DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2 by Donny Cates, Nick Spencer, and Szymon Kudranski
DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2 provides readers with a grim and gritty look at Marvel's mystical universe, and it does so with a compelling plot and interesting characterization. While none of its elements are perfect, this is a perfectly enjoyable read for fans.
90 %
Far from Damnation
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Dr. Strange has seen a massive rise in popularity after the successful release of the 2016 film. Many fans have fallen in love with the character’s unique focus and with good reason. The mysticism of the Marvel Universe is at the same time horrifying and childishly bombastic in its scope. With so many paths to tread, writers have the opportunity to take the good doctor to new heights. Or, as we see in DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2, new depths. As Hotel Inferno bursts into the remade Las Vegas, it is up to Dr. Strange and Marvel’s top monster hunters to send the demons back to hell.

THE SENTRY is Returning to Marvel!

After his fellow heroes fall to Mephisto’s trickery, Dr. Strange has become a prisoner within Inferno. Tortured daily and unable to defend himself, the doctor needs the help of his friends. Luckily, Wong and a ghost dog named Bats have gathered together Marvel Universe’s occult experts to save him. With the likes of Moon Knight and Elsa Bloodstone by his side, Wong leads this makeshift army into corrupted Las Vegas. Can this team learn to work together before Mephisto’s Ghost Riders put an end to their revolution?

Into the Fires

Doctor Strange Damnation #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Team books are hard. With a large cast of characters, readers tend to have a hard time differentiating between them or forming a connection. DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2 definitely has its issues in this department. Writers Donny Cates and Nick Spencer lose out on some characterization simply by bringing together such a big team. They have to bank on readers picking up on little details and subtle cues in the dialogue. Sometimes, though, this subtlety falls a bit flat. This is especially true for a speechless character like Man-Thing, who I constantly forgot was even present.

However, these co-writers mostly managed to create a team that I would easily read again. While small instances could use some work, like the final grand battle in Vegas, the overall characterization succeeds on every level. The character introductions feel varied and manage to highlight these great personalities. Also, the meeting within Dr. Strange’s destroyed house works exceedingly well. The atmosphere in this room, filled with nine heroes who barely like each other, feels intense. I have loved Cates and Spencers’ work in the past, and the deft focus on the individual teammates highlights some of their best work.

Doctor Strange: The Critic Awakens

The Inferno Awaits

Doctor Strange Damnation #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The overall plot of DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2 follows a relatively unremarkable through-line. Wong travels around the country gathering allies; they share some cutting words; then they are suddenly thrust into the heart of a war. However, what Cates and Spencer manage to do with this sequence is surprisingly remarkable. The plot clips along at a rather even pace with very few slow moments. While the mansion scene could do with a couple pages fewer, the overall story feels cohesive and strong.

The true strength of the narrative, though, comes at the end. The mansion scene manages to show that while these heroes have successes under their belt, they can’t necessarily work as a team. So when they arrive in Vegas and everything immediately falls apart, it makes complete sense. No one expected an immediate victory for these heroes. However, I didn’t expect abject failure. I thought they’d make it into Hotel Inferno and continue their journey in future issues. However, Cates and Spencer manage to paint a scenario where our heroes immediately fail. This works perfectly in this story that aims for a dark and moody atmosphere.

Kudranski on Fire

Doctor Strange Damnation #2
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Szymon Kudranski helms the entire artistic field in DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2. For the most part, I really enjoy his style. The focus on total realism is somewhat refreshing in a landscape peppered with massive exaggeration. Especially for this story, his style truly informs the atmosphere. The flames in Las Vegas come across immediately as something to fear, and Kudranski’s drawings of the Ghost Riders are terrifying. It is his color work, though, that truly defines my experience. Kudranski has such an in-depth understanding of how colors define tone. The blues in the early pages give off a somber tone that doesn’t breach the warm reds and oranges of the later battle.


My one issue in his art, though, is the anatomy. Kudranski, most often, is spot on with his characters. However, with an incredibly realistic style, sometimes poses can look stiff, and as a result, goofy. In the epic scene where our heroes first arrive in Vegas, Moon Knight is curled up in a pose that just looks uncomfortable. This isn’t a failure on Kudranski’s part, as much as an oversight. With a style like his, he has to be incredibly careful about every line. Otherwise, a single mistake becomes very noticeable. Luckily, this problem isn’t widespread, but when it does show up, it can be very jarring.


DOCTOR STRANGE DAMNATION #2’s creative team should be very proud of this story. The plot clips along at a nice pace, but only rarely sacrifices the characterization. This comic relies on storytelling cliches while simultaneously subverting them. A story where the hero almost immediately fails inspires intrigue. Since we know they will succeed eventually, this story asks what lengths they will go to in the future to do so. With some incredible art and a masterfully dark atmosphere, fans of grittier stories should really pick this one up.


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