Spider-Man/Dr. Strange: The Way To Dusty Death
Issue(s): Spider-Man/Dr. Strange: The Way To Dusty Death
It's the anniversary of the death of Uncle Ben, and Spider-Man is procrastinating about going to the cemetery when he sees Melinda about to jump off a bridge. He manages to catch her.
The ink credits in this book are kind of weird. Mark Beachum is listed as "inker/MELINDA" and Mark Texeira is listed as "inker/XANDU" while Michael Bair, in addition to his penciler credit, is listed as just "inker". Maybe Beachum just did the first half of the book, before Xandu appears, and Texeira begins inking after everyone goes to Xandu's dimension, while Bair does all the background inks. Or if Beachum and Texeira always ink just those characters, while Bair does everything else. You'd think i'd be able to instantly recognize Mark Texeira's inks, but it's not that obvious to me (although if i had to guess, Texeira did the second half of the book, not just Xandu). I mention all of this now because that image of Spider-Man catching Melinda looks very much like a drawn image of Spider-Man and Melinda was cut and pasted over a traced photograph of the bridge.
Melinda doesn't appreciate the rescue, and she tries to kill herself again by jumping in front of a truck. Spider-Man is busy thanks to demons that are pursuing her...
...but Dr. Strange shows up to save her this time. After helping to dispatch the demons, they take Melinda back to Strange's house.
It seems that Melinda has had a hard time adjusting to her return from death. Interesting that her frame of reference is a bunch of stuff from the 1960s. I guess we're not acknowledging the sliding timescale in this story.
Strange and Spider-Man are attacked by demons, and Spider-Man's astral self gets knocked out of his physical body, which winds up getting possessed by Xandu (this sort of thing happens a lot on Xandu stories). Xandu uses Spider-Man's body to kidnap Melinda. Dr. Strange sends his own astral form to accompany Spider-Man to the Death dimension.
Strange fights Spider-Xandu...
...while Spider-Man helps recover Melinda. Spider-Man also has to fight off illusions of Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy while in the Death dimension. He realizes that if they were really Ben and Gwen, they wouldn't be so mean to him. Spider-Man then stumbles upon Xandu's physical body and uses it to help Dr. Strange. Good thing Xandu is so buff for an old man.
Everyone is then put back in their rightful body. But Xandu says that Melinda was never truly restored to life, and so she needs to stay in the Death dimension. And Dr. Strange agrees that it's true. Xandu wants to stay with her, but Dr. Strange says that that would upset the balance of life and death in the dimension, which is currently suffering from earthquakes. To stop the dimension from collapsing, Dr. Strange destroys the Wand of Watoomb and has Melinda shout a primal scream that somehow makes her the ruler of the Death dimension. Xandu is forced to return to Earth with Spidey and Dr. Strange, but he's now a broken man. Dr. Strange says that he'll "find a place" for him to recover from his emotional wounds.
Even this isn't the final appearance of Xandu and Melinda. They'll appear again in the Secret Defenders series. I like Xandu just because he's got a cool Steve Ditko design and a monocle, but i really don't care about the characters, and it seems like every story with them is the same, with the only question being whether Melinda is going to be revealed to be really alive or really dead this time around.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Context free for both Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showDr. Strange, Melinda Morrison, Rintrah, Spider-Man, Wong, Xandu
Maybe it's just me, but I've always thought this book had something of a foot focus. It's all on Melinda except for one gratuitous panel featuring the otherwise-fully-clothed "Gwen."
Posted by: TCP | March 21, 2016 3:40 PM
It's not just you, TCP, as I had noticed that too.
Posted by: Bill | March 21, 2016 5:26 PM
Oh wow this was another super early comic along with Starjammers and this Cloak and Dagger graphic novel. All I remember is a woman is mostly naked most of the story.
Posted by: david banes | March 21, 2016 7:52 PM
This issue ignoring the Solo Avengers 5 story always bothered me- the ending implied that Melinda found happiness with John Kowalski.
Posted by: Michael | March 21, 2016 9:28 PM
The Conway and Thomas writing partnership was mostly for film scripts like Conan the Destroyer. They also wrote a script for an X-men film that never got made.
Based on interviews I've seen/read, I think their partnership was broken up by this point so the script for this special may have been sitting in a drawer since the late 80s before being drawn and published.
Posted by: Red Comet | March 21, 2016 11:45 PM
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