Doctor Strange #21-24
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #21, Doctor Strange #22, Doctor Strange #23, Doctor Strange #24
...but this is really just a prelude to a heavily padded story that shuffles around the monarchs of the Dark Dimension. Dormammu comes back and briefly takes over, but when the smoke clears, Umar and Baron Mordo are in joint control of the Dark Dimension, with Dormammu having been tricked into agreeing to take dominion of just a portion of it, not realizing that it's the portion where the Mindless Ones live. And Clea is banished by her mother and sent back to Earth.
Butch Guice's art continues to be of the "posed ladies" variety...
...but his depiction of the Mindless Ones is pretty good and he does come up with one really weird visual during the arc.
Another highlight is Dr. Strange, with the help of the rebel wizards from Roger Stern's run (Mhuruuks), briefly taking possession of the G'uranthic Guardian.
It doesn't turn the tide of the fight and it ends with the Mhuruuks trapped in the statue, but it was a cool little moment.
As for the writing, Dormammu is a generic bad guy, making random references to Dr. Strange not speaking as "glibly" as he did the last time they met ("oh yes, I have been watching you..."), and calling Clea a "cow".
There was considerable uproar somewhat more recently (2008) when Brian Bendis had Dr. Doom call Ms. Marvel a cow during his Avengers run, with many people thinking it was out of character. It seems even weirder coming from Dormammu, whose go-to references shouldn't be Earth animals. Dormammu has disparagingly referred to humans as "mammals", but calling a relative a "cow" just seems like lazy scripting, especially since this story goes out of its way (including with Saga-style back-ups) to identify Clea and Umar as being of the "Faltine", and Clea being a Faltine/Dark Dimensioner hybrid.
More substantially, this arc relies on Sara Wolfe being an idiot, agreeing to release Baron Mordo from the prison because she's been weirdly smitten with him. Sara notices weird things going on with the Orb of Agamotto and instead of going to Wong or Rintrah or just doing nothing, she frees Baron Mordo, who immediately turns on her. And then there's Clea. In this arc, Dormammu has stolen the "Flames of Regency" (i.e. the fire that has appeared over her head since she became ruler of the Dark Dimension) from her, and that translates in this story to her being just about powerless. Which is ridiculous. As mentioned in this story (although it means nothing), Clea was an apprentice to Strange long before she became the ruler of the Dark Dimension, and she defeated Umar without the flames, or rather gained the flames in the process. The idea that she's next to nothing without them is really lame. I'm extra surprised by this because earlier in this run Thomas was handling Clea really well and showing her to be an equal to Strange. Now she's back to being apprentice-level, and a less powerful apprentice than Rintrah.
In general, we seem to be back to old school Roy Thomas, with heavy exposition. Either people explaining plot points in detail to the reader...
...or literally describing what is happening in the panel, as if we couldn't see the art.
We even have one of those "as someone else would say" moments to allow a person to say something that is totally out of character for them.
Actually, here's another one of those.
One weird thing from those back-ups. It's said that Dormammu was behind Jack the Ripper. Add that to the long list of explanations for Marvel's Jack the Ripper, including Thor #371-372 and Cloak & Dagger: Predator & Prey
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBaron Blood (Victor Strange), Baron Mordo, Clea, Dormammu, Dr. Strange, Imei Chang, Morgana Blessing, Orini, Rahl, Rintrah, Sara Wolfe, Umar, Wong
Umar claims that she only found out she was Clea's mother moments before Clea defeated her but Doctor Strange 9, 58 and 72 make it clear she knew all along.
Posted by: Michael | May 26, 2015 7:48 PM
I think a time-travelling Mister Hyde is a Jack the Ripper during the Heroic Age Thunderbolts. They must have like, one victim each.
Curiously, the animated series of X-Men had Jack the Ripper under the employ of Mister Sinister. Its been said that if the animated series of Spider-Man during the 90's got continued, it would have toyed with the idea of Carnage being Jack the Ripper, though considering how much dimension travel the end of the series had...
Posted by: Max_Spider | May 26, 2015 8:39 PM
@Michael - now i know why you said "most people" when you were pointing out my mistake on Doctor Strange #71-73. Who knew i had Roy Thomas himself for company.
It's probably fair to assume that Umar is lying in the scene in this issue denying she knew Clea was her daughter until recently, since she's setting up Dormammu for a betrayal. But considering the other things you point out, it seems Thomas either missed all of that or was engaging in deliberate revisionism.
I gave up on References for the Book of Vishanti back-ups during the voodoo portion, since they're not really part of the story. They also don't provide endnotes in the lettercol like they did in early chapters.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 26, 2015 9:24 PM
Dormammu should be one of the epic villains of Marvel, on the par with Mephisto. But he's never truly been written that way since Ditko. Dormammu only works as a character if he is the sovereign of the Dark Dimension. It's ever worse than removing Doom as king of Latveria.
Posted by: Chris | May 26, 2015 9:45 PM
@Michael: Can you recall when it was suggested that Umar had a human mother?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 27, 2015 7:08 AM
In Doctor Strange 9, which fnord linked to, Orini says to Umar "You spoke of your mother, who was human!"
Posted by: Michael | May 27, 2015 7:40 AM
@Michael: I was an issue off with my memory then. Thanks:) Do you have any ideas who Englehart might have had in mind as her mother?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 27, 2015 8:24 AM
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