Fantasy · thinking out loud

Conrad’s Fate and The Pinhoe Egg

Since this may be my last #MarchMagics related post, I’m going to smush the Conrad’s Fate and Pinhoe Egg questions here. I haven’t got to either books in my reread project, so I don’t remember them as well as I do the others. All I remember is: Conrad’s Fate is about a young Christopher, when Gabriel de Witt was still Chrestomanci. It had more bad parents/guardians and like The Lives of Christopher Chant,  it’s told from the point of view of a kid who doesn’t have access to the right information, or is being manipulated, by the adults around him. I don’t remember much else, having read it only once before. I can’t wait to reread it now!

The Conrad’s Fate question is: If you were to discover a family secret, would you rather it be: a noble title, money, or magic? Continue reading “Conrad’s Fate and The Pinhoe Egg”

DWJ ReRead · Fantasy

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones

The first time I read it my brain was in this fuzz, right after The Spellcoats, because I got the omnibus editions which are always a bad idea (for me). Not that I had any other choice back then. I rushed through the book, thought it was nice enough, and forgot all about it.

This is my second time experiencing The Crown of Dalemark, this time on audio, forcing me to take my time instead of rushing, and I am so in love with this whole quartet. WHY DID I NOT SEE THE BRILLIANCE OF THIS QUARTET BEFORE.

The book starts with Mitt, who’s in North Dalemark after the events in Drowned Ammet. He had been training to be a hearthman when he was tasked to murder Noreth Onesdaughter, who claimed to be the true Queen of Dalemark and wanted to reunite the lands. But then, it changes perspective to 200 years in the future, where a girl named Maewen meets an Undying who sends her back to the past (Mitt’s present) to take Noreth’s place, as the real Noreth had disappeared, and Maewen looked exactly like her. Continue reading “The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones”

DWJ ReRead · Fantasy

That time I read A Sudden Wild Magic

suddenwildmagicThere are multiverses, and this never seemed to matter very much, until a mage who is also very good at computers discovers that all – well, many – of the bad things that happened in our world, from the world wars to the great depression and even global warming, were a result of our world being toyed around with by wizards in another universe. Basically, the mages of Arth put us into situations where we would have to invent things or solve certain problems, after which they would steal the ideas for their own world.

Mark, the mage who discovers all this, went to Gladys, the wisest (and kookiest) witch he knew. And somehow this all led to a group of witches being sent to Arth and sabotage the evil otherworld mages with, among other things, kamikaze sex.

Er… maybe I should back up a bit.

This is a Diana Wynne Jones novel, yes, but this is not a children’s or YA fantasy.

After Changeover (the debut novel I probably won’t ever get to read), all of the published DWJs were for children/teens… until 1992, when A Sudden Wild Magic was published. Of course, even before I started this book, I thought of DWJ’s essay “Two Kinds of Writing?” in which she wrote about some unspoken assumptions about grown-up vs. children’s/teen fiction:

I found myself thinking as I wrote, “These poor adults are never going to understand this; I must explain it to them twice more and then remind them again later in different terms.” Now this is something I never have to think when I write for younger readers.

Starting on the first chapter, this was what I noticed the most – longer explanations about everything. I showed the first page to Kit, whose desk is next to mine at work, and she said it gave her a headache. I found A Sudden Wild Magic to be a bit weird, but still somehow, very Diana Wynne Jones. There’s the protagonist that doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of themselves, but everyone who knew them seem to admire, until they slowly become aware of their own inner strength. There’s the mention of bad, horrible parents, and in this book, on how that could go on to influence the kind of adult you became. There’s the wordplay and sly jokes and things that are fun buy may not make much sense in terms of the plot until you get to the end and all the pieces just fit together perfectly. I also thought that this particular novel reminded me a lot of Doctor Who, a feeling that I didn’t get with her other novels. And when I reread “Two Kinds of Writing?”, I saw that DWJ mentioned that “anyone who can follow Dr. Who can follow this in their sleep.”

