Dr. Strange’s life is in a state of disrepair. The Empirikul has stripped the Earth of its magic and done major damage to Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, so it might not be the best time for Stephen Strange’s ex-wife to reenter his life. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. Clea has been noticeably absent from the Marvel Universe in the last few years, but she finally makes her return in this week’s Dr. Strange Annual #1, and she has an exceptional creative team telling her story. Kathryn Immonen has long been one of Marvel’s most consistently strong but underutilized writers, and these preview pages of next week’s one-shot highlight her sharp dialogue skills as Wong and Stephen deal with the contractor repairing their home. Despite Dr. Strange’s bleak current circumstances, Immonen still finds a way to incorporate humor in her script, which provides an easy entryway into a story that will surely get more dramatic as the former spouses reconnect.
Artist Leonardo Romero is quickly becoming a rising star at Marvel thanks to the textured detail, rich characterization, and smooth movement in his work, and after drawing half of this month’s Dr. Strange #11, he gets to tackle a full story in next week’s Annual. Clea’s entrance is a great example of Romero’s talent for emotional storytelling, and Clea and Strange’s facial expressions and body language give the reader a clear idea of their tenuous personal dynamic. Romero’s art looks fantastic when paired with Jordie Bellaire’s highly specific coloring, and a quick moment like the flash-forward of the contractor five years in the future is given extra impact thanks to small coloring details like the deep green rug and bright red leather chair that set it apart from the grimy brown of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Romero and Bellaire will be reuniting for this December’s Hawkeye ongoing starring Kate Bishop, but readers that want an advance look at this art team’s excellence can check out their work on Dr. Strange this month.