Donny Cates Gambles & Wins Again With DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION

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Hot-shot writer Donny Cates teams up with Nick Spencer and Rod Reis for Doctor Strange: Damnation #1. Cates has been taking gambles with characters and stories that have been paying off big time.

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Doctor Strange: Damnation offers a fresh and unique story out of one of Secret Empire’s lingering carcasses. When Vegas was wiped out, being the city of sin, it became Mephisto’s. When Doctor Strange resurrects the entire city, Mephisto’s Hotel Inferno came with it.

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Strange and Mephisto find their way into a deadly wager of course, with the Sorcerer Supreme’s very soul on the line. Bats seeks out Wong for help, the two begin to assemble Stephen’s backup as he’s in over his head.

This is a wonderfully crafted and laid out premise. Mephisto takes on a Beetlejuice-like persona as he becomes a torn in Stephen Strange’s side.

Writers Donny Cates and Nick Spencer show they aren’t afraid to touch recent Marvel continuity with this directly spinning out of the events of Secret Empire. They even throw shade at Carol Danvers’ Civil War II actions.

Cates is undoubtedly one of the hottest writers in comics right now, and deservedly so. He’s being bold and taking chances that have so far paid off big time. Pairing Cates with Spencer, who’s been quiet following the controversial-but-solid Secret Empire, is a wise choice.

This story could allow Cates to branch out and be bolder with new characters. Having Spencer there along with him as a sort of mentor is a great learning experience.

Cates is poised to be Marvel’s next darling; there’s a lot he could learn from Spencer while he’s still in his first year with the publisher. Spencer has seen plenty of good and bad, his advice is absolutely crucial in Donny’s development and rise.

The development of Bats and Wong as a sidekick duo is extremely promising. Cates has tapped into something special in his Doctor Strange run and that continues here. It’s satisfying to see the two beloved allies sharing panels.

Rod Reis makes this insane script come to live with major flair. He takes full advantage of the world’s colliding in this tale.

Bushy eyebrows and rosy cheeks highlight unforgettable art. The dark world of sinister sorcery looks wonderful through the lens of an abstract Normal Rockwell painting. The layouts are wonderfully messy. These pages manage to be dark and full of horror images, but never without a wink and a grin.

Doctor Strange: Damnation gets off to a highly entertaining start. Cates, Spencer, and Reis exceed expectations and see their gambles turn to profit immediately.

Brandon J. Griffin - Comic Book Critic
New Jersey scum who worships comic books like religious literature. Yell at me on Twitter @griffunk