Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme Faces His Worst Enemy in Death of Doctor Strange #5 (Review)

Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett’s Death of Doctor Strange #5 is a masterful character study that reveals the Sorcerer Supreme as his own worst enemy.

Who killed the Sorcerer Supreme? That is the mystery that has plagued the Marvel Universe for months in the pages of Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett’s The Death of Doctor Strange. The Marvel comic series started with a bang, setting out to fulfill the promise of its premise by taking down Stephen Strange in a blaze of glory. Along the way, the book has highlighted Strange’s importance while simultaneously examining the mistakes he’s made throughout his life. now, in The Death of Doctor Strange #5, the sins of Stephen Strange are laid out for all to see.

The Death of Doctor Strange #5 opens with the young Strange confronting Kaecilius for murdering Doctor Strange. Kaecilius, who grafted the Sorcerer Supreme’s hands onto his body, attempts to attack the young Strange. Luckily, and thanks to some forward-thinking, the young Strange has aligned himself with numerous magicians and uses their power to regenerate the elder Strange. The process twists Kaecilius’ body and turns him into the elder Strange, saving the day. Despite bringing Doctor Strange back to life, the surviving magicians realize they have another task ahead of them, and set out to defeat the Three Mothers. Unfortunately, in doing so, the Sorcerer Supreme must make a decision that will impact the landscape of the Marvel Universe forever.

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Throughout The Death of Doctor Strange, Jed MacKay has proven to be one of the brightest rising stars in comics. In The Death of Doctor Strange #5, MacKay uses the bleak premise of the series to mask a powerful story about redemption and fate. MacKay grapples with multiple versions of Strange and uses their unique voices to comment on the Sorcerer Supreme’s hubris and development over the years. The young Strange is bold and more virtuous than his later self, which makes him an endearing lead. The elder Strange is wise and accepts that he can’t hold onto the idealism that once guided him through life. Each voice feels like the same man while reflecting their equally valid perspectives. The writing depicts a great character study in a captivating plot.

Lee Garbett’s contributions to The Death of Doctor Strange are also critical towards the book’s success. At times, Garbett’s art is downright horrifying, such as when The Three Mothers and Peregrine Child attack England. Elsewhere, Garbett makes magic feel otherworldly and enticing. Given that so much of this story hinges on contrasting the dark and list aspects of Stephen and his world, Garbett’s ability to bounce between different genres with ease has been nothing short of amazing. Additionally, colorist Antonio Fabela does an excellent job creating a mystifying palette in this comic series. Fabela uses vibrant colors to give the cast a heroic visual presence and then switches to ethereal color washes for the magical effects. This decision enhances the otherworldly allure of their powers and distinguishes the characters from a world that can’t possibly contain their abilities.

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Still, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of The Death of Doctor Strange is that it succeeds in making a worthwhile statement about the title character. With nearly 60 years of stories to his name, Doctor Strange has been Sorcerer Supreme, a Herald of Galactus, and a member of multiple superhero teams. Despite this impressive summary, Stephen dies at the hands of a foe he has beaten time and time again. This unremarkable death shows that Strange’s hubris is his worst enemy and the one opponent he can’t ever escape.

The Death of Doctor Strange #5 is a masterful issue that fulfills the bold ambitions of the title promises. This concluding chapter satisfies the series’ narrative and sets Clea up for a starring role in stranger. While the good Doctor will surely come back someday, The Death of Doctor Strange is one hell of a way to go out.

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