He's been evil, creative, cutting edge, patient, unflappable, and even sometimes nice, but now Mark Waid is strange. Unfortunately, this story isn't so strange. Stephen Strange -- who even has problems not referring to himself as "Doctor Strange" -- seemed to be only slightly more than a plot device in this issue. Sure, he makes the big save, but it comes about in a most un-Doctor Strange-like way. After all, Waid is delivering a story about a demonic baseball game.
Emma Rios comes over to this story with her boss from BOOM! -- she drew "Hexed" over there, it's worth looking into. Seemingly well-suited to this story from her work there, Rios delivers some visually unsettling demons, strong magical effects, and consistent characterization. Her Stephen Strange just doesn't sit right with me, though, but I cannot pinpoint why. It might be the hair, I think.
The whole story, honestly, doesn't sit right. While I appreciate what Waid is trying to do here, the story just seems hokey. At no point in this story did I think that Stephen Strange was truly threatened. To that end, the character seemed almost more cocky than he has in the past -- which is saying quite a bit about Stephen Strange.
I know Marvel has been holding back on getting a Doctor (or not so Doctor) Strange story out. They've been seeking the right combination of creator, story, and timing. I'd like to see some of the other pitches, as I find it hard to believe that this is the best combination of those factors. Waid and Rios have the talent and the ability to deliver a great Strange story. This issue is not that great Stephen Strange story. Maybe in the next few issues they'll swing for the fences. The former doctor could use some home run magic.