Doctor Strange (2015) No. 4 The Art of Puking Without Puking
The Ancient One.
Seems like a typical Asian elder until you notice the unusually glowing eyes.
Stephen during his apprenticeship looking very scruffy.
A minor detail but why are those hands still bandaged? Wasn't Stephen's move to the Himalayas a desperate act of last resort? Granted, his hands would not have lost the shakes but the wounds should have healed a long time ago and the bandages removed.
Ok so this whole flashback is very simple: the Ancient One orders Stephen Strange to punch him and Strange reluctantly does so and painfully damages his hand in the process since the Ancient One is protected by some kind of invisible shield. The lesson, and I quote: "The harder you punch the more it hurts you."
The reason for this flashback is easy to deduce considering the past issues. There is focus on the price of being a magician in general and the Sorcerer Supreme in particular. It has been an "undercurrent" topic in the issues before this, but in this issue this lesson of balance and a price to be paid for magic is given stronger focus.
As a sort of acknowledgement to the title of this story the punch hurts Stephen's hand but the spells he has been casting as a sorcerous student makes him barf uncontrollably. That less-than-elegant scene is to the right of the panel below while the rest of the panel treats us to a view of the remote Himalayan outpost where they teach the mystic arts.
Read a story with the word 'puking' repeated twice in the title and be prepared to see a lot of it.
When i first saw this panel I thought Stephen was using a public rest room somewhere in the city but it turns out that this is the rest room of the Bar With No Doors. I'm surprised to see it looking so squalid since they supposedly use magic to clean it up.
The Bar With No Doors evidently has some mixers that cannot be found in other bars.
The last time we were here, there were very few patrons but this time the place is packed.
And the reason for that is because Stephen called a meeting. He is about to inform everybody that something is awry. It's a fairly wordy speech but the gist is in the panel below.
Last issue I broached the question of how one Sorcerer Supreme could handle the Empirikul who have already defeated so many such sorcerers. What Stephen is doing now is the logical answer: call in every magician in your dimension for aid. The Asgardian Enchantrass should be here. And Nightmare and Dormammu should be here too. After all, all magic is being attacked. Well, maybe not Dormammu since he inhabits a separate dimension.
Here are some early responses.
I really love Count Kaoz's reaction. It has that delightful mix of hedonism and bravery - and it sounds stereotypically Russian. But really, if it's the end of the world I agree with shouting 'Bring it on!' while swigging a half liter of beer.
The one with the chest tat and shades is Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan. To readers of the old Defenders issues he would be a familiar figure.
Hahahahaha! Chondu and Monako's repartee lightens the mood a bit.
Here's Velma in her capacity as Sanctum Sanctorum librarian.
So in the midst of all this, the Doctor collapses and Wong tends to him by feeding him. And Doctor Strange is eating some pretty disgusting fare.
Remember the second issue when Wong was cooking something that looked like a monster?
Well here it is all explained.
Quite the price for being the Sorcerer Supreme and I suspect this is just one of the many sacrifices Stephen Strange has to live with in exchange for such vast power.
To date, this is the most formidable door I've yet seen in the Sanctum. It looks like a bank vault.
Wow. It's a passageway to the Indian Ocean. And by 'to' I mean 'to the bottom'. Wow.
A little backgrounder. The magical book called the Grimoire of Watoomb which we saw in the first issue was suddenly rendered nonmagical. Since the source of power of the Grimoire lay in the Temple of Watoomb Stephen decides to go and visit. The Temple is underwater and here is Stephen as he approaches the temple.
Stephen notes that all magical guards and wards are deactivated and then, suddenly, we have the first contact between the Empirikul and Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange emerges victorious (I'm sure the Empirikul will be shocked). Additionally, Doctor Strange realizes that contrary to his original belief, he and the other magicians are not being attacked by an extremely powerful sorcerer, they are being assailed by machines.