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The Empirikul have invaded the Marvel Universe in an attempt to destroy magic once and for all as “Doctor Strange” #6 continues “The Last Days of Magic.” However, Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo and an army of inkers turn in a story that doesn’t go much of anywhere. Its backup feature from Aaron, Mike Deodato, Jorge Fornes, Kev Walker and Kevin Nowlan is ultimately the selling point for this comic.

The eight-page backup gives us several vignettes as a wide variety of people — escape artists, warriors, monarchs and even children — are all affected both by magic as well as its absence. In each of them, we get brief snippets of stories that feel intriguing and inviting. Some use magic to entertain, some to rule over others, and others still just to make their lives a little better, but they all feel different and use their length perfectly. I’m not necessarily sure I’d want an entire book about the girl who’s been animating her stuffed animals to be her friends (although the appeal of even more gorgeous art from Nowlan is certainly there), but the before-and-after depiction of her charmed life pulls the heartstrings perfectly. Fornes’ art in the two-pager about the evil Feedles also stands out, reminiscent of Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon’s art with thick ink lines and provides a great transition
between what their lives as absolute rulers to what happens when it all wears off. It’s a great looking sequence, bolstered by a bad end coming to just the right people.

However, the main story is a real drag. Doctor Strange and the leader of the Empirikul fight for the entire issue, but — aside from some greenery attacking the bad guy — nothing stands out. I appreciate that Aaron is giving us a Doctor Strange who is so desperate to save magic that he’s draining it all away in the process, but it nonetheless comes across as lacking in energy. The art in particular feels erratic here, perhaps due to the shifts from having seven different inkers (Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, John Livesay, Wayne Faucher, Victor Olabaza and Jaime Mendoza) all transforming the pencils. There’s a panel or two that look really nice, like the top panel of the final page of the main story, with Doctor Strange’s right eye wide with terror, but too many other moments are muddled.

With the fighting seemingly at an end for now, hopefully the next issue will pick back up with something a bit more inviting. For now, I’m just glad we had the backup feature in “Doctor Strange” #6, because it’s the big winner for the readers.