Issue by Issue – Doctor Strange Vol.2 #71

Writer – Roger Stern
Artist – Paul Smith
Colours – Bob Sharen
Letters – John Workman

With this issue, Doctor Strange finally heads to the Dark Dimension to confront Umar over her attacks and if possible, meet up with Clea. Roger Stern begins things with a different look at Umar, one that finds her being somewhat nice for a change. It is actually quite disturbing in a way, but one has to believe that for a time in her life, she was not always the monster she has shown herself to be. Interestingly enough, readers are also treated to the history of Umar and her brother Dormammu, how they came to the Dark Dimension which was once a home for wizard-kings, of how they seemed to have had the best intentions of aiding the people better themselves, most especially the ruler and how eventually because of chance, they took up the mantle of rulers themselves. The past is the past though and as it stands, Umar rules with an iron fist which is why Clea and a large number of the Dark Dimension’s citizens are rebelling. It is here that Strange finds himself now, hidden in plain sight after masking his aura and his appearance and when a fight breaks out, he finds it impossible not to help and risks all by exposing himself. Stern packs the book full of intrigue, action and mystery and it is by far, the best story that has graced this title after far too many that did not. The backstory on the residents and rulers of the Dark Dimension made for very compelling reading and it is nice to finally see things in a different light, especially where it concerns long-standing villains of Doctor Strange. One thing that the reader can take away is the fact that the residents of the Dark Dimension have essentially, always been innocents, yet always under the heel of one warlord or another. It brings everything that is happening in the present into context and shows the reader just why it is that Clea and her compatriots are fighting, though Dormammu and Umar are reason enough. Paul Smith does an incredible job illustrating the story and the best scene out of it all is the final panel where Strange and Clea reunite, a moment that has been far too long in the making.

4 out of 5

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