Dr. Strange annual #2
Issue(s): Dr. Strange annual #2
A semi-related housekeeeping note: i have generally tried to spell out the word "Doctor" when writing the series name, while using the abbreviated "Dr." when referring to the character of Dr. Strange. But i made the decision to use the abbreviation for the first annual, since that's what it was in the indicia, and since this continues that numbering, i'm listing this book the same way for consistency. This has already caused me a problem, because when i was prepping my books for 1992 and i saw that this was issue #2, i searched my site for #1, but i searched for "Doctor Strange annual" and nearly missed the fact that i already owned it (it's kind of a forgettable story). The cover of this issue does say "Dr." but the indicia says "Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme" which is the correct full title of the current ongoing series, which makes the numbering all the more unusual. But this is all extremely nitpicky random stuff, so let me get on to the story.
Oh yeah, that's why i've been avoiding talking about the story. The "Wild One".
I do like those rock dudes. They are pretty awesome.
But the Wild One... i don't know why we're being subjected to him. I guess with his vaguely James Dean look, it's a kind of pun/reference to the Johnny O'Keefe song or something. Like, we're told that some Elder God called the Wild One is being brought back to Earth and we're expecting some kind of truly wild creature, but he's really the "Wild One" in the sense that he wears a leather jacket. I assume the three writers of this event got together to come up with the overall outline, so i don't know who really came up with that idea. His first full on panel appearance was in a Ron Marz issue, but the joke is something more like what Peter David or (1990s era, jokey) Roy Thomas would come up with. But Roy Thomas is doing the execution on this issue, so all my ire is directed at him.
This guy is totally lame. I mean, would you fight this guy? I'd laugh and walk away.
Seriously. Please don't. Just... stop.
So what happens? A lot of characters floating around...
...fighting the wind and volcanoes or whatever.
Eventually it becomes clear that the Wild One is not going to be honoring his agreement with Shanzar, so Shanzar helps the Defenders trick the Wild One into his Strange Matter dimension, trapping him there.
Shanzar then realizes he can't risk fighting the Defenders without freeing the Wild One, so that ends his participation in the story. Lucian Aster died while the Wild One is being trapped (he didn't really serve much of a purpose in this story anyway). Namor disappears at the end, having reverted to his amnesiac status quo once he's back in his own body.
And that's it. The plot of this event sucked, but i guess i should be thinking of it less in terms of the actual story and more just as a Defenders reunion. But the nature of the plot doesn't have the team interacting all that much. Too much floating around dealing with demons and mystical stuff (and that means not a lot for the Hulk and Namor to do). Which i guess was true of a lot of the Defenders issues, to be fair. Of course we also have Namor in Rick's body, and a version of the Hulk not at all how he was when he was a Defender (when his interactions with the rest of the team were a big highlight). So it's a weird kind of reunion. But it is nice for the "big four" Defenders to get back together; i just wish they could have had a better story.
There is the usual "greatest villains" back-up feature, and in addition to that there are three stories focusing on members of Dr. Strange's supporting cast. And all three (which are co-written by Thomas' researcher, Jean-Marc Lofficier) do some fun things with old continuity.
The first has Rintrah receiving Dr. Strange's original amulet and cloak.
He then goes to investigate reports of a haunted building, and finds the House of Shadows, who is now better called Condo of Shadows.
Rintrah is able to banish the Condo.
It's a nice callback to the early Strange Tales issues where Dr. Strange was still a disciple of the Ancient One. Now Rintrah is playing Strange's role.
The second story suffers from some serious cheesecake indulgence. What's happened to Morgana Blessing? She used to be a serious professional woman and now she's just constantly hanging around in lingerie. Are we sure this is really a healthy relationship and she's not actually under the thrall of this vampire?
The actual story has Baron Blood trying to play super-hero but getting lured into a trap.
The master of the golems that trapped him turns out to be Cagliostro, the wizard that was a rival of Dracula in the past and has also appeared in a few time travel stories in Iron Man and Doctor Strange. Baron Blood escapes from Cagliostro without defeating him. This seems to have been a set-up for future stories in the Doctor Strange series...
...but i don't think anything came of that. According to the MCP, this is Cagliostro's only modern day appearance (which is why i don't have a tag for him).
The final story does set things up for the regular series. Clea is taking a bath (of course) when she's visited by one of the house fairies (yes, Dr. Strange's home has house fairies) that has been possessed by someone claiming to be her cousin, one of the Faltine.
"Flyx" is uncomfortable talking about biological relationships.
He gives Clea a long long explanation about what boils down to a feud between various factions of the Faltine.
She agrees to help if, in return, Flyx will help her take back the Dark Dimension from Umar and Dormammu. But Clea doesn't want to involve Dr. Strange, and Flyx is supposedly not powerful enough on his own to help. So Clea gets the idea to get the help of the other members of the council that once attended Dormammu.
She starts with the one called Aggamon.
But it turns out that he's still mad about Dr. Strange stealing his Purple Gem, so he tries to trap Clea and Flyx. She manages to escape, destroying half of Aggamon's domain in the process. Aggamon surrenders and agrees to help by providing Clea with magical gems. Clea then says that she's going to visit Tiboro next.
"Flyx" will turn out to really be Dormammu in disguise. Which i have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, i think it would be interesting to see more of the actual Faltine. But on the other hand, i'd like them to be more regal and mysterious and not as jokey as Flyx is depicted, so i'm kind of glad that he turns out to not be legit.
This annual is a rare case where i like the back-ups more than the main story. Roy Thomas continues to be strongest when he's playing with continuity (although i think it's interesting that Jean-Marc Lofficier gets a credit whenever we're getting what i think of as characteristic Thomas stories). His current flippant scripting style continues to annoy me, and that's exacerbated when there's a joke villain like the Wild One and when i can't help but compare Thomas' brand of humor to the much funnier Peter David. But i like seeing the House of Shadows and Cagliostro and all the minor Strange Tales villains resurfacing, and what Thomas does with them in these little stories is pretty good.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the fourth and final part of Return of the Defenders.
Crossover: Return of the Defenders
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAggamon, Ajax, Baron Blood (Victor Strange), Clea, Dormammu, Dr. Strange, House of Shadows, Hulk, Lucian Aster, Morgana Blessing, Paris, Rick Jones, Rintrah, Shanzar, Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Ulysses, Wild One
Hey Johnny, what '90s Marvel annual are you rebelling against?
Whadda you got?
Posted by: Mortificator | February 24, 2016 3:23 PM
Really cool seeing Die Fledermaus again, even if a Dr. Strange annual is an odd place for it.
Posted by: Robert | February 24, 2016 3:41 PM
The Surfer quoting Yeats seems off to me.
Posted by: Michael | February 25, 2016 7:57 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|