15th Jul2020

‘Strange Academy #2’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Skottie Young | Art by Humberto Ramos | Published by Marvel Comics

This is one of those books that I have picked up purely due to word of mouth. Issue 1 passed me by, but I started to hear good things, had a look at the first issue, loved it, and here I am reviewing issue 2. The premise for the book is very simple. Doctor Strange has decided, after years of doing pretty much the exact opposite (but let’s not split hairs) to open his own Hogwarts. He, however, calls it Strange Academy. So scoop up a handful of Marvel’s magically inclined characters as teachers, throw in a selection of students both good and bad, and see what happens. I think you can tell by the fact its written by Skottie Young and drawn by Humberto Ramos that realism and seriousness are going to be in relatively short supply. Gags and fun, though, not so much.

We start as the students wake up to the first day at school. As with all new team books, keeping a head count of all the characters can be tricky, so just for reference here’s a couple of the more noticeable one. Most notable, I guess, is Doyle Dormammu, the illegitimate son of The Dread Dormammu. He’s certainly a ringer for his old man. Iric and Alvi are two Asgardian twins, Guslaug is a young female Frost Giant, Toth is half Crystal Warrior (anyone else remember Crystar?) and Zoe Laveau is a descendant of Marie Laveau, a voodoo priestess who trained Doctor Voodoo and bumped heads with Doc Strange. That’s not even all of them, but all an eclectic bunch, and not all will probably stay the course by the look of some of those textbooks.

‘History of Mystical Objects’ from The Ancient One looks a pretty cool class, as does ‘Introduction to Zombies’ by Doctor Voodoo, though ‘The Elements of Chaos Magic’ taught by Scarlet Witch is probably my favourite. WAS my favourite. ‘Inferno 101’ taught by Magik (Illyana Rasputina from the X-Men of course) and Daimon Hellstrom gets top place. As Iric learns, not a class to mess about in, especially with a teacher that can open portals to some pretty nasty places. Mind you, Biology with Man-Thing is pretty good as well. I think we all would have gone to this school, right? Although the overall focus in this issue is on the students, showing them developing and bonding, there is a nice little scene with the teachers discussing how their lessons went. Also a little indication that the huge amount of magic use in play there may have future repercussions.

And that’s that. If you wanted a super-villain fight, or guest stars (apart from the teachers of course) then you would have been disappointed. Not really that sort of book. There’s obviously similarities with the Avengers Academy book from a few years back, even the Initiative book, but superheroics is replaced by magic, and a side order of humour. This was literally a ‘first day at school’ story, and that’s ok. It was funny, very well written and Ramos excelled himself on the visuals, reigning in some of his tendency to over exaggerate physique and character. Here, he got it just right. Young’s writing was also less slapstick than I was expecting, finding the humour in the story and characters rather than starting with the funny stuff and building a story around that. That rarely works. This was, ultimately, a ‘glue’ issue, one to continue the world building started last issue, and to then tie together with ongoing storylines cropping up soon.

Not as strong as Issue 1, but then those second issues rarely are, but still a lot of fun and a feeling that endless possibilities await. Magic, cool cameos, and sneaky funny humour look like being a great combination.

**** 4/5


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