Summer Vacation With A Dark Twist: Reviewing ‘Strange Academy’ #18

When it comes to the magical Strange Academy, school is most definitely out for the summer. Unfortunately for the staff and for the student body, the reason that it’s out has put them in a pretty dire position as the youthful Marvel Comics series takes a bit of a hiatus.

For this entire series, there have been fingers pointing toward Doyle Dormammu as being the herald of some dark future, likely to fall into the same dark realms as his father. The last issue the vast majority of the students stormed out after Calvin Monroe was kicked out for basically magically drug dealing on campus. After a few months between issues (the world paper shortages and shipping issues have brought many delays to comics), we get the next part, and a ton of stuff gets turned on its head.

Skottie Young has written such an intriguing and real series, even with its supernatural and magical settings, where the issues of the youth are not only tangible but heavily relatable. Emotions are running high, the adults are making choices at times without really thinking about what it means for their charges, the uncertain future weighs upon them, and just like in reality the young start to find themselves and believe that maybe they can do things better than what has come before.

Because these characters are so fleshed out and real what has happened to them is so much more powerful, and the reader can feel that so much in this issue as our main perspective character Emily begins to succumb to the darkness within. Normally a cliffhanger like this would be something I am not a fan of but it works here, as it’s a big powerful dire moment and we know (from the letter at the end) that the next ‘season’ of the series is on the way later this year.

All those magical emotional moments are brought to life again by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado, given the weight and depth, and power that they deserve. There is a ton of action in this issue to go alongside the talking/emotional moments, and Ramos brings such magical energy to everything that he draws. Such dynamic energy showcases what power these individuals are capable of unleashing, while also making sure it’s still on a very personal level rather than a huge super battle type situation.

The paneling choices are inspired as always, bringing a collected almost ordered chaos to the pages along the way.

While there is plenty of colors to be found, those bright flashes of superhero/magical style colors, the darkness is dripping on every page almost in an overwhelming way. Which is how it should be, as the darkness has grown more and more with each issue, and has grown more within Emily. Those shadows and darkness along with the more muted color palette that can be found, it almost feels Earthy in many ways, bring more weight to the story, and help us to feel the power.

Alongside that action is plenty of dialogue which gets its life and energy from Clayton Cowles. Changing font sizes or styles, even changing the size or type of bubble, helps make the dialogue more realistic because we can sense the emotion or understand what the volume/tone is meant to be in this moment. Different styles of bubbles, with color or jagged edges or fonts that are even darker, are such a great thing to do with these characters when many of them come from a variety of magical realms outside of our own. It makes their voices different and adds some visual fun to the pages.

Strange Academy #18 is now available from Marvel.

When it comes to the magical Strange Academy, school is most definitely out for the summer. Unfortunately for the staffCOMICONRead More

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