The magic corner of the Marvel Universe is not something that has been explored that much outside the Doctor Strange comic books. That’s a lot of potential wasted with how the magic corner of the Marvel Universe could be as important as the things going on with the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men. Now it looks as though Marvel is ready to dedicate a little more time to the magic corner with their latest comic book: Strange Academy. This new series sees Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Brother Voodoo and other known magic users creating Marvel’s version of Hogwarts in New Orleans. With a whole new cast of young magic users who can be part of Marvel’s next generation of heroes there is a lot potential in Strange Academy. Let’s see if that potential starts to be tapped into with Strange Academy #1.
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: A young girl named Emily Bright writes a letter to Doctor Strange that talks about how she has been a magic user since she was a baby. Emily’s parents do their best to keep it a secret but it didn’t keep her from using her powers in emergency situations like reviving her dog when she got run over by a car. One day Emily’s magic powers accidentally created a tree monster that attacked her. Zelma Stanton (a ally of Doctor Strange) appears and destroys the tree monster with a magic attack.
Later, Zelma speaks with Emily’s parents about enrolling her in a magic school. Emily’s parents are reluctant but Zelma says with the school’s help Emily can learn to control her powers and find out what she is capable of.
A few weeks later Zelma arrives to take Emily to the magic school. Emily’s parents hug Emily and tell Zelma to take care of their daughter.
When Zelma opens the door to the outside Emily goes through it. Zelma closes the door once they both go out the door. Emily is surprised that they are in a void. Zelma reveals they are now in the western cortex of the Neverish, something she will explain more about later. Eventually Zelma finds another door in the Neverish. When she opens it Zelma welcomes Emily to Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
They walk through the streets of New Orleans until they reach a gate that is covered in grass and vines. Zelma unlocks the gate with a magic spell. The spell shows a path to the Strange Academy, something Emily is very impressed by.
While walking towards the school Zelma and Emily run into other Strange Academy students , a fairy named Shaylee Moonpeddle and brothers Iric and Alvi from Asgard. Shaylee warmly welcomes Emily by giving her a hug.
Suddenly a portal opens and a young Frost Giant shows up. As the students get ready to defend themselves Loki appears behind the young Frost Giant. Loki reveals that the young Frost Giant name is Guslaug and is a new student at the school. Loki then tries to flirt with Zelma but she ignores him and welcomes Guslaug to the school.
Another person shows up who looks like a young Dormammu. The students once again react by shooting a spell at the young Dormammu looking kid. The Dormammu kid counters the attack with his own magic spell. Brother Voodoo quickly shows up to break up the fight and reveals the new student’s name is Doyle Dormammu. He also introduces the others to Calvin Morse and Dessy, more students of the school.
Everyone goes inside where Zelma takes all the students on a tour of the campus. During the tour Zelma reveals the building is a historic sanctuary for mystic art users. Zelma goes on about everything that the students will have access to. When they get to a nearby lake one of the students named Toth, who is from the swamps of Weirdworld, jumps into the water.
Eventually they get to the dorm rooms where Zelma assigns everyone a room and roommate. While Iric and Doyle complain Zelma says the room assignments are final.
Later, while eating lunch the students talk about themselves with each other, including Dessy who is from Limbo.
Afterwards everyone goes back to their rooms. While in their rooms Calvin continuously questions Iric about Asgard and the residents there.
Meanwhile, as they unpack Emily learns that Shaylee is half-human, half-fairy with her dad being from Brooklyn. Shaylee reveals that because her mom broke the rules of mating with humans the fairy council forbid her from seeing her dad ever again. Seeing that Shaylee blames herself for her parents not being together Emily says that it’s not their fault for what adults decide to do. Shaylee agrees and says she can’t wait to be better friends with Emily.
In other rooms Doyle and Iric, and German and Toth have awkward tension with each other.
At that time, while talking about themselves Dessy indicates she knows Zoe is hiding something. Zoe is surprised when Dessy says she would not tell anyone her secret.
Later the students, wearing their school uniform, go outside where Brother Voodoo welcomes them all to their first year at the Strange Academy. Brother Voodoo reveals that the Strange Academy is the first of its kind and will help nurture all of the students’ talent with the mystic arts.
Brother Voodoo then introduces the students to the Strange Academy core staff will be Zelma, the Ancient One, and the Mindful One. Brother Voodoo then reveals that Hellstorm, Nico Minoru, Scarlet Witch, Magik, and Shaman will be special guest teachers throughout the year.
Doyle wonders if Doctor Strange will also be one of their teachers since he is not there. Brother Voodoo says Doctor Strange is part of the staff but is busy right now with work.
