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​​​​​​​Doctor Strange: The Oath (Image, 2006; #1-5)

This is my favorite Doctor Strange story.

Wong brings Doctor Strange—dying from a gunshot wound—to Night Nurse for treatment.  Strange’s assailant sought something he had brought back from another realm: a cure for cancer.  A cure for Wong’s cancer, to be specific.  And Steven’s not willing to sit by while his friend dies.  So he and Wong and Night Nurse set out to retrieve the cure.

Part of what makes The Oath as strong as it is is that Vaughan builds everything around personal stakes.  Strange would move mountains for Wong.  Elements from his life as a surgeon come back to bite him.  Night Nurse even follows Strange around because she can’t leave her patient unattended.  These moments also allow for a clean, efficient visitation of Strange’s origins without turning into an origin story.

Much of its charm also comes from Marcos Martin and Javier Rodriguez’s art.  Martin’s pencils give the book a look that evokes classic, Kirby-era Doctor Strange while feeling clean and modern.  Rodriguez’s art leans into bright, bold colors.  Both do a great job with the big, over-the-top magical moments that a Doctor Strange story thrives on.

This is the desert island Doctor Strange book.  Read it, and you’ll get who the character is, what he’s about, and why he’s cool.  Ask anyone what Doctor Strange titles to read, and this will almost assuredly be on their list.  It’s not just my favorite of the character’s comics, but it’s one of my favorite comics, period.

Collected in

  • Doctor Strange: The Oath (#1-6)

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan | Artist: Marcos Martin | Inker: Alvaro Lopez (1) | Colorist: Javier Rodriguez | Letterer: Willie Schubert | Assistant Editors: Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson | Editor: Tom Brevoort

​​​​​​​The Demon: Hell’s Hitman (DC Comics, 1990; #46-49)

​​​​​​​Nowhere Men: Fates Worse Than Death (Image, 2012; #1-6)