I really want this series to be the start of something similar to what DNA are doing with Marvel's cosmic series of books. It better be, too, given the relatively unhappy ending of this book.
Okay, supernatural stuff tends to have a tinge of the unfulfilled, unhappy, etc. Almost all books out there signal that magic isn't somehing to be toyed with. Using it will result in consequences that will ruin your life. "Constantine" does a better job of hitting that note than anything. Mark Waid did not need to go to that well for the end of this series.I've heard someone mention, I believe it was Chris Sims, or maybe someone on War Rocket Ajax one day, that Strange is a hard character to write and that no one seems to have done him right since Stan Lee. Parodies exist and flourish, such as Dr. Orpheus from Venture Brothers, but treating the character seriously and making him fun seems to be a monumental task.
What we have here is a man that has this amazing power, and amazing responsability towards the power, he is the master of its use and knowledge of it. It seems to be there is little to nothing that can flummox him. Strange almost sounds as if he's Bruce Wayne with Spider-Man's problems. The key negative to Dr. Strange is that people keep returning to the idea that magic has severe consequences for its use, and, thus, should be used sparingly. Peter Parker knows there are consequences for being Spider-Man, but he doesn't stop being Spider-Man BECAUSE the world will be worse off if he doesn't use them. Dr. Strange, instead, uses his powers in as limited a fashion as possible because it has such dire consequences for its use. People's lives become worse when he uses his powers. When the character can't have fun with his super powers, why should the people have fun reading about this tedious drama?
Marvel is going to release another series featuring Strange soon, co-starring Spider-Man, which I hope is a bit more fun. On the whole, Strange 1-4 wasnt a bad series, its that the theme is a bit too worn out for the good Doctor. Emma Rios' art is fantastic, though I cautiously critique Strange's floppy hair look. Waid's stories in parts 1 and 2 were fantastic, with part 3 going great as a lead in to this issue. This issue would have been wonderous if not for the downer of an ending. Now, Waid does hold out hope. Strange leaves the book stating, not in this many words, that using Magic doesnt have to be bad and that he should stop being such a pansy with its use. That's great. But did a tragedy, in the context of the greater narrative of the series, have to happen for that thought to occur?