Doctor Strange holds an odd place in the Marvel Universe. Despite being the go to character for magic related story lines, he has struggled to maintain a monthly series. As much as Doctor Strange has ties to the rest of the heroes floating around, he is still largely a B or even C list figure, relegated to guest appearances or the team up sphere of use.
Brian K Vaughan took these aspects and recrafted Doctor Strange in the miniseries “The Oath”. Strange is not envisioned here so differently from what a longtime reader may expect. He is a man of inner peace, confidence and wisdom. What Vaughan manages to do is retell the character’s origin interspersed into the present story. This is done in such a manner that one can easily recognize the arrogance that stuck with Strange in his pre-hero days. It is a welcome introduction for a person who may not be familiar with Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.
The story starts as a mystery of who broke into Strange’s home and shot him. From there on the story grows and includes some corporate intrigue, mixed with otherworldly threats, and tough choices. Vaughan delivers a fresh story and a new take, so anyone can jump in.
The ties to the history of Steven Strange are told through flashback that sheds additional light on his medical career, and brings it together with the present day investigation. Strange’s origin is recapped in a swift manner that keeps the story moving. The origin of the character is boiled down to show how it connects to the present tale while also ensuring a new reader is up to speed.
Strange in this story is in full detective mode, even partnering with another heavily connected hero in The Night Nurse to serve as his “Watson”. Strange’s knowledge of the occult as a detective has not been particularly played with until this story. The allusions to the famed Arthur Conan Doyle and the tone would not feel out of place in such classic literature.
Many of the familiar elements of Doctor Strange appear. Old enemies are brought to the page to flesh out more of the history for new readers, while still keeping a fresh villain for Vaughn to use as he sees fit. Longtime ally Wong is taken from the more offensive stereotype as Asian manservant, and instead comes across as a dutiful ally to his cause. The art of Marcos Martin even captures eldritch horror and odd imagery that has long been a staple of the character.
With Doctor Strange well on its way to being the next big hit for Marvel, The Oath is the perfect place to start if you left the film craving more of the supernatural and surreal. If you have never heard of Strange before the film this is the story that will fill you in and get you hooked. If you are a longtime fan, this is the story that gives us the freshest take on the character yet.
Nick is trying to learn how to astral project and hunting down his cloak of levitation (his wife already named it Capey). You can keep up with his progress on Twitter @dare_to_geek.