Just when Brother Voodoo says that Doctor Strange shows up while fighting a Throzil. Doctor Strange asks the students if any of them wants to have some fun on their first day of school. All the students happily jump at the chance to help Doctor Strange. Eventually with his students’ help Doctor Strange is able to defeat the Throzil.
Doctor Strange asks Brother Voodoo where he was in his conversation. Brother Voodoo says he was finishing up giving words of encouragement to the students.
Doctor Strange uses that as a chance to talk about how he is there to help everyone and while some of them may think they are already badasses to soak all this up, have fun and don’t die. End of issue.
The Good: Strange Academy #1 was exactly what it needed to be. We were introduced to a whole new set of characters that will make up the core of this series. In the process Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos bring in some familiar faces from Marvel’s magic corner to set-up the mission statement for this series. All that is done in a school setting that has all the potential to make Strange Academy a break-out success.
From the opening page Skottie Young shows how rich with potential Marvel’s magic world is. There is so much about this corner of the Marvel Universe that hasn’t been explored outside of Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo’s adventures. Bringing in a group of fresh faces to see what else the magic realm has to offer opens the opportunity to explore this corner of the Marvel Universe alongside new characters.
Beginning Strange Academy #1 with a young girl who has no experience with the magical world outside knowing she is a magician was a smart move. Emily Bright was able to act as a conduit for the reader. What made Emily so engaging was the fact that she wasn’t scared about the world she was entering. Instead she had a wide-eyed amazement about everything she was seeing at the Strange Academy. That is similar to how the reader would feel given how much of the Marvel Universe we’ve seen. Seeing Frost Giants and Dormammu-types are not new to us. Emily approached it in a similar manner as she was genuinely excited about the friends she was going to make and opportunity she had to improve her magical ability.
Having a student body made up of a wide range of characters from the Marvel Universe is a natural way to diversify the cast of characters for Strange Academy. It’s been long established that magic is not unique to Earth. We’ve seen a wide variety of characters from different worlds, realms and dimensions have the ability to use magic. Tapping into that by having characters who are Asgardian, Frost Giants and Dark Dimension beings opens things up in terms of the type of adventures these students can have. Having all these characters as part of the cast helps the Earth-based characters like Emily Bright and Zoe Laveu stand out.
With so many new characters introduced in Strange Academy #1 Young does a good job giving enough time to each student to get a feel for who they are. Each student comes across as a unique character who brings something different to the table. Even the characters that come across as jerks add something as they make are the type of people you expect to find in a school setting. How they develop over time will be interesting to see.
Young also does a good job setting up several sub-plots and rules for the magic corner of the Marvel Universe. The one that particularly stood out involved Shaylee Moonpeddle standing as a half-fairy, half-human. Shaylee’s background opens the door to see more of the magic corner’s politics at play as we learn that fairies are forbidden from mating with humans. That puts into question what other politics are at play with magical beings from Earth and worlds that can be explored through the students of Strange Academy.
With new characters making up the core student body of Strange Academy having familiar characters like Doctor Strange, Brother Voodoo and Zelma Stanton help in selling this series. These characters are well established as being key characters in Marvel’s magic corner. Having them be the ones to start up Strange Academy gives a strong foundation to build both the school and students on.
It’ll be interesting to see how Young ends up using not only Doctor Strange but also the guest teachers. Establishing Hellstorm, Nico Minoru, Scarlet Witch, Magik, and Shaman as guest teachers opens things up further to have stories dedicated to different types of stories. Scarlet Witch for example could use her Avengers ties to show more of the superhero world to these students. While Magik can bring in things from the mutant world to connect that with magic.
While Humberto Ramos can be divisive artist Strange Academy is the right series for his talents. Ramos does a great job showing how there are so many different types of characters that are magic based. He breathes life into each character by having them each have a personality that is unique to their look.
Ramos also nails the setting of Strange Academy. The environment feels rich with how the school is in the middle of nature. The use of space makes the entire setting have a larger than life feel to where Strange Academy is.
The Bad: Strange Academy #1 is a pure set-up issue. That means it is a dialogue heavy issue as we learn who the core cast of this series is. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea because of that. For those expecting more of a traditional superhero series this is not it. There are more elements of slice-of-life in this issue than Marvel fans are used to.
Overall: Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos showcase the vast potential the Marvel Universe’s magic corner has with Strange Academy #1. The cast of characters in Strange Academy are a fun mix of new and familiar faces from different corners of the Marvel Universe. If you are a fan of the X-Men, Harry Potter or My Hero Academia I highly recommend picking up Strange Academy #1.
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