So. This book has “sex, violence, politics, and the arcane skulduggery of science or magecraft”, which, as mentioned in her essay, were also apparent in DWJ’s children’s books, only not spelled out loud with 100% more explanation and more Doctor Who vibes. All of which spells “perfectly good read” to me, even if it won’t be in my top ten favourite DWJs. I dragged out my reading for as long as I could, gleefully savouring the feeling of reading a “brand new” Diana Wynne Jones, and finished it with the sober realisation that this was the last novel in my “reread” list that I had to read for the first time. I could always reread it, of course, and the whole point of my DWJ reread is that every read brings out something new, but still. Not counting Changeover, there are no new worlds from her for me to discover. That made me sad, and I kind of dread reaching Chaldea in my rereads, even though I know that after that, I could always start all over again.

(Happy Friday the 13th! Also, Zillah Green is probably in my list of top ten favourite DWJ characters. But I’ll write more on that one day, when I reread this book.)


DWJ REREAD no. 43 | A Sudden Wild Magic (1992)
previous read: “A Slice of Life”
next read: Yes, Dear

DWJ ReRead · Fantasy · Horror

Black Maria by Diana Wynne Jones

“And I won’t bother with breakfast, now Lavinia’s not here to bring it me in bed, dear,” was Aunt Maria’s final demand. Mum promised to bring her breakfast on a tray at eight-thirty sharp. It’s a very useful way of bullying people. – Black Maria, Diana Wynne Jones

blackmariaMy current copy of Black Maria is also my first copy, which is kind of rare when it comes to my DWJ books – but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever lent it out before. I received my copy from a classmate back in high school. Even now, I wonder about it – we weren’t close, and it wasn’t a special occasion, but one day she presented me with the book with a note saying she knew I loved Diana Wynne Jones. (As a result, she is one of the very few classmates I still remember now.) Anyway, the first time I read it, I thought – how gloomy. Diana Wynne Jones’ books aren’t exactly all cheery, and books like Homeward Bounders are pretty dark, but the gloominess of Black Maria struck me deeper, probably because it was a gloominess I knew all too well from my own childhood.

Another thing about Black Maria is that even though it was first published in 1991, it was really written before The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988). Since I’m reading in published order, I figure I may as well make a note of that here. In “A Whirlwind Tour of Australia” (published in Reflections), Diana Wynne Jones wrote that unlike some of her other books that were published long after they were written, Black Maria was suppressed by her. The reason? It was too frightening. To me, it isn’t a direct sort of horror – it is that utter gloominess, a claustrophobic sort of dread and resignation that comes with having to live with someone like Aunt Maria.

Mig Laker and her brother Chris had never met their father’s Aunt Maria, not until his sudden death. Then, after a series of phone calls from poor, frail Aunt Maria who reminds them that they were her only family left, their mother takes them to Aunt Maria’s for a holiday.

It didn’t take long for the Lakers to realise that Aunt Maria – who appears to be so cozy and cuddly – rules the village of Cranbury-on-Sea. She’s the queen bee, flanked by the twelve women who live down the street. All the men might as well have been zombies in suits. And all the other children seem like clones, even if they don’t resemble one another physically. On top of that, there’s a ghost haunting Chris’ room, and a cat that looks uncannily like one of Aunt Maria’s previous servants.

For most of the book, you get the feeling that something is off, and that it was more than Aunt Maria’s pretense at frailty to manipulate everyone around her, and more than the enforced gender stereotypes that made all the women tending to Aunt Maria and the men “away” all the time. Mig played along at first, letting her brother take the active role (as a boy, he was encouraged to be outdoors while Mig had to help her mother look after Aunt Maria). But as Chris’ attitude towards Aunt Maria gets more and more rude – providing for some of the best laughs in the book – and Aunt Maria gets more awful but in this unbearably SWEET way until she finally does something to get Chris out of her way for good. This forces Mig to take the lead, to uncover the truth about the people of Cranbury-on-Sea so that she could find a way to get her brother back.

The whole story is written from Mig’s point of view, so it is only from here onwards that we truly see beyond the tea parties and coziness to all of the darkness running underneath. I love that Mig’s adventure recalls some of my favourite fairy tale tropes but of course, this being a Diana Wynne Jones book, everything is flipped over and nothing is what it seems. I had remembered this book as a horror, and in my reread I realised that it’s not REALLY horror, but it’s got elements of horror. And it has SF elements but it’s more of a fantasy – reading it, I remembered DWJ’s mentions of not wanting to be boxed in by genre in Reflections. I guess it gets claustrophobic, just like the villagers of Cranbury-on-Sea being forced into specific male/female stereotypes. I really hate the whole “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” mentality, and loved the way it’s treated in this book. In the end a person is a person, and a good book is a good book, and Black Maria makes a great Halloween reread.

