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Comic Book / Strange Academy

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A 2020 Marvel Comic written by Skottie Young, with art by Humberto Ramos. Think of it like Hogwarts in the Marvel Universe...but weirder.

Emily Bright's magical powers first appeared when she was a baby and they have only gotten stronger. Now that she's a teenager, after an encounter with a living (and angry) tree, a Magic Librarian named Zelma Stanton asks Emily to join the new Strange Academy in New Orleans, the first school for up-and-coming magic users.

At the school, Emily meets her fellow students Shaylee Moonpeddle (a half-fairy), Alvi and Iric (the twin Asgardian sons of The Enchantress), Guslaug (a young Frost Giant), Doyle Dormammu (the son of Dormammu), Zoe Laveau (a practioner of Voodoo and descendant of Marie Laveau), Calvin Morse (and his enchanted leather jacket), Dessy (full name: Despair, a demon from Limbo), German (who can create animal projections), and Toth (a half-Crystal Warrior and half-Man Thing from Weirdworld).

She also meets her teachers: Doctor Voodoo, the Ancient One, Shaman, the Scarlet Witch, Daimon Hellstrom, Nico Minoru, Magik, Loki, the Mindful One, and Doctor Strange himself. And at the end of their first day at school, Strange gives them all the same advice: "Try not to die."

Tropes include:

