Marvel Comics 2019
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Kev Walker
Coloured by Java Tartaglia
Lettered by VC's Cory Petit
Operating out of New York City's McCarthy Medical Institute , Stephen is struggling to find a balance between his two lives, surgery and sorcery. But Stephen's two worlds collided when the emergency room flooded with victims from a seemingly mystical attack by the super-powered mercenary the Wrecker! Blindsided by the Wrecker's new reality-warping crowbar, Stephen was overpowered and left for dead...at the bottom of the Hudson River!
While I am still not a fan of the constant stopping, starting and unabating first issues I am happy to see this creative team bringing this version to life. While I don't imagine that we can see Stephen staying at the hospital long-term but we'll see. What I find interesting abut this is that we see everyone knowing who he is and there are moments it's endearing and others just weird and I do like that scene with the playset that was fun to see. Of course having Dr. Anthony Ludgate back and his being fully unaware of his return, see Chaos War Avengers for more details, is a delightful change of pace. So Mark is definitely shaking things up and ensuring that this is going to be far from typical.
I really do like the way that this is being told. The story & plot development we see through the sequence of events unfolding as well as how the reader learns information is exceptionally well done. From freeing himself from the events of last issue to seeing his old, well Stephen describes that beautifully. Mark is very adept at making the most of the page count and delivering some damn good storytelling within it. The character development we see is flawless if I am honest. From the way Stephen talks, thinks and “allows” we definitely are getting a good look at him and I am definitely intrigued by what we see. The pacing is amazing and as it takes through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way help to create the books strong, interesting and surprising ebb & flow.
There is something going on here, outside the obvious, that is like an itch you can't scratch. You really want to but something is preventing you from doing so. It's like that you know you see but you can't quite put your finger on it. That's Mark for you though the man has more ticks than Houdini when it comes to writing and I am so blasted involved and invested in this so there is no hope of stopping or turning back now.
I was a little harsh on Kev's work last issue and I stand by that for while there is no questioning the man's talent there are just times Stephen looks sickly thin and that's never been a look of his. I love his take on Anthony however and all the linework that we see that goes into how he utilises the varying weights in his attention to detail is nice to see. I will personally, my complete preference, if you utilise backgrounds in the beginning panels of a scene and don't utilise them throughout the page it kind of irks me. I know he's capable because we see some but then I just don't get the need for blank backgrounds. I am a huge fan of the way that Kev brings the Wrecking Crew to life! The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a good, strong eye for storytelling. The colour work is amazing. Those excellent pops of colour showing the powers and abilities are extremely eye catching. The utilisation of the colours and the hues and tones within them to showcase the shading, highlights and shadow work is beautifully rendered.
I love the fact that Wrecking Crew is still around and that they've had upgrades to make them more than a match for Dr. Strange. Also the mystery person or being behind this remaining a mystery means Stephen has to think and find those detective skills and put them to use. I have high hopes for this, which usually means a short run, and seeing Stephen outside the mainstream MCU and instead finding a way to work both sides of the coin as effectively as it will be allowed to him.