Characters Appearing: Dr. Strange
Doctor Strange #19
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #19
I guess we'll call it a fill-in since it seems to interrupt the flow of the main story (next issue will begin examining the aftermath of the Vampiric Verses storyline that ended last issue), but the Thomases script this such that it fits into continuity. And in any event it reunites Gene Colan and Roy Thomas on Dr. Strange, so for a fill-in it's a worthy one. That said, it's just a standalone generic horror story.
Dr. Strange is looking at the Orb of Agamotto hoping to find a cure for his brother's vampirism when it flashes with a warning of death. And then Dr. Strange gets a call from a woman named Dr. Butler, who is in charge of a Project Azrael that is digging into a mountain in Nevada as a place to store nuclear waste (it's not called Yucca Mountain). Instead they unearthed a strange diamond-like material that has given Butler a touch of death. She's already killed her boyfriend and a man on the street when Strange arrives. They go back to the site and Strange finds an ancient horror inside the mountain.
Thomas is back to being flippant in the dialogue, telling Dr. Butler that his Eye of Agomotto is like "a VCR with delusions of grandeur" and you can see his "Baby's first words" comments above. He sounds like Spider-Man.
A bond has formed between Butler and "Azrael", and Butler tells Strange to kill her to stop the creature. Strange refuses. That might have been a cool moment to reference Strange's Black Magic period during Peter Gillis' run, where he sacrificed a boy to save more people and stop a similar evil entity, and how he's now turned away from that path. In any event, in this story Butler immediately finds a way to sacrifice herself anyway. Then, to seal the creature, Strange casts a spell from memory, and in the process the written version of that spell disappears from the Book of Vishanti, which Strange compares to his destruction of the Vampiric Verses.
When it's all over, it's discovered that Butler had a child that she subconsciously hid from herself.
Nice to see Colan on Strange again. One unfortunate thing is that modern color techniques and modern paper stock don't necessarily work that well with Colan's style. There are actually worse examples than here, where it still comes across pretty well. But everything's a little... brighter than it really should be.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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