  • Academy of Adventure: The academy is the typical "everything is weird and magical" school you'd expect to see in the Marvel Universe. It exists in an Bigger on the Inside enchanted space in New Orleans. The location was chosen for both practical and mystical reasons. New Orleans, as the home of Mardi Gras and Voodoo, allows characters with an unusual appearance to be taken in stride while the site itself resides in an area of special mystical energy that allows the students to focus on utilizing magic without having to pay the cost.
  • Alone Among Families: On Family Day, in Issue 9, Calvin, who has no family, and Doyle, whose father "won't be getting a visitor pass any time soon", both feel this way and decide to do some exploring instead of watching the others have fun.
  • And Then What?: Issue 17 ends with Emily staging a walkout to protest Calvin's expulsion and the general secretive nature of the school faculty. At the begging of the next issue it quickly becomes clear that Emily had absolutely no idea what she had hoped to accomplish through this and all the students who followed her into it were left homeless. (apparently going back to their own homes wasn't an option.) It turns out the only reason she really did this was because she was Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Badass Normal: Emily's mom, an apparently unmodified human with no known magical capabilities, participates in the Family Day race with an opposing team that includes Asgardians and Demons, and with obstacles including a fire-breathing dragon and wins! At one point she beats Loki, who she apparently shoved right off the racetrack!
  • Bad Future: In issue 14 Doyle accidentally goes to a future where the students of Strange Academy are at war with each other, it scares him so much that he decides to drop out of Strange Academy.
  • Betty and Veronica: Doyle is the Betty and Iric is the Veronica for Emily. As of issue 10 Emily has chosen Doyle.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: In the Bad Future Doyle witnesses, the most physically attractive, human looking students make up one team who are in conflict with one featuring a lot of the more monstrous ones. Doyle naturally assumes the first one is the good guys although there are strong hints that he misread it.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Emily and Doyle regarding Calvin's expulsion. On the one hand the faculty did allow him to keep attending the school even after he lost his jacket and gave him access to resources that would have helped him learn magic on his own merit, only for him to give up as soon as it got difficult and turn to a shady back-alley magic dealer, ignoring the warnings of a student who had personally dealt with him before and started selling a potentially lethal substance to the other students. On the other hand the faculty were very dismissive of the fact that Calvin was an ordinary teenage boy and a self admitted slow learner who was trying to keep up with a school full of pagan Gods, demons, fairies and various other mystical creatures who were half way through a year of work which he needed to start from scratch. Also none of this would have happened if Doctor Strange didn't create Mr. Misery.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Magik, in her first class, tells the students that they will have a "hell" of a good time. (She's teaching Inferno 101.) Nobody laughs. Magik then says that she shouldn't have taken the advice of Wolverine, because he calls people "bub" and you should never trust someone who calls people "bub."
  • Class Trip:
    • In issue 8 several of the students go on a field trip to space, trying to find a lost mystical relic, with Kanna as well as guest stars, Rocket and Groot.
    • Issue 10 centers around the class going on a field trip to Asgard.
  • Didn't Think This Through: A core premise of the story is that magic always exacts a cost. The academy is established on a special location where the students are able to practice magic freely without worrying about the cost. The problem the teachers have created is that this power boost is given to every student, everywhere on campus, so they never have the opportunity to feel what their actual power level is and there appears to be nothing in their studies that teaches them how to determine their current level accurately. This leads to the core students severely overestimating their abilities when they stage a "let's not tell the teachers" rescue and find they are woefully underpowered against the threat they face.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Banishing two students to a hellish dimension for disrupting class is a bit excessive on Magik's part to the point where Doctor Voodoo later sternly suggests that she "refrain from that kind of thing" in the future.
  • Everyone Can See It: In issue 9, Doyle claims he doesn't like Emily in that way, but Calvin assures him that "everyone" already knows that he does.
  • First Day of School Episode: Issue 2 is all about the first day of classes that takes a week of time.
  • Flat Character: While Calvin, Germán, Gus, and Toth are part of the core eleven students which are the focus of the comic, they haven't been given much characterization compared to the others. Germán and Calvin have a smattering of back-story in issues 5 and 9 respectively, but Gus and Toth are still ciphers. Ironically, almost every issue has a splash page listing the main cast of characters and these four are always the last ones listed.
  • From Hero to Mentor: Former Runaways leader Nico Minoru, having suffered a considerable drop in power due to losing the Staff of One, now serves as an instructor for younger magic-users.
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: In issue 8, while on a class trip into space, Iric gets eaten and later regurgitated by a scribbit. While the experience is humiliating for him, there are no ill effects thanks to his Asgardian physiology.
  • Ghost Extras: Although background shots of the academy "between classes" shows that the total student population is around 100, the story focus is on the main eleven or so students and their teachers.
  • Going to Give It More Energy: In issue 12, when faced with Mister Misery, Dessy deduces that the way to defeat him is to feed him more misery until he "bursts" with her classmates joining her. It doesn't make him burst but it does incapacitate him long enough for Dessy to eat him.
  • Hate at First Sight: Iric and Doyle. Iric outright tried to zap Doyle when they first met (on the grounds that Doyle must be an evil demon), and Doyle refuses to play nice after that greeting.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Gaslamp is shaping up to be this.
