Summary: It’s hard to keep a good girl down… especially when she’s Dead! After a brief hiatus caused by their deaths, everyone’s favorite mutants are back! And this time, they’re bringing a host of… questions with them. Like why do some heroes and villains keep on dying, only to return from the dead? And why do other heroes and villains bite the bullet, only to remain dead? Who decides on this craziness? Is it some karmic wheel in the sky? Or is it just some guy in the marketing department? Well, one such deceased villain, named the Pitiful One, is going to find out. When the Pitiful One decides that he’s tired of being dead, he assembles a posse of Marvel’s deadest villains to attack the world of the living. And it’s up to Doctor Strange to stop him and his evil cohorts, but he needs help from…well, you know. With Kraven the Hunter, Tike Alicar and a few other surprise dead guests. Collects X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #1-5.
X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl, by Peter Milligan, Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred 7.5
Well, Peter Milligan does it again! In this case, he actually managed to make a Dr. Strange book fun to read! Oh, sure, it’s labelled as a Dead Girl book (courtesy of X-Statix), but the main character is actually Dr. Strange.
And, honestly, I’ve always found the good Doctor quite tedious. His stories were always too esoteric, too abstract, too creepy, for my taste.
But Milligan actually found a way to make Doc Strange fun. Oh, sure, I still find the setting a drag, what with all the magic stuff, moving from one realm to the next, blah blah blah, but he actually injected some life and humour into a strip I would otherwise dread.
Right from the onset, Milligan had me chuckling: He made Dr. Strange self-deprecating in some ways, making him correct himself about his use of more traditional English such as “it will suffice” vs “it will do”. Strange would roll his eyes at his own stuffiness and I found that quite amusing.
He would also correct Wong’s broken English, pointing out that they both knew he could speak perfectly. What is intimated here is that his assistant was originally written as an Asian stereotype, or that the character is playing a part for the rest of the world – even though he is something entirely different.
Then there was that sequence when Dr. Strange went shopping for parts to reanimate Dead Girl with, and walked around a mall with his shopping list and wearing glasses to read. It seemed so incongruous that it made me laugh – especially since he had a small upscale shopping bag on his wrist.
(And don’t even get me started with Dead Girl’s first appearance, since Strange put her together with various meats from the butcher shop!)
Of course, there’s the more mystical stuff, like the names of his spells, which sounded like jokes to me (perhaps they were taken from the original books, but it doesn’t look like it at first glance) or the names of the different levels of hell, such as The Pit of Imaginary Scabs, The Dungeon of Sexual Inadequacies, and The Halls of Boredom.
Then there’s the regular references to Strange’s haemorrhoids, which end up being more important than they appeared initially. It’s hard to take a book or a character too seriously when its stuffiness is removed by a nagging pain in the butt. It’s childish, I know, but it completely deflated things.
Aside from the humour, another appealing aspect of the book is its look, which gives the impression of pencil drawings that were then coloured over. It’s inked, certainly, but somehow the artists managed to blur the art a little bit and add lines that don’t make it look slick and modern – despite the modern artistic style of Dragotta. Frankly, I’m not sure just how much I like it, but I respect the talent and the uniqueness of this chosen look. To me, this is original.
As far as the story goes, though, it was nothing that really appealed to me: Dr. Strange gets caught up with some undead villains and heroes who are able to come to life for 24 hours at a time and cause havoc on Earth – their intention being to eventually return to life permanently. He takes it upon himself to round up other undeads to try to prevent this from happening.
Meh. And the undead characters aren’t even interesting, either (on either side of the conflict!). We also actually never find out who the main villain is – a nice little joke on the readers, I must say, but it would be nice to find out at some point.
Still, having said this, everything else about the book was tons of fun. I really am quite pleased with the end result, despite the average rating. I mean, let’s face it: Peter Milligan actually made me read a Doc Strange comic! And like it. Wow. That’s good enough for me.