Doctor Strange: The Book Of The Vishanti by Matthew K. Manning (book review).

Don’t expect everything to be normal about ‘Doctor Strange: The Book Of The Vishanti’. The initial surprise was having none of the original art from its various Marvel Comics series in here. That might be contractual expense. Some of Alessandro Valdióhi’s is passable but they missed a key selling point. Then again, the page numbers varies a lot as well so the entire book might be spellbound.

The text does work however. Stephen Strange isn’t the first Sorcerer Supreme on Earth, although I was surprised that Isaac Newton was considered one. With Strange’s history itself, although its noted the Ancient One gave him Agamotto artefacts, it is neglected that he was given the cloak of levitation as well. Actually, he was given a second one, too, which was much more powerful. Ah, that and his other cloaks get their own feature further in. I have a long memory of this sorcerer right up to the time I stopped reading comicbooks full time in the 1990s.

Don’t expect everything to be in any set order and there is no index to seek out the bits you want to look up. Clea gets her piece before her mother, Umar. I always had a soft spot for Umar, as drawn by Marie Severin when Veritis showed what she really looked like. The Dark Dimension’s most dysfunctional family group. Incidentally, no entry for Veritis, granted it is, for want of a better word, a sentient cloak, it was handy for Doctor Strange when in the Dark Dimension.

Considering my dislike of fantasy, you might be wondering why I like Doctor Strange? I think largely because when Stan Lee cited the spells, you knew what they would do. Nothing like DC Comics’ Dr. Fate who just used power blasts and Zantanna reciting words sdrawkcab. As such Doctor Strange was better grounded. The explanation given in the text was the recanted spells were used to draw the energies together for the magic to take place.

Oh, in case you didn’t know, the Vishanti of the title are three individuals, Oshtur, Hoggoth and the much younger Agamotto. Looking at how he was created, its no wonder he’s associated with being all-seeing.

A third of the way through the book and my memory clicking on who is getting missed out, I did think of Zom. He’s referenced against the Ancient One and Eternity but that’s it. Not exactly a major player anymore but any being who could kill the Ancient One has to be reckoned with. I was going to tell you about the Spell of Forgetfulness but clean forgot about it.

Odd bits of information might have been covered. It’s common knowledge what Sise-Neg is when spelt backwards. With the list of other magical beings, why wasn’t Magik’s real name, Illyana Rasputin, given. It’s not as though other names aren’t given for other characters. I’m still pondering on any missed characters from yesteryear. Dracula is mentioned a couple times but nothing beyond that, although vampires are covered as being a magical force. Certainly the Darkhold could have done with some more information. There is some information about the Strange Academy. I am a bit concerned about failures being ejected from the school. Has nothing been learnt from the Ancient One’s failure with Baron Mordo? You want to redeem such people or at least reduce their potential to become dangerous by going elsewhere.

Oh, for those who might only be interested in the Infinity Stones, they are covered here and in the between level of magic and science in the Marvel Universe.

In some respects, there is much in this book that could be used as a ready reference to Doctor Strange and his associated characters and spells. The seemingly haphazard order of information would be more acceptable if there had also been an index. Unless Doctor Strange had a complete photographic memory, even he would find an index or a finding spell useful to dig information out. Alas for you, dear reader, you’ll have to read the lot.

GF Willmetts

May 2022

(pub: Abrams ComicArts, 2021. Page count varies: it’s a magic book, what do you expect? Price: £21.99 (UK), $29.99 (US), $37.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-5742-6)

check out website: www.abramscomicarts.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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