, with nice art by Andrea DiVito, but jumping in cold to this thing is more than confusing. If you're interested and aren't already involved, wait for the trade.

Bullet Points #1: J. Michael Straczynski has hit upon an interesting "What If…?" idea, though it's not being marketed as such. Perhaps because something of this scope ends up being more of an Elseworlds, and we can't say that about a Marvel book. We can say Tommy Lee Edwards gives it a nice gritty look. Captain America's super-soldier formula never gets made thanks to a timelier Nazi assassin, so instead Steve Rogers dons a prototype of the Iron Man armor. Through a confluence that might be too coincidental but works anyway, Peter Parker grows up without the influence of Ben Parker. And you know that can't be good…

The Cross Bronx #3: "Crime comics are back in full force," trumpets a quote from Ed Brubaker. And he should know. The Cross Bronx, however, isn't a straight up crime comic, as there's an element of the supernatural involved, as well as cultural struggles and prejudices. All you really need to know is that it's good. Really good.

Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius: Happy Franksgiving!: Marvel keeps making these. I keep telling you to buy them. Every special has made me laugh. How about you?

Phonogram #3: I think I can follow the plot; it's the music references that have me up to my neck in confusion. But hey, that's my problem with the nineties, not yours. The book started cool and remains cool, with clean art and a really clever concept. It's just not for the tone deaf.

Wolverine Origins #8: The Carbonadium Synthesizer. I don't know why, but that macguffin just sounds so…well, macguffin-like. Daniel Way has exposed a couple of good secrets of Wolverine's past, but for long-time fans, he also seems to be spending an awful lot of time noodling around in things we did know. Cases in point: a meditation on Jubilee, a flashback to his days running with Sabertooth, fighting Omega Red and then a guest-star that calls him "little uncle." Why should everybody come a-running just because Logan got his memories back?

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw


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