When I read Silver Surfer: Black by Donny Cates several years ago I was immediately grabbed by the art. It was the first time I had seen Tradd Moore’s work and I was captivated by it. Reviewers agreed; we were all caught up with how different and vibrant the illustrations were and how well it worked for the character and story. One of the few characters that might be even better suited to Moore’s psychedelic style is Doctor Stephen Strange, and Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise is an amazing conceptual piece of art that proves this point. It’s an oversized book, for those of you with shelf size considerations, and it feels monumental when you hold it.
Doctor Strange wakes up alone in a strange place, which isn’t unusual for the character, but from the first page, otherworldly presences make themselves known. At first, he cannot remember who or where he is, but as he slowly remembers himself he begins to fight his way free of this hostile place and its ghosts. He tries to find a way home only to discover more mysteries and new people who would do him harm. He’s captured and bound by those who would take him to their home on Pleoma. As the story reaches an intentionally confusing point, we are given an interlude set previously where a woman who appears to be a goddess arrives late at night to the Sanctum Sanctorum to meet with Stephen. She has come to ask him to deliver her child in this world and in another that very night. She tells him the task will likely destroy him, but it will avert a genocide if they succeed.
From there, we head back to Dr. Strange, bound in a cart in another dimension with a woman named Yalda and her companion who are waiting to speak with him in the astral plane. They are healers in their lands and they would like to request his help here to perform a type of “surgery” to remove a deity of malice and hate from the Body Machine. Don’t worry about what the body machine is, you’ll hardly understand it and you won’t really be bothered. The main thing to know is that the visuals for all of the storytelling will keep you riveted.
The layout of the book is not traditional, even though there are some pages with more familiar panels. The influences you can see range from medieval illuminated manuscript art to psychedelic rock posters of the 1960’s and 70’s with touches of Jack Kirby sprinkled in. Some of the most densely packed details spill out of two page spreads and engulf you in the story. Heather Moore’s coloring throughout deserves a lot of praise as well. It brings so much depth and dimension to the mysterious Pleoma and helps guide the reader when the story shifts back to and forth from Earth. This style of art isn’t for everyone, it really is a lot to take in on each page and distorted people, gods and monsters may not always appeal. However, it’s such a standout, self contained work that it is still an easy recommendation.
Marvel rates this book as Teen+ and that feels appropriate based on violence and subject matter. There is no questionable language or nudity to speak of here, so it’s not something I would discourage teens from picking up if they are interested, but it is by no means a light read or a good introduction for people new to Doctor Strange. This Treasury Edition is great for libraries that can display an oversized graphic novel and showcase it, as it is bound to draw people to the section. I look forward to re-reading it and catching even more nuance and detail the next time through.
Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise Treasury Edition
By Tradd Moore
Art by Tradd Moore, Heather Moore
Publisher Age Rating: T+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)