* published as Aunt Maria in the US. Sadly, both US and UK versions are out-of-print now.
**reread earlier in the year, but reread again for the RIP Challenge.

Other Reviews:
Iris, Books & More | Shelf LoveThings Mean A Lot | We Be ReadingThe World Crafter


DWJ RE-READ no.41 | Black Maria (1991)
previous read | Castle in the Air
next read | “A Slice of Life”

Comics · Fantasy · Science Fiction

Mari Reads the Marvel Universe, Part 2

In which I read the first volumes of the All-New All-Different Marvel Universe, or at least the ones that caught my attention! (Part one here.)


All-New X-Men Vol. 1: Ghosts of Cyclops by Dennis Hopeless & Mark Bagley

allnewxmen1While I enjoyed the first couple of volumes of Bendis’ run of All-New X-Men, I have to admit that I haven’t read the whole run, so I started this new volume with no idea as to what the characters are up to. Turned out that by this time Scott Summers has died (I knew this part, having read mentions of it elsewhere), and the young!Cyclops have decided to no longer use his powers (I didn’t know this). When a group of new mutants began to commit crimes under the name of the older Cyclops, going as far as to call themselves the Ghosts of Cyclops, Scott Summers may have to get back on the superhero wagon… this time, with young!Beast, young!Iceman, young!Angel, the new Wolverine, Kid Apocalypse and Oya.

Things I liked: The new group. The only one in this new group that I really liked is Laura (Wolverine), but I’m enjoying their group dynamics so far. I’m starting to like Kid Apocalypse and Oya a lot. And yes, I like reading about the young!X-men because they’re the X-Men I remember from my own childhood, rather than the people they ended up becoming. Oh, and Pickles! I love Pickles.

Things I disliked: the fact that I’m still in kind of a blur over what happened to the other X-men? Do I have to read Extraordinary X-Men to get to the rest of the story? Because I tried the first volume, and couldn’t make it past the second issue. Which is sad because I love Storm.

Will new/old fans like it? Well. I like it, and I’m a mix of both old (I read X-Men as a kid) and new (I’m not really up-to-date with the X-men/mutant stories). But it’s not my favourite, either. Continue reading “Mari Reads the Marvel Universe, Part 2”

DWJ ReRead · Fantasy

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

castleintheairAfter reading short stories for the last few DWJ posts, I was really glad to finally get to a novel again. And not just any novel – Castle in the Air is an Ingary book, the first of two companion novels to Howl’s Moving Castle. While I’m sure I’ve reread this book a few times before (unlike House of Many Ways, which I’ve only read once!) it’s been a long time since my last read, so I was definitely eager to start on it. And then I started, and… it was so much better than I remembered.

Despite being called the “sequel” to Howl’s Moving Castle, this book is really only just set in the same universe – DWJ never did direct sequels to any of her books. But this book isn’t just a story in the same world with some of the same characters; it starts in a place that is so unlike Ingary that it may make some wonder if it really is a companion novel. The setting is more Middle Eastern than European, more Arabian Nights than Cinderella. The main character is Abdullah, a carpet seller in a bazaar who would rather spend his days daydreaming of faraway castles and princesses. In typical fairy tale fashion, this soon comes true when Abdullah acquires a magic carpet that takes him to see a princess called Flower-in-the-Night.

At first Abdullah thinks that the meeting is just a pleasant dream, because it resembles his daydreams just a tad too much. As he begins to accept the truth, he also falls for the princess, right before she gets captured by a djinn, who has been going around stealing all the princesses of all the lands.

