With the conclusion of “Strange” this month, I found myself scratching my head a little bit. I understand that often a mini-series serves as a backdoor to an ongoing series, so it makes sense to leave some stories hanging to make people want to stick around for the future. But unless there’s an announcement of a “Strange” ongoing just days away (or perhaps one that already happened that I managed to miss), I don’t think this is the right way to excite readers.
After Mark Waid set up Strange with Casey as his new apprentice earlier this mini-series, everything comes to a head here; magic is collapsing, Casey’s soul is missing, and Strange doesn’t have his abilities any more to stop things. Except that, suddenly, he seems to have just that. For a character who’s supposed to be depowered these days, it’s amazing how he seems to always have just enough ability to do whatever is needed. Considering we had such an interesting set-up earlier in the mini-series (Casey with the ability but none of the knowledge; Strange with the knowledge but no longer the ability) it’s sad to see that tossed to the wind for expediency’s sake.
And as for Casey herself, well, I think it’s safe to say that this is an issue that doesn’t treat the character terribly well. Presumably if “Strange” goes to a full series we’ll see more of her, and as someone who’d enjoyed her presence up until now I’d like to see her end up in a better place down the road. As it is, without the mention of future comics featuring Casey it’s a nasty and slightly mean-spirited ending to her story. While from a technical standpoint you can see why Waid did it, the fact that it’s an unsatisfying ending to a mini-series on an emotional level cannot be ignored.
Emma Rios’ art is the strongest part of this issue; I like how she draws cosmic characters like Eternity, with squiggles and spheres inside its form, all glowing beautiful courtesy Val Staples. As Rios draws Strange trying to fix everything once more, it’s a good reminder on why she was chosen to draw this mini-series. She’s made a jump over the last year from “Hexed” to “Strange” and hopefully we’ll see more of her art getting recognition down the line. Whatever her next project, though? I hope it’s a little more balanced in the writing department. The end of “Strange” may have been aimed to make readers want to see more, but all it really did was leave a bad taste in my mouth.