Strange Tales #12-14
Issue(s): Strange Tales #12, Strange Tales #13, Strange Tales #14
Cloak & Dagger
Title: "Blue skies" / "Disorderly Conduct" / "Disorderly Conduct"
Title: "...Make thee mightier yet!" / "Ascent into hell" / "Apogee"
Marc McLaurin - Assistant Editor
Pretty much the entire half of their issue is Cloak trying to find a way to rescue Dagger, and it's interesting because Terry Austin enforces some limitations on Cloak's teleportation powers. First, he has to teleport to exactly the right spot, which is difficult to calculate while falling.
And second, once he catches her in his cloak, there's still a problem of momentum, which doesn't get blunted inside the shadow realm. So he goes into the ocean and absorbs a lot of water. It comes rushing in, blasting her with water.
It's painful but it does slow her momentum, and he's able to let her out.
Which is good because in the meantime he's drowning. So she winds up having to rescue him in turn.
The limitations on Cloak's powers make for some fun challenges. It would be easy enough to have had Cloak simply teleport Dagger to safety, but instead Austin makes a whole issue out of Cloak overcoming his limitations, and it's pretty cool.
There's some subplot points for Cloak & Dagger in issue #12, but let me come back to them in a minute and instead jump to Dr. Strange's story for #12. The cover says that "both Dagger and Doc take hard falls". And that's true. But for the Doctor Strange half of issue #12, we mostly see things from Victoria Bentley's perspective. It's almost a Marvels-esque type of story. We see Victoria realize that weird things are going on because of the destruction of artifacts in Doctor Strange's series...
...and then Strange does fall to Earth.
And he's got some weird new friends.
She offers to help him, and he tells her that she may regret it, and then quickly amends himself to say that she will regret it. But she insists on helping. So he starts to kiss her, but we find that he's really draining her magical powers.
Pretty dark stuff, and this even more than Strange killing the boy last arc drives home how much Dr. Strange has changed because you know this is entirely intentional on the part of Gillis.
Ok, back to the Cloak and Dagger subplots for issue #12, which will lead directly into their stories for #13-14, and then we'll return to Doctor Strange. See why i hate split books?
First, we have the introduction of Dagger's stepfather, Phillip Carlisle, to the cast.
Second, we have the Kingpin deciding to kill two birds with one stone, and bait the Punisher into attacking Cloak and Dagger. He has a low level drug dealer spill information to the Punisher that Cloak and Dagger have been selling drugs to kids. Power Pack overhear the conversation and decide to help their friends (surprised that they recognize the Punisher).
And that becomes the main plot for issues #13-14, which are illustrated by original Power Pack artist June Brigman. Katie and Julie chase the Punisher (love Katie Power's War Journal).
Jack and Alex are meanwhile supposed to be getting to Cloak and Dagger to warn them that the Punisher is coming, but since they don't have flying powers they are stuck on the bus and not making good progress.
Despite their sisters trying to slow the Punisher down...
...they all wind up at the church at the same time.
From the Punisher's point of view, a lot is made of the revelation that the Punisher was getting drugged by his fellow prison inmates prior to his previous encounter with Cloak and Dagger, which is what caused him to shoot at litterers and jaywalkers and the like. Because of all that, he only vaguely remembers Cloak & Dagger and believes that they might have been minions of the Kingpin.
Meanwhile, Cloak and Dagger return home from their fall with Cloak exhausted from making repeated teleports. They find that the Holy Ghost Church is now occupied by Dagger's uncle, Father Bowen, who is replacing Father Delgado, who has been locked up for insanity.
Father Bowen also tells Dagger that her stepfather will be showing up soon. The church winds up being pretty crowded when the Punisher confronts Cloak and Dagger. The good news is that the Punisher isn't really looking for a fight.
This is obviously a very different interpretation of the Punisher than the crazy-eyed guy we saw in the recent Assassin's Guild graphic novel, but Power Pack just has that effect on people. Love his big goofy grin talking to Katie.
Dagger's stepdad shows up a little late, and doesn't get broken in half when he threatens the Punisher.
Instead, the Punisher sends a nasty note to the Kingpin...
...and the Power kids hook up Mr. Carlisle with an apartment in their building. And he and Dagger are invited to the birthday party for their hamster, Yoda (ok, we've possibly crossed a line into the surreal at this point).
Even weirder, possibly, is that while everyone else is eating cake and playing with Goo Gams...
...Julie sneaks away to her room where Cloak his hiding, and she starts teaching him to read from Where The Wild Things Are. Cloak was studying relatively complex math (i mean, at least more than basic arithmetic) in Strange Tales #8; can he really not read?
The Punisher/Power Pack/Cloak & Dagger non-fight was cute.
Also in the Cloak and Dagger issues, a former friend of police detective Bridig O'Reilly, who is now deceased and resurrected as Mayhem, shows up at the police station to find out what happened to her friend. The friend's name is Rebecca 'Rusty' Nales and she's also a police detective. The police chief doesn't tell her about Mayhem.
Mayhem, meanwhile, visits Father Delgado, and finds that he is truly mad.
