Tradd and Heather Moore‘s Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise is visual feast that sometimes gets lost in its own storytelling. Modern art fans don’t want to miss this book!
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1
Writer/Artist: Tradd Moore
Colorist: Heather Moore
Letterer: Clayton Cowles with Tradd Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comic
“It is about personal style,” reads Roger Ebert’s review of the feature-length adaptation of Dashiell Hammett‘s The Thin Man. “About living life as a kind of artwork.”
I am not entirely sure what this comic had to say about Doctor Stephen Strange, ex-Sorcerer Supreme, but it had a helluv-a-lot to say about art. So, although I mostly want to talk about the artistic influences in Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1 so that you too can enjoy the visual modern-art feast that is Tradd and Heather Moore, I have several story allusions that I want to touch on first.
I was obsessed, I mean, obsessed with Alexandre Dumas‘ The Man in the Iron Mask, when I was youngers. And yes, the obsession did begin because Leondardo DiCaprio starred in a film about the infamous masked prisoner whose identity remains unknown, and I had teenage crush on the 90s heartthrob. However, I am also neurodiverse, and out of that, grew an obsession, So I read the book and remember the image of masked prisoner with his brunette hair dripping over his face in front of the magistrate clearly, and the following line: “A man is held to be criminal, sometimes, by the great ones of the earth, not because he has committed a crime himself but because he knows of one which has been committed.”
Now, we are only one issue in – and to rephrase what I previously said, this first issue was so jam-packed with allusions that I’m not entirely sure what it was about – but my guess is… Keep that line in mind.
Clap Your Hands If You’re Working Hard
The other night I was up late, feeling sorry for myself and every other queer on the planet, contemplating the nature of beauty, and binging Netflix (as one does at the beginning of S.A.D. season), when a line from Criminal: Spain cut through the noise and the bullshit in my brain. Not because it was a good line. But because it made no sense. It was something about how nobody ever thinks about a person’s hands.
Now, I was never a prima ballerina, but I had good dance training (Maria Tallchief, Jilliana, Cynthia Gregory)—and it is always about the hands. One of the first things that a person learns in almost any sport is what to do with their hands. In dance (hell, even in cheerleading), no line is complete without the hands. In the hands is where the true beauty of the artform lies, it’s not the big jumps, or the triple turns, but the little movements of the hands because that’s how a dancer can express themselves.
It’s also how artists express themselves (well, most of the time). And doctors, for that matter. The Moores get that with Doctor Strange. It is always about the hands, and it’s wonderful to see Stephen’s beautifully gnarly hands. Their mid-stage signature Moore hands are perfect for Stephen’s multiply reconstructed hands.
What do I mean by mid-stage Moore hands? Back when Tradd worked on Ghost Rider and Secret Avengers, his hands didn’t look they leaped off an Egon Schiele oil painting.
The phenomenon of the Tradd Moore hand seems to have started with Venom #150 by Mike Costa, Moore, Felipe Sobriero, and Cowles, and have been perfected by Silver Surfer: Black, with Donny Cates, check it out:
It’s Pretty Freaky
This book is a clear evolution of Tradd’s work as an artist, thanks to the partnership with Heather. While the heavy-handed allusions and stilted dialogue comes out of his work on Silver Surfer: Black series with friend and fellow Savannah College of Art and Design Grad Cates, the use of color and design flows from Heather and Tradd’s previous work together on The New World with writer Aleš Klot.
“Sparing use of color effects avoids over-saturation and makes individual moments of importance feel more impactful,” said Heather in 2018’s PanelxPanel, Vol. 2, issue #13 about The New World (TNW). Citing artistic inspiration including Lisa Frank (who always deserves love), Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Tadao Ando, Mitsuo Katsui, and Tadanori Yokoo as inspiration, the colorist also noted using the tools of the trade to “navigate time and reality” and “traverse the depths of feeling.”
Heather brought the same aesthtic to Fall Sunrise, and it’s perfect for this book. Much like TNW, Fall Sunrise utilizes jarring, artificial, and dream-like colors and effects contrasted against more muted palattes to tell story between the words. Heather is very intentional with color choices for characters (e.g., the dominant use of yellow for Doctor Strange’s sickly hands), and their exterior environments (e.g., the use of red to signify fear) to add another layer of non-verbal dialogue to the Marvel world.
Heather’s work as a colorist is the most excitiing thing about this series, and I say that with full joy. I would love to learn more about the collaborative process between these two creators, and I can’t wait to see how the use of color continues to evolve.
Avengers Forever #11
This series is all about the assist for the bigger Multiversal Masters of Evil storyline. Creators Jason Aaron, Jim Towe, and Frank Martin use this issue to set up Robbie Reyes as the best hope for defeating this multi-dimensional threat as the All-Rider, the ultimate incarnation of the Ghost Rider. A decent stepping stone to the next big event as this issue is full of sacrifice as the Multiversal Avengers make their way to the mysterious Avenger Prime and Earth-616 in Avengers Assemble: Alpha. – GC3
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