Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE is coming to theaters this week. But who IS Stephen Strange? What does his corner of the MCU look like? And what are his come book origins? This collected edition has some answers…but are they essential?
There are a number of stories contained in this collection.
First up: the two issues of the DOCTOR STRANGE PRELUDE comic. For the Avengers and Iron Man movies, the “prelude” stories tended to be comic book adaptations of the previous movie. AGE OF ULTRON PRELUDE was the adaptation of THE AVENGERS. WINTER SOLDIER PRELUDE was the adaptation of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. IRON MAN 3 PRELUDE? It was IRON MAN 2. I'll let you guess what THOR: THE DARK WORLD's prelude was.
But things get interesting with ANT-MAN PRELUDE and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PRELUDE. Ant-Man's prelude was an adventure of the original Ant-Man, while Guardians of the Galaxy had a Nebula tale and a Rocket Raccoon/Groot adventure – legitimate preludes to their appearances in the movie.
For DOCTOR STRANGE PRELUDE we get a story that does not feature Stephen Strange, but does feature a handful of other Masters of the Mystic arts in some magical situations that would seem to take place before Dr. Stephen Strange becomes DOCTOR STRANGE. It gives a good look into the world, a glimpse at some possible supporting characters, a peek at how magic works.
Second: two modern comics featuring Doctor Strange in recent comic book continuity. The real reason to wait until these MCU PRELUDE comics come in collected editions is for the extras. For Doctor Strange, they include two modern comics: DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH #1 and DOCTOR STRANGE #1 from 2015. This gives readers a nice look at what the character is up to in the Marvel Universe and, no doubt, hopefully entices readers to jump in and start buying!
Third: classic, early appearances of Doctor Strange. STRANGE TALES #110 (from 1963) doesn't have Doctor Strange on the front (that goes to Human Torch in a solo adventure) but it was Doctor Strange's first appearance. STRANGE TALES #115 depicts, “in answer to an avalanche of requests,” the origin of Doctor Strange. And Marvel Premiere #14 (from 1974) is a classic, cosmic, time traveling, mind boggling story featuring Mordo.
Level Seven Analysis
Not essential reading, but it will definitely enhance your appreciation of the character, both in the context of his comic book history, his current place in the Marvel universe, what materials the MCU filmmakers will possibly draw on for his big screen origin, and the status of magic based characters in the MCU before the movie.
Be aware: there are three different styles of storytelling here. The MCU related stories are short and punchy, meant to introduce ideas and characters but not explain much that will be explained and explored in the movie. The classic stories are of a different storytelling period, with more words and a quicker pace, but mostly self-contained. The modern stories are first issues, meant to interest the reader and get them to continue buying the series so while there is some closure, there is also some open ended-ness.
All things considered, though, looking at the stories for what they are intended to be, this is one of the stronger MCU comic volumes.
At $17.00 cover price (perhaps cheaper from Amazon), this is a great purchase for the casual Marvel comics fan who doesn't already have access to the classic stories or the Marvel Cinematic Universe fan unfamiliar with the comics and who wants just a bit more of the MCU.
You can purchase DOCTOR STRANGE PRELUDE on Amazon. (Purchasing ANYTHING after clicking the link doesn't change the prices for you, and yet it still sends a little kickback our direction and helps the podcast. Thanks!)