Doctor Strange #71-73
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #71, Doctor Strange #72, Doctor Strange #73
This three-parter depicts the conclusion of Clea's rebellion against Umar.
Dr. Strange plays a significant part, but Stern ensures that it's Clea who leads the rebellion, makes the key choices, and defeats Umar in the end.
The Dark Dimension is kind of depicted as a somewhat generic D&D style world full of peasants, merchants, and wizards; a little more mundane than i would have liked...
...but there are also opportunities for Smith to show off the more Ditko-ish aspects.
One aspect that i wish would have been explored a little more is the idea that the people of the Dark Dimension weren't all that unhappy under Umar's rule, and Clea's rebellion may have been a bit... premature. Umar replaced Dormammu, and life under her is said to have improved. So it might have been interesting to position Clea as an idealistic revolutionary who doesn't accept what it takes to maintain stability after the rule of a dictator, or something along those lines, and there's some slight nods in that direction, but in the end Umar is exposed as entirely self-serving and evil (which, to be clear, is in keeping with previous depictions of her character).
These issues also provide an origin for Umar and her brother Dormammu. They were travelers from the dimension of Faltine (as in "the Flames of"). They arrived in the Dark Dimension and promised its ruler, Olnar...
...ways to expand his power and his borders. And they did so successfully until they accidentally (?) opened a portal to the realm of the Mindless Ones, who rampaged through the Dark Dimension and killed Olnar. Dormammu and Olnar sealed the Mindless Ones behind a barrier, and Dormammu assumed control of the throne. With rulership, he took on the Flames of Regency, which was previously just a giant bonfire in the center of the realm. Umar was weakened during the battle...
...and Dormammu also also silenced and banished all of the realm's wizards.
It's a bit disappointing to see that Dormammu is really just a human, but i suppose it was inevitable to reveal that considering his sister is (and this may have already been established previously in issues i haven't read).
Strange first disguises himself as, and then allies himself with, the Outcast wizards that Dormammu banished. Interestingly, they wear brooches that look like Dr. Strange's home's attic window.
The other big revelation is that Clea is Umar's daughter (actually it turns out that "we" knew it since Dr. Strange #9, but Clea wasn't in on the secret (and i somehow missed it when i read that issue, too). We knew that Clea's father, Orini, was strangely loyal to Umar, and we now learn that it's because they had a child together. Orini is also the son of the original Dark Dimension ruler Olnar (even though Olnar was depicted as much less human looking that Orini), making her a rightful heir to the throne from both dynasties.
Back on Earth, Wong reveals to Sara that the reason he's been politely ignoring her advances is that he's already engaged.
As always, in addition to the epic storyline, Roger Stern does a great job of touching on the human elements, like Strange's meeting Clea again for the first time after their break-up and realizing how she's grown, or Morgana Blessing's reaction to hearing that Stephen is heading off to help out his old girlfriend. Add Paul Smith's art to that, and you've got a nice set of issues.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Dr. Strange will still be in the Dark Dimension at the start of issue #74. Strange's appearance in New Avengers: Illuminati #3 needs to take place prior to that if we're piggy-backing off of the mind-wipe in Secret Wars II #3, since Strange returns to earth circa Secret Wars II #5.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (2): show
Asti the All-Seeing, Clea, Dr. Strange, Morgana Blessing, Orini, Sara Wolfe, Umar, Wong
Roy Thomas later retconned that Dormammu and Umar aren't really human- they merely took human form upon entering the Dark Dimension. (Umar first claimed that she had a human mother in Doctor Strange 9 but Roy revealed she was lying.)
You're very charitable when you say most people you know interpreted issue #9 that way. ;-) I just checked that issue and it's very clear that Clea was Umar's daughter. I've added the relevant scan to that issue's entry. Thanks!
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