This issue concludes the “Last Days of Magic” arc, and just like the previous installments, the artwork, story, and symbolism is supreme.
I want to focus this post on pain and how the way we choose to deal with pain affects our physical and mental health. Within this tale, it comes to light that Doctor Strange has been hiding away his suffering, the result is the creation of a monster which is the physical manifestation of his repressed pain. I found this to be an accurate representation of what happens when an individual locks away personal anguish and trauma. That pain grows and festers within the individual until it becomes an internal monster, gnawing away at a person’s physical and mental well-being. For this reason, it is important to share your pain, because pain shared is pain lessened.
And this is what finally happens to Doctor Strange. People who the Doctor helped in the past now make themselves open to sharing and taking on a part of the Doctor’s suffering. When this happens, the monster which Strange created by hiding away his pain begins to weaken and lose its power.
Monster: I can feel them… sharing your suffering. All over the world. All of their own accord. How… how do you inspire such devotion?
When I was growing up, it was common for people to hide their feelings. To show emotion was to show weakness. Thankfully, more and more people these days recognize the importance of sharing your pain with others. It is very therapeutic and leads one to live a more happy and serene life.
This comic never ceases to impress me.
This issue is written from the perspective of Betty, who has acquired a blank diary and is attempting to recreate memories from her lost diaries as the group tries to make its way toward the CDC. Her diary entries form a narrative that blends past and present, which works incredibly well. In essence, she is using her journal as a way to dig up the dead, or the past which has been buried in the deep recesses of her psyche. It is almost as if she is undergoing a therapeutic self-analysis.
There is one journal entry which really stands out for me:
… they were all there, Diary. The “dead” we’d just “buried.” They were following us–pursuing us… That became our life. Running, always running, barely ahead of the monsters chasing us…
We often think that our past pains and demons are dead, but this is never really the case. We can bury the past, but never kill it. It is always there, waiting for the opportunity to rise and overtake us. This is the root of addiction, trying to escape the past which never ceases to pursue us. And no matter how fast or how far we run, our internal monsters are right behind us.
While this is a horror story and depicts a “zombie apocalypse,” it is the psychological horror that is truly the most terrifying aspect of this comic. We all have our psychological monsters which haunt and torment our memories, and like Betty, many of us turn to journal writing as a way of dealing with our painful memories. This often helps, but sometimes, it just reopens wounds that we thought had healed.
Happy Friday the 13th!