I really enjoyed the story the first time I read it – and, not knowing that it was supposed to be a sequel/companion, I was surprised and pleased when Sophie and Howl made their appearances in the story. I don’t think I remember anything more than that, and reading it again now, I find that the story’s connection to HMC is far from the most interesting thing about it, because:

(1) This is a DIANA WYNNE JONES story, in a FANTASY MIDDLE-EASTERN SETTING, what’s not to like? Many of the characters aren’t white, and in fact, have names that I hear every day, which is rare for kid!me to find in fantasy novels (or any juvenile fiction). And speaking of the names – while this story plays on tropes related to A Thousand and One Nights, it isn’t LIKE the other fiction I’ve read that uses these tropes. Recently I was reading Noel Langley’s The Tale of the Land of Green Ginger which was written as a sequel to Aladdin, and I absolutely loved it, but I couldn’t help but notice the weird names (like Rubdub Ben Thud and Tintac Ping Foo) and how it just meshed a bunch of different cultures and stereotypes into this one big exotic fantasy world. Like Arabian Nights. But Castle in the Air doesn’t do this, even though it’s set in an entirely different world. Abdullah’s family have normal names (Fatima, Hakim), and the only weirdly named person is Flower-in-the-Night, which isn’t explained, but at least acknowledged within the story. There’s a wide variety of personalities among the characters introduced, so I don’t get the feeling that any of them are stereotyped other than in the usual comic!villain/romantic!hero, fairy tale sort of way – and even those stereotypes tend to fall apart or get subverted, in typical DWJ fashion.

(2) I also enjoyed the language in this book. Oh, all the floral politeness! It’s so superb, and I love that it stems from an actual cultural thing, but exaggerated and twisted, of course. The way Abdullah barters insults with his enemies just gets increasingly hilarious as the story goes on. I read a few passages out loud to my dad, and despite not being the sort of person who got/liked fantasy, he ended up quoting those passages to his friends (sorry, dad’s friends) for a week.

(3) The character development. Abdullah starts the story as this lazy downtrodden person who would rather dream about things than go about achieving them, and then he goes on this journey in which he finds all sorts of situations that forces him to be clever and to prove himself and HE DOES EXACTLY THAT. I like him learning to challenge his own opinions on things – like his realisation that polygamy is unfair, or coming to respect strong-minded women when he had started out disliking them. And Flower-in-the-Night! She starts out as this innocent, incredibly naive person and then comes out of her shell, showing us (and Abdullah) that she is a force to be reckoned with, and I am perfectly sure that if Abdullah never arrived she would have rescued herself and all the other stolen princesses soon enough.

(4) Instalove – that turns out to be something else entirely. Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night fall in love far too quickly for me – after a few meetings, they were already thinking of getting married. BUT. At this point in time, these two knew next to nothing about each other, and I really like that as the story goes on, Abdullah begins to respect Flower-in-the-Night for her intellect and strong mind, and only this reaffirms to him that he is now in love, rather than merely infatuated with her beauty. As the story focuses on him rather than Flower-in-the-Night, we don’t get to see her POV, but even she realises that her eagerness to marry him in the beginning may have just stemmed from her not having enough experience of the world.

(5) The other characters. I love the carpet and the genie and the soldier and the other princesses and to avoid spoilers I’ll just say that the person that Howl becomes in this book is just so very funny, that I still love Calcifer, and that Lettie is just as awesome as Sophie. I said in my last HMC post that I wished for a story about Lettie. This isn’t quite it, because Lettie only plays a small part in this story, but I love that Lettie has a part at all! I wish we could have more Lettie Hatter.

(5a) This is just a random thing: I always thought that Howl’s castle flew rather than walked, like depicted in the Ghibli film. The HMC novel never did specify how the castle moved, so either could be correct. But Howl’s castle in this book definitely floated among the clouds – I had a whole aha! moment about it, but then realised that of course, the way that the castle moved could also be one of the changes made to it after [spoilery stuff].

Now, this may be close to perfection, but it isn’t perfect. DWJ’s books sometimes would have this… I wouldn’t say fatphobic, necessarily, but she certainly seem to have issues with fatness. There are two sisters in this book that are described as fat/plump and they are just annoying, all giggly and vapid, and even though they do get a sort of happy ending with someone who loves and appreciates their fatness, it bothered me. I read somewhere that this comes from her own feelings of insecurity about her appearance, and I suppose I may not think all that much of it by itself, but when I’m rereading a lot of DWJ in one go it suddenly becomes this one glaring, uncomfortable thing. I suppose I will just have to acknowledge and accept this, and remember that DWJ also gave me characters like Sophie Hatter and Lettie Hatter and Flower-in-the-Night – and all of the princesses in this story, who are all amazing in their own right.

