Doctor Strange #23-28
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #23, Doctor Strange #24, Doctor Strange #25, Doctor Strange #26, Doctor Strange #27, Doctor Strange #28
One minor disappointment is that the these worm balls...
...looked a lot cooler on the cover. I really thought they would be big yarn balls made of earthworms, but that seems to not be the case. Not that it really matters.
Issue #23 deals with Strange's entrance to the Quadriverse, and the story beginning with issue #24 deals with Dr. Strange facing the group of cosmic wizards called the Creators, who are either building a new universe or re-creating our universe (it's a little unclear, possibly because info didn't get passed along properly during the creative team changes, or possibly because it is no longer the 70s and i'm not on drugs).
Dr. Strange has been acting irrationally, so after defeating the Creators (with the help of the sun goddess Apalla), he rashly destroys their big device, unwittingly setting their plan into motion anyway. Strange's behavior turns out to be caused by a gremlin that he unknowingly absorbed in issue #23.
Reality is re-written. On Earth, all humans assume a half-human, half-animal form..
...including, and get ready for this, because it is awesome, Dr. Strange's analogue, who is half-man, half-boar, but 100% superfantastic:
Yes, Dr. Stranger Yet.
With Clea, he is able to defeat his doppelganger, and by scanning his mind he discovers that the Ancient One has given up his One With The Universe status and is back on Earth. Strange hunts him down...
...and rescues him from some more avatars of the Creators.
From the Ancient One, Strange learns that the Creators are merely agents of another being, the In-Betweener.
After three issues, Jim Starlin leaves. He is replaced by Roger Stern, in one of his earliest writing assignments for Marvel (although he had been working as an editor). Stern's story is at least a little confusing, possibly due to the fact that he was trying to finish what Starlin started without knowing all the details. The In-Betweener first helps Dr. Strange and then attacks him. The In-Betweener was grooming the Creators in order to defeat Thanos since Warlock chose death over becoming the Magus, who was supposed to be a counter-balance to the mad titan. Ironically at this point Thanos has already been defeated by the Avengers and friends, a point that will be made next issue (this was probably originally a scheduling issue due to Dr. Strange being a bi-monthly book, but Stern works it into the story).
After quite a bit of fighting.. .
...in which Strange impresses the In-Betweener by being able to stand up to him (there's a cute bit where the In-Betweener compares Strange's tenacity to Adam Warlock, with Strange responding that he's no mere warlock), Strange wins by summoning Master Order and Lord Chaos (the In-Betweener's dual masters) the way he usually calls on the Vishanti or the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth.
It's a cool idea and it makes sense that Dr. Strange should be able to call on them, but at the same time it seems odd that they'd be so willing to take the In-Betweener away considering he seemed to at least think he was doing their bidding.
Art on the Stern issues is by Tom Sutton, who was surprisingly good. His depiction of the mystical fights recalls both Ditko and Starlin but in an original way. Very innovative stuff.
After the universe is restored, the Ancient One returns to his oneness with the universe...
...and Dr. Strange realizes that he's still the Sorcerer Supreme.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm allowing a lot of space between issue #22-23 to fit in a number of Defenders issues and also let the bi-monthly schedule of the series catch up with itself. The arc starts with Strange already heading to the Quadriverse, thinking to himself "With Clea safe...", but i don't take that to mean that he headed here directly. He took Clea home, made sure she was ok, got involved with some Defenders stuff, and eventually got ready to pick up on Xander's trail.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAncient One, Apalla, Clea, Dr. Strange, In-Betweener, Lord Chaos, Master Order, Styrgo, Wong
One thing you didn't mention in your review- at the end of issue 28, Strange realizes that he's still the Sorcerer Supreme.
Posted by: Michael | May 30, 2013 8:17 PM
Thanks, Michael. Added that and included a scan. I must have not realized the significance of that when i first read these issues since i hadn't read Wolfman's run at the time.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 30, 2013 8:59 PM
I never liked the idea that "Sorcerer Supreme" is like getting a key to the executive washroom - a benefit you get when someone promotes you. It should be a title acknowledged by others due to one's mastery of the mystic arts and other accomplishments.
For the same reason, I thought it was a mistake to get rid of the Ancient One, one of the few supporting characters Dr Strange really has. Stephen Strange is just too much of a novice to justify that title. For obvious reasons, he should be the leading candidate to eventually replace the Ancient One - after all he is his apprentice in battling mystic threats to mankind. But once you say, "He is the most powerful one there is", it puts the writer in a real tough spot.
Considering various writers have tried to get rid of Strange's position as sorcerer supreme, I think others realize it is a problem too. Unfortunately, all their solutions seem to make it worse.
Posted by: Chris | May 30, 2013 11:01 PM
Holy cats! These issues look amazing.
Posted by: Yogi deadhead | May 2, 2016 3:15 PM
'Dr. Stranger Yet' makes Wonder Wart-Hog look like Miss Piggy...
Posted by: Oliver_C | May 2, 2016 4:57 PM
Here's a mature thought: Does the In-Betweener have really tight pants or is his tiny junk just dangling behind his robe edges?
Posted by: david banes | May 2, 2016 5:10 PM
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