Writer Jed Mackay continues to weave his mystery with the Death of Doctor Strange #4. Joined on pencils by Lee Garbett, featuring colors by Antonio Fabela and letters by Cory Petit, this issue answers some questions but leaves readers with a couple of new ones before we get to the finale.
Whenever a major character dies, there is usually an event to signify its importance to the greater Marvel universe. This five-part mini-series captures a lot of what makes these books work. We have some underused characters, like Clea and Baron Mordo, and they are able to take center stage and show off how great they can be when written well. These characters need to come together to solve the mystery or figure out how someone died. It’s a bit formulaic, but it usually ends with a new status quo for a while and some much-needed spotlight on other characters.
Mackay has been on a hot streak at Marvel, making a book like Black Cat a must-read. As we saw in the last issue, there was a confrontation with Baron Mordo. The conflict is resolved intelligently. However, Mackay doesn’t make things so obvious that the usual suspect is the killer; we have to work to find answers. The supporting cast is also written superbly. From Wong to Clea, even to Bats, every character serves a purpose and plays a part in this story.
The pencils by Garbett work well with this issue. Garbett’s work is detailed but not overly so. As you can see in the image above, everything looks outstanding, and our eyes are drawn to what Garbett wants us to see. Garbett uses close-up panels that focus on character faces to effectively show readers the facial expressions of the major players in the issue. As Strange reveals how he was killed, Garbett has a tremendous and trippy panel layout that takes us through all the characters and why they are not suspects. These two pages allow Garbett to cover multiple threads in a short period while also making this a joy to view visually.
Just as crucial as the pencils laid down by Garbett are the colors by Fabela. For such a dark book, Fabela doesn’t use that dark of a color palette. Much of the book takes place in the Sanctum Santorum, and Fabela uses lighter gold colors that illuminate the page. As the story moves to Antarctica, colder blues signify the change in tone of the story. Fabela also does a fantastic job with the pages that focus on Strange revealing the killer. Vibrant pinks and greens draw your eye as you read the dialogue on the page.
The lettering by Petit is standard for the most part, but his best work is done on the pages that signify a chapter change. The lettering is stylized and reads like an old book from the library. These chapter changes are crucial to the story, and Petit does a phenomenal job on them.
The Death of Dr. Strange #4 is a fun read that builds on previous issues. As we inch closer to the conclusion, questions remain about how the perpetrator will be dealt with, but never doubt Dr. Strange. Death of Dr. Strange #4 is out now at a comic shop near you!