The next book I’ll be rereading is Black Maria, which I’ve mostly forgot other than the fact that has a LOT of women in it, so I’ll be looking forward to see how my reading of it will change.

Other thoughts:
Bunbury in the StacksCalmgrove | Here There Be Books


DWJ RE-READ no. 40 | Castle in the Air (1990)
previous story: “nad and Dan adn Quaffy”
next story: Black Maria

Comics · Fantasy · Science Fiction

Mari reads the Marvel Universe, Part 1

Well… not quite the entire Marvel Universe. I did think about trying every single volume ones that came out from the All-New All-Different Marvel Universe, but I’m a lot busier at work than I ever was these days, and I barely have time to catch up with work-related reading. Luckily, checking out promising Vol 1s is also a part of work – so I decided to go with selected titles that caught my eye at our New Arrivals.


Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1: Reboot by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez

ironmanI like Tony Stark (even though he annoys me sometimes), but I haven’t checked out any of his solo titles until now. The reason I’m finally reading this? Bendis, of course. And also the fact that it’s a Volume One – I wonder why a simple renumbering made me more apt to pick up a title. Anyway, in the post-Secret Wars world, Tony (1) is no longer as rich as he used to be (but is still pretty rich), (2) makes a new Iron Man suit, and (3) has a new love interest (and I really like her). There are also other spoilery twists that I won’t share, of course. Also in this volume: Doctor Doom! Doctor Strange! Madame Masque! Mary Jane!

Things I liked: Friday, Tony’s A.I. I really do hope that Friday in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be at least half as snarky as the one in this comic. And I know the fact that the Tony Stark in this run is more RDJ-like than usual, but I don’t really mind that one bit (in fact, I love it), because RDJ was the reason why I started to give his character a chance in the first place.

Things I disliked: Dr. Doom. Not one of my fave villains, and although the depiction of the new him is refreshing, I know it can’t last very long.

Will new/old readers like this? I think this is a good volume for newbies to start with, and a fun one for older readers, unless they hate the RDJ-fication of Iron Man’s character, of course.


Uncanny Avengers Vol. 1: Lost Future by Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman

uncannyavengersThis is a title I didn’t think I’d pick up at all… but rather enjoyed, anyway. Old man Steve Rogers assembles a new team of superheroes, consisting of humans, mutants and inhumans! The Avengers Unity Squad’s agenda is to promote peace between the races, but this doesn’t really work out all that well – there’s some tension between the mutant and inhuman members, and in the beginning a prominent member decides to leave the team on account of the fact that Steve Rogers allowed Deadpool in.

Things I liked: the exploration of the mutants/inhuman tensions, how each group are treated differently by humans, and the consequences of Black Bolt terrigen bombs. The fact that many of these characters are outsiders or don’t quite belong elsewhere, which of course was why I loved Uncanny X-Men, the first Marvel series I ever followed as a kid. Rogue and Human Torch sniping at each other. Quicksilver being Quicksilver. Deadpool!! I enjoy the Deadpool in this run, although I don’t know how long he could last as a non-killing member of Avenger.

Things I disliked: not quite a dislike, but the plot points could be convoluted for new readers, who wouldn’t know about the terrigen bombs or the disease infecting the mutants because of it. Oh, and there’s a storyline involving Red Skull and Xavier that I didn’t like.

Will new/old readers like this? I think yes, if you’re reading for the characters. Newbies would have to look up some stuff on their own, or read previous comics, which I suppose can be a turn-off. Older fans of X-Men might enjoy this more than fans Avengers, maybe.


The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1: Worldwide by Dan Slott & Giuseppe Camuncoli

spiderman1Parker Industries is doing well (much better than Stark Industries, one might say) and Peter Parker is traveling all over with his “bodyguard” Spider-Man in tow. Lots of meh villains, including a group that calls themselves the Zodiac, and some awesome heroes show up. I really, really, really was hoping to fall in love with this series, but judging from this volume, it isn’t going to happen.

Things I liked: Peter’s tribute to the (now-defunct) Fantastic Four. Peter’s friendship with Johnny Storm. The fact that Peter finally gets to be the genius he’s always been.

Things I disliked: The villains and the running plotlines in this volume just failed to interest me.