Later, Dagger visits Father Delgado, and he seems to have made a miraculous recovery, but he's really under the thrall of Mr. Jip.
Back to the Doctor Strange side. Strange, charged up with Victoria Bentley's powers, returns to his mentor Kaluu.
And they travel through a series of dimensions hunting the source of this latest and greatest attack on our world.
They get to a point where Kaluu can go no further.
So Strange presses on alone, and is confronted by a minion of the big boss.
Strange absorbs his power too.
And the big boss turns out to be Shuma-Gorath.
Strange has lost some of his memories in merging with the minion, and only barely recognizes the Earth, but he remembers that he's here to defeat the agent of chaos and he's powerful enough now to give the Elder God a good fight.
As Strange and Shuma-Gorath fight, the sky on Earth becomes engulfed with flame. And we see reactions for mystics on Earth, including Dr. Druid and Shaman.
Shuma-Gorath tells Dr. Strange that due to his very nature, the longer they battle and the more Strange drains power from him the way he did from Victoria and his minion, the more likely that Dr. Strange will simply become, Shuma-Gorath. "...once you have smashed this shell, you will stand in the midst of the cosmos and exult -- but after an age your will becomes the only good -- and one day when the magic invokes the name of Shuma-Gorath -- you will answer".
To defeat Shuma-Gorath, Strange throws a symbolic representation of the Earth at him...
...knowing that it will cause real destruction on Earth.
Strange responds to Shuma-Gorath claim that he will eventually turn into the elder god himself by committing suicide.
Shuma-Gorath is a cool character to use. He makes perfect sense as a Cthulhu-esque Elder God that might have been held back by the artifacts that Dr. Strange possessed, and he's also a credible but rarely used member of Strange's rogue's gallery. We've obviously gotten very far away from the normal status quo for Doctor Strange. By the time he's absorbed Shuma-Gorath's minion, which changes his appearance and removes a lot of his memories, he's hardly the same character anymore. And of course even before that he was going down this path of black magic and a breaking of all moral norms. It's an interesting period, although kind of like Iron Man in Armor Wars, there should be long term repercussions for his actions. Now, Strange kills himself at the end of this story, and that basically is the repercussion; in addition to being Strange's way to avoid Shuma-Gorath's predictions, it also can serve as self-sacrificing redemption. But of course, Strange will not remain dead...
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this after Power Pack #36, i guess because the kids don't seem to be grounded (i have Power Pack #36 before Power Pack #35, though, so i have this after #35). They've also placed the Punisher here between Punisher #7-8, which works fine since the Punisher is generally context free (although Microchip Jr. dies in Punisher #8-9 and then there's a crossover with Daredevil, so placing this earlier than those avoids any complications). Fantastic Four #314 shows Dr. Strange fighting Shuma-Gorath, so Strange Tales #14 takes place simultaneously with that. The MCP have Dr. Druid here between Avengers #290-291. Shaman was currently not appearing in Alpha Flight so he's free to appear here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Note that Strange succeeds in destroying Shuma-Gorath only by metaphorically destroying the Earth- he bashes Shuma-Gorath in the head with a "voodoo doll" of Earth, which kills hundreds, if not thousands. In the end, the suicide is like Tony's faking his death in Armor Wars- a copout that enables both heroes to avoid facing the consequences of becoming like Shuma-Gorath/Justin Hammer to defeat their machinations.
Posted by: Michael | May 25, 2014 9:22 AM
Hey, the Appendix to the Handbook calls that minion of Shuma Gorath "Arioch". Is it supposed to be Elric's patron, the Lord of Chaos? Arioch has a sufficiently human personality for me to believe it.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 25, 2014 9:36 AM
Added scans showing the scene Michael refers to.
Luis, i don't think the guy is named in these issues, but what you're saying makes sense. He even looks like Elric himself. I did kind of wonder why a relatively human looking guy would be used as a minion of Shuma-Gorath.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 25, 2014 12:51 PM
Long-time reader, first-time commenter.
Posted by: Cullen | May 28, 2014 1:11 AM
The minion's name Arioch is mentioned in the following issue; in the very first text box in the Strange story.
"To defeat the Lord of Chaos Arioch, Dr. Strange had to merge his very identity with his foe -- both gaining and losing much in the process."
Posted by: AF | January 22, 2016 3:57 PM
The scene where various weird things happen all around the world, including to Talisman and Dr. Druid, is a dead ringer for similar scenes in Grant Morrison's "Doom Patrol" starting a few years from here. Which makes sense, as Richard Case was the artist on both, but interesting to note that the first panel of the scene is analogous to the world-merging image from DC's 'Crisis on various earths' storylines.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 17, 2016 1:35 PM
The Punisher just puts his uzi on the ground without unloading it first. The guy really has no conception of gun safety, does he? What a menace he is.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 21, 2016 4:34 AM
I mean, there are children nearby! Dude, remember your training!
Posted by: ChrisW | July 21, 2016 4:35 AM
Shuma-Gorath's dialogue that you quoted was really cool!
Posted by: AlluAllu | October 26, 2016 1:07 PM
Comments are now closed.
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