Characters Appearing: Agamotto, Clea, Dormammu, Dr. Strange, Galactus, Hoggoth, Nova (Frankie Raye), Oshtur, Rintrah, Sara Wolfe, Silver Surfer
Doctor Strange #43
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #43
Granted, anyone that has read the Odyssey knows that the adventures you have along the way can be as fun as the goal of your quest, but Roy Thomas seems to be determined to use his portion of the issues to de-mystify various cosmic beings, starting with Galactus last issue, and then Agamotto in this story, and then Cyttorak in the next one.
This is not new for 1990s Roy Thomas, who has been approaching this book with a flippant attitude since he took over, and we've already seen Thomas' gratingly jokey caterpillar version of Agamotto in this series. But it's been explained that the way we see Agamotto is based on Strange's perception and (for whatever reason) it's influenced by Strange's love of Alice In Wonderland. In this story, we see that Agamotto has several actual forms, which to me means that we're supposed to take them literally instead of writing them off as Strange's perception. And regardless of what he looks like or how annoying his dialogue is, we also find out in this story that he's extremely petty. He basically gets into a pissing match with Galactus because Galactus wants to use the Eye of Agamotto.
I never really loved the idea of us meeting Agamotto directly. In my view, the beings that Dr. Strange and others evoke with their spells should be unknowable and mysterious. When mystics learn how to invoke these entities, they are learning how to tap into their energies, and the beings grant the use of their powers, knowingly or unknowingly, according to their own cosmic motivations. We'll see a little bit of that, poorly, with Cyttorak next issue. But, in my view, what shouldn't happen is that if someone were to use a spell from one of these beings in a way that the entity doesn't like, the entity should simply not grant that request. The spell just shouldn't work. There's no need for the spellcaster and his friends to be teleported to the entity's dimension for a fistfight. These beings should be above all of that.
I include Galactus in this. The ways in which he and other cosmic entities differ from the entities that grant spell requests is potentially interesting, but if we're going to explore it, it shouldn't be in the form of Galactus trying to use the Eye of Agamotto - in the interest of saving Eternity, mind you - and Agamotto not liking the idea and getting into a fight with him.
Actually, this issue starts with Dr. Strange and Galactus still squabbling, and i was a little shocked to find out that they haven't even left Earth yet. Nova whispers to Strange to move it along already, since Galactus is probably getting hungry. But Galactus says he isn't going anywhere until Dr. Strange "gives" him the Eye of Agamotto. Strange responds that he's not "giving" it, but he'll hook it up to Galactus' ship's machinery.
The question of whether or not it should be possible to hook up the Eye to some technological equipment gets back to the difference between Marvel's "cosmic" entities and its mystical ones, and this really should have been a chance for the positive side of Roy Thomas to shine. But that's not the way this goes. instead, the Eye misfires, and Dr. Strange is zapped away. Meanwhile, back in Dr. Strange's house, Rintrah was using the Orb of Agamotto, and it starts attacking him with tentacles. Clea, who has returned just moments after leaving on her own quest, helps fight the tentacles, but the Orb disappears.
Clea says she's returned because the Dark Dimension has gone literally dark.
Strange, the Eye, and the Orb are now all in Agamotto's dimension.
Note that Agamotto is also upset about Rintrah using the Orb.
This seems really bizarre to me. Rintrah is Strange's apprentice, just like Strange was once the Ancient One's apprentice. Strange should be teaching him how to use the Orb. If he teaches him properly, Rintrah should learn how to cast the proper spells and use the artifact. If not, then the spells don't work. Agamotto's decision here seems completely arbitrary.
There's also the fact that Agamotto is completely disinterested in the fate of Eternity. Which i guess doesn't have to be wrong, but since Eternity was first introduced in a Dr. Strange story, i feel like there's a mystical connection there which should mean that the Vishanti shouldn't mind Dr. Strange using his powers to help him. In fact, as Michael notes in the comments, Eternity says that he gave the Ancient One "the magic amulet" in Strange Tales #138.
Agamotto traps Strange in an orb (or possibly the Orb). Strange tries to cast spells to escape, but thinks that he can't use any spells granted by the Vishanti, because they're all part of the same "old boys network". So instead he casts a spell that brings in Galactus.
Agamotto turns into a Fierce Caterpillar form, and gets into a fight with Galactus.
During the fight, Agamotto's hookah gets knocked about, and some of the "memory bubbles", where he apparently where he stores his memories (like those of Operation: Galactic Storm), get destroyed. So Agamotto gets extra angry. But then the other Vishanti do show up, and aren't happy about what's going on after all.
I take some comfort in the line here that the Vishanti are only "all-knowing" when they act in unison. I don't really like the idea, but at least i can basically ignore all this caterpillar stuff. Agamotto is Agamotto in the sense that i care about him only when he's with the other Vishanti. Otherwise he's just an annoying caterpillar. I do hope that Strange is right that the next time we see him (and from now on) he's only in the tiger form that we've seen him in previously.
Also note that Uncle Ben was a proto-Vishanti.
And here's Galactus being petty on the way out.
God, i really just hate this story.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: A footnote says that this takes place between Silver Surfer #67 and Infinity War #2.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
"There's also the fact that Agamotto is completely disinterested in the fate of Eternity. Which i guess doesn't have to be wrong, but since Eternity was first introduced in a Dr. Strange story, i feel like there's a mystical connection there which should mean that the Vishanti shouldn't mind Dr. Strange using his powers to help him."
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2016 11:22 AM
Thanks Michael. Nice to have some data to back up my cranky complaints.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 2, 2016 12:15 PM
fnord, as I've probably commented elsewhere on your site, I am actually a big fan of Roy Thomas. Having said that, I was *extremely* underwhelmed by these issues, and I agree with your assessment of them.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 2, 2016 12:47 PM
This is not how wise ascended masters should be behaving. Thomas just doesn't understand grandeur.
Posted by: Chris | April 2, 2016 2:34 PM
Comments are now closed.
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