Will new/old readers like this? The current Peter/Spider-Man may confuse newbies, especially if they’re only familiar with the film adaptations – there’s a lot of catching up to do. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t like it! As for older readers, maaaaybe fans of early Iron Man would enjoy this more than fans of early Spider-Man?


All-New All-Different Avengers Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven by Mark Waid and Adam Kubert

avengers1Mark Waid! Kamala Khan! Sam Alexander! Miles Morales! This is a must-read for me, definitely. In fact, this is one of the two titles I’m currently subscribed to (I really can’t afford to subscribe to more than two titles, although sometimes I cave and buy random issues). In the post-Secret Wars world, there hasn’t been a functioning Avengers team (somehow nobody counted the Unity Squad?), until an alien threat surfaces, and a group of heroes had to work together to counter it. The new team: Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor (Jane Foster), Vision, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Miles Morales (Spider-Man). With three new super-young members, I wonder if the ex-Young Avengers are a little bitter. As far as this volume goes, I was a little indifferent to the adult members of the team (despite liking their characters, and solo comics), and found that it was the younger members that really drove the story.

Also, now that Tony had to sell off the Stark Tower, and can’t fund the team the way he used to, being an Avenger doesn’t have the same perks as before.

Things I liked: All the Nova/Ms. Marvel/Spider-Man bits, definitely. And the bits where they’re limited by their low budget. And Captain America/Thor revelations.

Things I disliked: I am obviously very, very biased, but I can’t think of anything.

Will new/old fans like this? It could go either way. Sometimes this title may seem to be more like a Ms. Marvel or Nova comic with a supporting cast of heroes than an Avengers comic, which I have absolutely zero complaints about, but I’m sure fans of the other heroes will be dissatisfied about. BUT I’ve a feeling that Waid will focus more on the other characters in due time, so it might be worth it to continue reading.


Guardians of the Galaxy: New Order Vol. 1: Emperor Quill by Brian Michael Bendis & Valerio Schiti

guardians1In this series, we find that Peter Quill is no longer with the Guardians, having taken on his new role as the emperor of the Spartax. Rocket Raccoon is the new leader (yay!) with Groot and Drax, plus Kitty Pryde (the new Star Lord!), Ben Grimm (The Thing), and Flash Thompson (Venom). Now, I LOVE Kitty Pryde – she was my absolute favourite X-Men – and everyone knows I adore Rocket, and I even liked the Peter Quill/Kitty Pryde romance awhile back, but. Somehow, this run doesn’t seem to entertain me as much as I thought it would.

Things I liked: Kitty Pryde. She is maybe even more awesome when in space, as much as she claims to hate space.

Things I disliked: I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found it hard to follow all plotlines – partly due to the fact that I haven’t read Guardians before, I’m sure, but also because I kept getting distracted, and despite liking all these people, this title doesn’t seem to make me care all that much about what happens to them.

Will new/old fans like this? Maybe not. Newbies may want to read older Guardians titles first, and older fans may prefer the older runs anyway.


 

Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird by Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo

doctorstrange1I have to confess that Doctor Strange is one of the characters that I hardly ever read before this. I’ve never read his solo titles, and he so very rarely makes an appearance in the comics I do read, although he’s been appearing more often recently (thanks, upcoming movie?). So I didn’t have any idea what pre-Secret Wars Doc Strange was like. I did like him in the Secret Wars comics, and I liked what I’ve seen of Chris Bachalo’s art for this series, which were my main reasons for trying it. I’m so glad I did! This title starts with a (slightly confusing) bang: Stephen Strange finding himself fighting monsters while naked, and without any weapons or spell books. It’s okay, though, because he’s confused about the whole thing himself – and when he finally gets clued in as to why, we learn that everything mystical in the multiverse might be in great danger.

Things I liked: I have to say that I REALLY like Stephen Strange in this run. And the fact that the new character introduced is a librarian. And the art, oh so gorgeous in some parts. The majesticness of Doctor Strange’s cape. The fact that the main plot hinges on the price of magic, too. The sheer weirdness of his sanctum sanctorum. (WHY haven’t I read any Doctor Strange before this, again?)

Things I disliked: Can’t think of anything!

Will new/old fans like this? The writing catches you up without being clogged up with backstory, so it’s probably the perfect place to start reading Doctor Strange.