In Review: Doctor Strange – Under the Knife (Marvel Select Panini Edition)

By Mark Waid & Kev Walker
Colourists: Java Tartaglia & Antonio Fabela (#4)
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit (#1 – 3 & #5) & Clayton Cowles (#4)
Cover: InHyuk Lee
Marvel Select Panini Edition Editor: Ed Hammond

The Collection: A new chapter begins for Doctor Stephen Strange thanks to the miraculous regeneration of his damaged hands. With his nimble fingers once more able to perform the most delicate surgical procedures, the world-famous surgeon can now return to the operating theatre. But what does this mean for his life as a master of the mystic arts? Can he be both a neurosurgeon and the Sorcerer Supreme? All magic comes at a cost, and it seems that this is one boon the good doctor will be paying for in the most deadly way! Reprints Doctor Strange – Surgeon Supreme #1 – 6 (2019)

The Review: Doctor Strange is one of the core characters of the Marvel Universe, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in the 1960s, a character who has enjoyed some stunning runs of great stories across the years, not least of them thanks to Ditko, but stories drawn by Marshall Rogers and Michael Golden, written by writers such as Roger Stern, JM DeMatteis and others, reviewed here on IndiePulse, are those that stick in my memory in particular.

Mark Waid and Kev Walker continue a fine tradition of intriguing stories about the Sorcerer Supreme, in this story that kicked off Marvel’s Surgeon Supreme title back in 2019, first collected by the publisher themselves the following year, and now by Panini UK, in a smashing newsstand edition priced at £9.99.

Published this month, you should definitely read this before The Death of Doctor Strange by Jed McKay and Lee Garbett, which Panini has also released as a collection – the character’s more recent adventure.

For those of you who enjoy a good US medical drama – for me, House and The Good Doctor recent favourites thanks to streaming services – it’s little wonder Waid ran with the setting, afforded the opportunity to explore Stephen Strange as a capable surgeon, as well as master of the mystical arts. His ability to operate finally restored, Under the Knife explores his attempts to balance a daytime role at a busy hospital with defending the Earth from dark forces, no easy task when those forces are using his own weapons against him.

The origin of Doctor Strange, retold by Mark Waid and Kev Walker

Pitted against a mysterious enemy, Waid and Walker deftly deliver an enjoyable tale that proved thoroughly accessible, supported by a useful introduction from Panini editor Ed Hammond, and a great gallery of variant and regular covers from the original series.

Alongside the story itself, Strange pushed to his limits battling some unexpectedly magically weaponised supervillains, Waid also rounds out the character’s day job, always touched by the powers he controls, for example, “seeing” illness and ailments in a very unique way as he takes his hospital round. His relationships with hospital staff are equally of note, not least of that with the cagey Anthony Ludgate, aka Doctor Druid, previously believed dead!

Unlike some Marvel writers, Waid never forgets the golden rule, that every issue is a first issue for somebody; a great help to those who might be dipping back into the character thanks to his latest big screen outing. Far too often, many modern Marvel stories rely too heavily on their readership knowing the history of the character and supporting cast, and it’s little wonder sales have tumbled as a result. Waid doesn’t make that mistake, and Under the Knife is all the better for that, providing a smashing “jumping on point” for anyone to enjoy new Doctor Strange adventures.

With inspired, fantastical art from 2000AD and Avengers veteran Kev Walker complementing a great story, this is definitely a collection to pick up. Recommended.

John Freeman

• Marvel Select: Doctor Strange – Under The Knife, published by Panini UK, by Mark Waid and Kev Walker, is available from all good newsagents now, and from Panini direct – or buy it here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• Doctor Strange merchandise and more from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• Doctor Strange graphic novels from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Buy The Death of Doctor Strange by Jed McKay and Lee Garnett from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Doctor Stephen Strange is the world’s greatest neurosurgeon and Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. He defends our planet from the supernatural and interdimensional threats no other hero is equipped to handle. But what would happen if he unexpectedly died? Who would protect Earth and keep the mystical evils at bay?

And most importantly… who killed Stephen Strange?!

Collecting: Death of Doctor Strange (2021) #1-5

Read Tim Robin’s review of Doctor Strange (2016)

Read Tim Robins review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (12A, 2022)

About the Creators

New York Times best-selling author Mark Waid has worked for every major company in the comics industry in a nearly three-decade-long career, writing thousands of issues, including runs of Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Ka-zar, and Fantastic Four. His other works of note include his collaboration with painter Alex Ross on Kingdom Come, which earned an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series. Waid enjoyed his greatest outpouring of critical acclaim with the Eisner Award-winning Daredevil – including a collaboration with frequent artistic partner Chris Samnee. He later took on such diverse pop-cultural icons as Princess Leia and Archie, and ushered in a new era of greatness for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in All-New, All-Different Avengers. His Marvel work continued with Avengers, Black Widow, Captain America, Champions and Doctor Strange.

Check out books by Mark Waid on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Unlettered art from Under the Knife by Kev Walker, coloured by Java Tartaglia

Artist Kev Walker cut his teeth on the venerable British comics magazine 2000AD, eventually moving on to the publisher’s flagship character Judge Dredd and other popular series. After illustrating Annihilation: Nova, he teamed with writer Fred Van Lente on Marvel Zombies 3 and its follow-up, Marvel Zombies 4. He also drew writer Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts, before joining Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum in pitting Marvel’s youngest heroes against each other in the kill-or-be-killed Avengers Arena. “Hopeless” and Walker reunited for the follow-up Avengers Undercover, while the artist has worked on numerous other Avengers titles.

Kev doesn’t have an official web presence, but there is a private Facebook group, set up by his agent, where you can find out more about upcoming signings etc

Check out books by Kev Walker on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

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