Doctor Strange #51
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #51
He's approached by some people that give him a pamphlet advertising a cult. Rintrah decides to investigate. He finds the cult in a derelict church, and tries to pose as the demon that they are summoning.
But the cult priestess, Calyxis, recognizes right away that he's not what she was going for.
The real demon then shows up.
Calyxis begs the demon to not eat Rintrah. She instead has another use for him.
The next day, protestors show up at Doctor Strange's house, complaining about the "horned demon" that they've captured. Strange finds that the protestors are being mind controlled. He investigates, and winds up at the cult's church. He gets into a brief fight with a mind-controlled Rintrah, which makes him vulnerable to a sneak attack by Calyxis, who puts a device on his head that paralyzes him. Then Calyxis summons the real demon, Tartessus.
Tartessus has no interest in Calyxis, and violently brushes her aside on its way to suck Strange's face.
Strange is helpless, but Calyxis doesn't like being abandoned, so she wakes up Rintrah, who frees Strange. Strange and Rintrah are then able to trap the demon in its own dimension. But then Rintrah decides to smash the talisman that Calyxis used to summon it in the first place, and the result leaves Rintrah... paralyzed? injured? dead?
As the next issue blurb indicates, this isn't something that will get followed up on in the next story. All we'll learn is that Strange has sent "Rintrah's shielded remains to another domain for temporary safe keeping". "Remains" plus "grieving" does seem to indicate that Rintrah is dead. And this is his last appearance, at least according to the MCP. He doesn't even get a funeral with a visit from his former master, Enitharmon. A very weird and abrupt ending for the character, especially after last year's Dr. Strange annual #2 went through the trouble of giving Rintrah Dr. Strange's original amulet and cloak. The Doctor Strange books have always had a bad track record of doing anything with Strange's apprentices (i.e. Clea), and i can see that Rintrah is a weird character that probably not everyone liked. But it would have been easy enough to have him "graduate" after getting the amulet and cloak and letting him go off to do his own thing, not too different from how Dr. Strange acted in his early issues: still with ties to the Ancient One but not necessarily hanging around him all day. I can also see saving killing Rintrah off for some big storyline. Or, similarly, if there was a set-up of Rintrah repeatedly not listening to Strange which culminated in him smashing the talisman against Strange's orders, maybe in a way that causes Strange to doubt his teaching ability going forward. But the demon here is a one-off, and the death doesn't feel like a conclusion to anything. It feels random. And, in fact, inconclusive. Having read this issue and the brief bit at the beginning of the next one, i still wasn't sure that Rintrah was dead. (And even after checking the internet i'm still not 100% sure - at the time of writing, Wikipedia's entry on Rintrah ends with the fight against Urthona and Marvel's wiki doesn't go much further, ending with the team-up with Ghost Rider to fight Zodiak. I know he's a minor character, but i didn't think he was that minor! You'd think his "death" would be chronicled somewhere.)
I noted in the last entry that Geof Isherwood had become the consistent writing credit (i.e., he gets credited as writer, sometimes with co-writers). I thought the idea of an artist being the main driving force on a Doctor Strange book would be cool, and i still do. And i guess wrapping a story around a big face sucking demon is the sort of thing you might expect from a writer-artist on Doctor Strange. But it also occurs to me that Isherwood might be executing on editorially driven storylines. Last arc set up Secret Defenders. This one gets rid of Rintrah. The next two arcs are crossovers. It's like Roy Thomas got moved to Secret Defenders and Mike Rockwitz couldn't find a replacement or didn't think he needed to in a hurry, since there were plots for Isherwood to draw already.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 109,514. Single issue closest to filing date = 131,750.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted in the entry for last issue, this begins more or less concurrently with the previous arc. It starts off taking place "Last night" while Strange is still out with the "Defenders". Warlock & the Infinity Watch #14, which features a cameo by Dr. Strange and Rintrah, should take place before this. Even though this issue ends with what feels like a cliffhanger for Rintrah, next issue begins with Strange waking up from a Nightmare related to the crossover with Morbius #8-9. But Secret Defenders #1-3 also takes place concurrently with that crossover, and i've got that next.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The 2007 "Mystic Arcana" series has Ian McNee note at one point that Rintrah is getting ready to awaken from his 'death,' but as far as I can tell, that's never been followed up on.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 14, 2016 2:36 PM
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