Doctor Strange #26-27
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #26, Doctor Strange #27
Topaz returns, setting off a quest that will include a guest appearance by Werewolf By Night (these issues) and a crossover with Ghost Rider. Topaz is possessed by a demon that (she thinks) is called Ullikummis, and to exorcise the demon she needs the fur of a werewolf, the flame of a demon, and the talon of a vampire bat.
Before leaving, Dr. Strange outrageously puts Clea to sleep, on the grounds that he doesn't know how powerful she is anymore, now that she doesn't have the Flames of Regency associated with being the ruler of the Dark Dimension.
Strange then calls his brother, Victor, aka the current Baron Blood, hoping to cross the bat talon off right away, but he and Morgana Blessing aren't answering their phone. So Strange, Topaz, and Rintrah head to Colorado, where a string of cattle mutilations are being blamed on a werewolf (and per an introductory scene, we already know that Werewolf By Night is there).
They arrive near some cows, and Topaz wants to know if Rintrah finds them sexy. Rintrah responds that she, of all people, should know that he goes for humans, a reference to the gross scene from Doctor Strange #6.
Rintrah then notices Werewolf By Night and, apparently, his bull instincts get the best of him and he mindlessly attacks.
Eventually things settle down and they realize that the werewolf in question is Werewolf By Night, aka Jack Russell, who Topaz of course knows.
After Marvel Comics Presents #54-59, Jack is now fully integrated with his Werewolf form, and in control. It also turns out that his current look isn't a matter of artistic interpretation, it's due to the integration. He also tells Rintrah not to worry about getting lycanthropy because Jack can only pass on the curse if he means to.
Jack isn't responsible for the cattle mutilations. That turns out to be the work of aliens.
Dr. Strange knows these aliens. They are from Strange Tales #118. The cattle mutilations are part of a magical ritual that will open a portal to let the rest of their people invade.
The Possessors take control of Werewolf By Night, forcing him to kill one of the local hunters whose bodies they were using. After some body swapping...
...Dr. Strange takes care of business, sending the Possessors home.
Topaz gets her werewolf film. Jack takes his leave so that he can continue to help the werewolf-afflicted (it's said in a later lettercol that a solo series for him is being considered), and the rest head home.
Topaz's quest provides a simple structure for these and the next few issues, but it's fun. It's cool to see Roy Thomas drawing from way back in Dr. Strange's history, clearly always one of his strengths (although he goes a bit crazy in the Tales of Vishanti; see below). Where Thomas loses me is when he tries for humor; his puerile bull romance jokes come out of left field in an adventure story that is otherwise played straight.
Chris Marrinan's art is simple, almost amateurish at times, but it's more action oriented and flows better than Butch Guice's, so i find it to be an improvement.
I'm not going to be covering the Tales of the Vishanti back-ups in detail. But Thomas definitely is going for a unified theory of the Marvel universe with these stories, which nominally are about werewolves. They start with a wolf pack watching the Celestials fly into space, and then show that lycanthropy in the Marvel universe is a result of experiments by the aliens of Arcturus, the planet that was introduced in Morbius' Adventures Into Fear series and which Steve Englehart already tied in with the origin of the Cat People. Roy Thomas also ties the Arcturian Caretakes in with the fake Merlin and the Sphinx; they are "early mutations" that the Caretakers attempted, but they were too hard to control.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's noted that Strange left Clea some time to herself to adjust to no longer being the ruler of the Dark Dimension while he was in the "Arid Zone" (i.e. Arizona, per Rintrah) last issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showClea, Dr. Strange, Lord Leader, Mephista, Rintrah, Satannish, Topaz, Werewolf By Night, Wong
Just a note, fnord, we're getting pretty close to Strange's participation in Infinity Gauntlet- Clea wakes from her sleep at the end of this story in issue 30, and in issue 32, it's suggested that she's only been awake a few hours by the time she has to destroy Silver Dagger's Dagger in that issue. And we've still got Strange's guest appearances in Avengers 332-333 and Quasar to fit in before Infinity Gauntlet.
Posted by: Michael | September 15, 2015 6:28 PM
"So Strange, Clea, and Rintrah head to Colorado" Wait, I thought Michael just said Clea doesn't wake up until issue 30? And where does Topaz come from in the next paragraph? :P
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 15, 2015 6:50 PM
Michael, i think i intend to ignore that "suggestion"; i.e. she must have been awake longer than that. But i may adjust when i get to the issue.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 15, 2015 6:55 PM
So to paraphrase this issue's most important conversation...
Topaz: Hey Rintrah, bet you wanna fuck those cows.
Posted by: Mortificator | October 31, 2016 3:45 PM
The leader of the Posseessors, called "Lord Leader" in this story, is explicitly said to be the same leader in the first Posseessors story, the one who went one-on-one with Strange. Should he be tagged?
Posted by: Thanos6 | June 29, 2018 4:31 PM
Added Lord Leader, thanks Thanos6.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 16, 2018 4:13 PM
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