The Small Lebowski:
Strange Tales #126-127 (Dr. Strange)
Issue(s): Strange Tales #126,Strange Tales #127 (Dr. Strange stories only)
...resulting in Dormammu swearing to never invade Dr. Strange's realm.
This arc introduces a lot of key concepts to the Dr. Strange mythos, including Dormammu himself (who we've seen before thanks to continuity inserts, but this is his first published appearance and this is the first time Dr. Strange meets him) (Previously in this series, Dormammu was one of the mystical beings that Strange called upon when casting spells, like the Vishanti.).
It also introduces (the not yet named) Clea...
...who mainly plays the role of a helpless captive in this story, but she does show some independence and a willingness to defy the nearly omnipotent Dormammu.
The guy in the cool purple triangular mask in this picture will eventually turn out to be Orini, Clea's father.
This issue also introduces the Dark Dimension...
...where Dormammu and Clea live alongside the Mindless Ones.
Indeed, it is the Mindless Ones that allow Strange to win the agreement from Dormammu. When they break free of their barrier, it requires the combined might of Strange and Dormammu to contain them again. And therefore Dormammu is unhappily indebted to Strange.
When Dr. Strange returns to Earth, he finds the Ancient One jubilant. Strange is rewarded with an upgraded cloak and amulet, which i believe are the real Eye of Agamotto and Cloak of Levitation.
Strange has used a similar amulet in the past, but i guess it wasn't the real artifact.
This extra-dimensional story allows for a lot of great trippy art from Ditko...
...and has a lot of cool ideas. It's also a nice break from the seemingly constant battles with Baron Mordo.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue begins with Dr. Strange returning to his body after the events of issue #125, so Dr. Strange shouldn't appear in any other books (such as Amazing Spider-Man annual #1 or Untold Tales of Spider-Man: Strange Encounters) in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #18,
Another one I remember from Bring on the Bad Guys. Given the rarity of Dormammu's appearances over the years it's interesting they would put him in that. But this is one of the times where Ditko's art really meshes well with the story - there are some great things here you just couldn't put in a normal comic.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 27, 2014 12:10 PM
I was introduced to this story from Bring on the Bad Guys as well, and I just loved it. Dormammu was a great villain which Ditko would utilize well. After Ditko left, Dormammu's grandeur took a definite turn for the worse. I never understood why he wasn't restored to his proper glory.
Posted by: Chris | December 27, 2014 4:49 PM
I've always felt that this was the defining story of Dr. Strange establishing his greatest enemy and implying just what an awesome responsibility he had. It also introduced his true love.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 30, 2016 4:45 PM
A super key ( and entertaining) entry into marveldom. In my opinion this is a top 10 maybe top 5 key.
Posted by: Steve z | February 9, 2017 11:31 PM
Love how Strange's return to The Ancient One is basically an RPG level up.
Lucky he solo'd this adventure, if it'd been a Defenders tale, Hulk mighta rolled for the loot.
Posted by: MK101 | April 19, 2017 12:40 PM
Dormammu is a hell of a good character design, too. Later stories will make the mystical flames aroudn Dormammu's head into some sort of magical "crown" that anyone in charge of the Dark Dimension can receive, but my sense is that Ditko was using them as visual shorthand for Dormammu's sheer, uncontained power.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 27, 2017 10:23 AM
Just want to add myself to the chorus here. Also read this in Bring on the Bad Guys, which made me a Dormammu fan thereafter. Dormammu is pretty awesome here.
Probably my favorite post-Ditko Dormammu story was X-Men: Magik (2000) by Abnett and Lanning. Dormammu meets Mephisto there (for the first time?), a meeting I had always wanted to see. Both give good showings against a massive mystical monstrosity that literally threatens all of the nether realms. Pluto and various other dimensional lords also show up. Great series, but not yet collected.
Posted by: intp | September 22, 2017 12:10 AM
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