Strange Academy has continued to be one of the best new comic book series that Marvel has put out recently. Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos have really hit their stride with developing the magic corner of the Marvel Universe by showing it through the eyes of young magicians in training. All the students of Strange Academy have been able to have time to shine as they get used to their new setting. Along the way Young and Ramos are also starting to develop a secret threat that is rising up that the students may need to take on soon. Will we find out who they are? Let’s see with Strange Academy #4.
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In some swamps the Hollow gather with their leader declaring that it is time they answer the call from Earth to rid of the people poisoning the world through magic. The Hollow leader says they will first go after the children who are learning magic.
Over at the Strange Academy Library, Doyle Dormammu is helping Zelma Stanton putting books away.
Dessy notices Zoe putting books away as well and asks her how she is hiding something. Zoe does not want to answer it so Dessy grab’s Zoe’s necklace. Without her necklace Zoe suddenly transforms into her undead form. Zoe freaks out saying Dessy had no right to do this. Dessy apologizes and gives Zoe her necklace back.
Shaylee and Calvin suddenly run into the library as they are playing a game of tag using the dimensional doors to escape one another. Shaylee tags Emily and gets Iric, Toth and German to play as well.
When Emily goes through one of the dimensional doors she ends up above New York City. Before she hits the ground Spider-Man catches her. Emily fills him in on the game of tag she is playing with the others.
The students continue to play their game of tag that takes them from Asgard all the way to Weirdworld. Emily is able to tag Iric and all the students make it to a lake in Weirdworld. They all use a spell so they can breath underwater and continue to run away from Iric, who is still it.
The students discover an sanctuary underwater. Before they can explore further a giant monster appears and destroys the underwater sanctuary.
Back at the Strange Academy Library, Doyle has accidently released a monster that was imprisoned inside a book. Zelma quickly grabs the book that was binding the monster. With help Gus the Ice Giant Zelma is able to focus her powers to put the monster back in the book it was locked in with.
Over in the Wooly Woods, Emily ends up on her own. As she wanders around Emily runs into something called a Catbeast. Emily asks the Catbeast if they could lead her to a door so she can get home.
The Catbeast leads Emily to a door but it is not to Strange Academy, but rather some basement. As Emily explores the basement a voice from behind a locked door reveals to her that she is in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Emily asks who the person behind the door is. The person says they were captured and placed there. Catbeast feels uneasy and thinks they should leave. The person locked up says they could maybe reveal things on Emily’s next visit.
Hearing Doctor Strange being led by Bats to the basement Emily and Catbeast leave through a dimensional door. Doctor Strange then tells Bats that he was right that there is nothing there.
Emily and Catbeast appear back at Strange Academy Library. Zelma recruits Emily to help clean the library up. Zelma also asks if the other students are safe, which Emily is not sure of.
Over at the swamps Calvin suddenly falls in the water after going through a dimensional door. As Calvin wonders where he is at the Hollow begin to surround him from the shadows. End of issue.
The Good: As we’ve gotten to know all the students in Strange Academy we are starting to see how the threats from the magic corner of the Marvel Universe are also rising up. We see that with how the Hollow begin to make their moves to strike Strange Academy. Having that run in the background as we see the students of Strange Academy continue to interact with each other made for an more interesting read.
Strange Academy #4 does not differ to much from past issues. We once again get a set-up for a one-shot style story as the students begin a game of tag using dimensional doors that are in the school. It’s been decisions like this that have helped to develop all the elements around what the magic corner of the Marvel Universe is like. Skottie Young does a very good job in treating the magical door and books with monsters locked inside as a normal thing for everyone. By doing so it gets the reader to immediately understand how we should see these elements are just part of the world.
The game of tag was also a fun way to get further into how these are all kids having fun learning about magic together. And as expected from kids we see them use their magic to play games during their down time. Little things like this help get over how these are all developing characters who are working together in a school setting. While things are sure to get serious down the line it is important that Young and Ramos allow the students be kids.
In the middle of all of this Strange Academy #4 did a good job developing several sub-plots. The big one involving the game of tag was Emily ending up in the Sanctum Sanctorum. The person that is being kept under lock and key does seem to be part of a big secret that Doctor Strange is keeping. That is something we saw in earlier issues brought up as Doctor Strange and the Strange Academy staff have a bigger reason for creating the school than just teaching the next generation of magic users. How this ties into that sub-plot will be interesting to see.
Likely the next thing we will directly be dealing with is this new group calling themselves the Hollow. The creatures are very reminiscent to Groot’s race but it looks like their origins are directly tied to Earth. The way the Hollow’s leader talked it seems that magic users on Earth are doing something to the planet that nature does not like. With how vague they were there are a lot of questions left to answer with what the Hollows ultimate goal is.
On a side note, it was interesting to see Young quickly answer why Zoe has been acting oddly since coming to Strange Academy. Dessy forcing Zoe to reveal that she is an undead was an unexpected move. Young did a good job making Zoe’s anger of over Dessy forcing to her to show her secret was understandable. In a school filled with different types of characters Zoe clearly has more to what is going on with her than what we know. At the same time, Young did a good job making Dessy not come across as a jerk for how she went about it as she was just trying to better understand someone she considers a friend.
Ramos artwork was once again at home drawing all the different places that the students visit in Strange Academy #4. The artwork for each world visited got across how there is a wide variety of settings in the Marvel Universe. Every single place visited felt like they had their own mysteries that these kids could explore from a magic perspective.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Strange Academy #4 was another solid entry in what has quickly become one of Marvel’s most consistently fun ongoing series. Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos did a good job using a game of tag between the students into a fun adventure across different parts of the Marvel Universe. That along with the growing mystery around what the true intention of Strange Academy build a solid sub-plots for future issues to follow up on.
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