  • Magical Society: Since the Marvel Universe has multiple magical societies, so does the Strange Academy, having students which include Asgardians, demons from Limbo, regular humans, and even Toth (a half-Crystal Warrior, half-Man-Thing from Weirdworld).
  • No OSHA Compliance: While the academy is intended to prepare young sorcerers to be adaptable in the myriad challenges they will face, the current teaching strategy seems to be "throw them all in the deep end and hope they swim". We've seen training situations that include the Ancient One releasing a monstrous Djinn upon a class with instructions to return to its lamp without using magic as he calmly leaves the room; Dr Strange warping into a class orientation while fighting some Eldritch Abomination expecting the young students to jump in and help; to a game of tag that involves running though mystical doors that connect to multiple dimensions without a means of tracking where anyone is going or even doing a basic headcount at the end of the game to insure everyone made it back.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Technically the academy has a school uniform consisting of a white shirt, black tie, grey pants or skirt, a jacket, vest or sweater and apparently no standards for footwear. In practice, we see the class of first years wearing so many different variations and combinations of this basic design that the concept of a consistent "Strange Academy" look doesn't really exist.
  • Official Couple:
    • Emily Bright and Doyle Dormammu seem to have become this in issue 10 with them sharing a proper kiss, much to Iric's displeasure.
    • Also in issue 10 Shaylee Moonpeddle asks Toth to be her boyfriend and he gives her a thumbs up.
  • Power at a Price: An underlying rule in the Marvel Universe is that all magic has a cost. One of the goals of the school is to teach students to work within this rule of magic so they don't accidentally incur the consequences associated with invoking forces beyond their ability to pay for. The Strange Academy is established as a "safe space" where students can freely practice magic without worry because Dr. Strange made a deal with Hoggoth, a Vishanti, to take the cost on themselves.
  • Ring of Power: Emily siphons too much magic for her body to handle in issue 6 and it nearly kills her. Hoggoth is able to remove most of the excess magic from her but not all of it. So, in order to keep what's left at bay, Doyle gives Doctor Strange a piece of his bounding crown to be made into a ring for Emily.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Doyle accidentally releases one of these from an enchanted book in the school library. Zelma, Doyle, Gus and several other students are able to quickly get the thing back into its prison but the library suffers some considerable damage during its brief escape.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Discussed. When Doyle enters a Bad Future in which he becomes a villain, he contemplates dropping out of Strange Academy. He's talked out of it by Brother Voodoo who points out that dropping out of the academy may be the point of his turn to evil.
  • Ship Tease: Between Doyle and Emily, he clearly has a crush on her and, at one point, she says that he is "cute" and they defend each other on a regular basis. Moreover when Doyle is killed by one of the "roots" of The Hollow Emily goes into a rage and destroys said "root" even though doing so nearly kills her as well. Once Emily is mostly healed Doyle literally comes Back from the Dead upon being kissed by her, and when Doyle learns what Emily did and what it cost her he gives Doctor Strange a piece of his bounding crown to be made into a ring to keep the remaining magic that Emily siphoned at bay, and Emily clearly appreciates the gift once she finds out whose idea it was. They seem to have become an Official Couple as of issue 10.
    • Between Iric and Emily as well, although he tries to hide his attraction.
  • The Shrink: In a rather unexpected turn for a Marvel superhero story, after Doyle Dormammu is traumatically killed and comes back from the dead, he is shown receiving some qualified counseling from Dead Girl, who is well-suited to deal with this situation and the end of the issue shows Doyle's file with a recommendation that he continue with counseling sessions once a month.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Emily's mom and Loki become this during the Family Day games. Emily's mom is revealed as being fiercely competitive and Loki is well... Loki. We see examples of consistent taunting and trash talk between the two throughout the games and towards the end of the main race, Loki somehow "fell" hard out of bounds, just shy of the finish line giving the victory to Emily's mom. The score sheet at the end of the issue still lists Loki's time 1/100th second lower then theirs... with a note to Dr. Voodoo that he should check this.
  • Tempting Fate: Not only does Iric show up late for Illyana Rasputina's class on the first day but flaunts his attitude with the wince inducing line "But let's get real, What are you really going to do about it?". Naturally, Illyana uses her mystic portal to send him to Hell for the day.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: At the prom, Emily decides to comfort Calvin after he gets expelled from the academy without calling Doyle. This leads to Doyle thinking that she snubbed him, breaking his heart in the process. This spirals into a series of events that led to Doyle and Emily fighting each other, and the students leaving Strange Academy, setting in motion the Bad Future Doyle saw.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Zelma Stanton when she first appeared in vol. 4 of Doctor Strange was a Muggle whom Strange hired to take care of his library. Though she picked up on a bit of magic arts throughout the series, she was by no means a Magic Librarian. By the time this comic takes place, she's increased her mastery of the mystic art to the point where she can drive off demons with little problem, and is the academy's keeper of artifacts.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: Some students are members of mystically empowered races, some of the humans have magical heritages while others seem to be randomly gifted.
  • Wacky Racing: A foot race, but still the Family Day race has obstacles including, but not limited to, a body of water to swing over, stony spikes, icy pits, and a fire-breathing dragon!
  • Wizarding School: For the Marvel Universe.