Doctor Strange #57-59
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #57, Doctor Strange #58, Doctor Strange #59
...that Dr. Strange has no disciple. Everyone from nameless seekers...
...to Dr. Doom wind up hearing about it (Doom declines to pursue it because he's busy rebuilding his kingdom).
Of the many who arrive at Strange's doorstep, it's Jimaine Szardos, daughter of Margali, and also known as Nightcrawler's girlfriend Amanda Sefton, who is most successful at reaching him.
In response, Strange agrees to rent a hall and set up an audition for an apprentice. But when Strange refuses to train Sefton, her mother appears...
...and engages in battle with Strange.
He is able to defeat her by breaking the wand that is the source of her power.
It turns out that the wand was in fact possessing her and she is an ordinary (Romani) woman, not an other-dimensional Sorceress Supreme.
Amanda/Jimaine is depicted here as a straight haired brunette...
...whereas in the X-Men she's usually a curly haired blond, so i had to confirm online that this was indeed her, but it does seem to be the case. Despite the implication here, Amanda does continue to learn sorcery.
Strange traces the source of the news of his lack of a disciple back to the Aged Genghis and politely asks him to stop telling everyone.
Meanwhile, Clea plans a rebellion in the Dark Dimension. She and her fellow rebels hide from Umar by cleverly hiding within the realm of the Mindless Ones.
Back on Earth, Strange's personal assistant Sara Wolfe (who is developing romantic feelings for Wong)...
...receives a summons from the lawyer of her friend who was killed by the Eye Killers, the shape-shifters from when Strange first met Sara. Strange accompanies her to the lawyer's meeting place, to discover that the lawyer is in fact a vampire.
But he's a good vampire: the detective Hannibal King.
King is on the trail of Dracula...
...who has gotten mixed up with the cultists that summoned the shape-changers that killed Sara's friend. To that end, Dracula is seeking the magical book known as the Darkhold.
Strange and King fight the shape-shifters again...
...this time killing them. But the ultimate threat of Dracula and the Darkholders is not yet over.
Some nice downtime scenes in this "arc" (more like a couple of stories that blend together) as well, such as Dr. Strange just checking in on some surrounding dimensions...
...and Strange and Wong practicing their martial arts.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This story arc ties in tangentially with Avengers #234 before continuing with some members of the Avengers in Dr. Strange #60. There's a lot revolving around the Avengers at the same time, with this story, Iron Man's alcoholism, and the Fantastic Four Annihilus cross-over. So this arc is split to accommodate all of the concurrent activity. Another note - the Dr. Doom appearance in issue #57 is duplicated in Fantastic Four #258. That FF issue spans several months, so it's not necessary for Doctor Strange #57 and FF #258 to be placed concurrently. But in the FF issue, the duplicated scene is said to occur while the FF is recuperating from their fight with Gladiator and the Skrulls in Fantastic Four #249-250. So these Dr. Strange issues should ideally appear during a gap in FF appearances between Fantastic Four #250-251.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAged Genghis, Amanda Sefton, Clea, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, Dracula, Eye Killers, Hannibal King, James Mandarin, Margali Szardos, Morgana Blessing, Sara Wolfe, Umar, Wong
The Strange-Margali battle may be a response to the X-Men Annual, where we see Margali effortlessly remove Strange's Eye of Agamotto from him. That scene kinda bugged me when I first read it; since Dr. Strange went through all that struggle and fought all those other sorcerers to become and continue to be Sorcerer Supreme, then how come he'd felt no trace of Margali Szardos before?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2011 7:25 PM
Someone on the Dr.Strange staff must have loved their duplicated scenes- not only was the Doom scene duplicated but the Dracula scene in issue 59 was duplicated in Thor 332, which you don't have. So Thor 332 should take place concurrently with issue 59.(And further complicating things, Starfox appears in Thor 332 as well.)
Posted by: Michael | August 25, 2012 5:46 PM
#59 and Thor #332 were originally announced as a true crossover.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 20, 2013 5:30 PM
Stern's Doc Strange run is so good. I hold it second only to Ditko although some of the later Thomas and Englehart runs had their moments as well.
I liked how Dr Strange is respectful of the senile Genghis.
Posted by: Chris | January 21, 2013 12:02 AM
I can't look at that scene of Wong ambushing Mandarin without thinking of Clouseau and Kato. I suspect that was intentional, but who knows...
Posted by: Dan H. | October 6, 2015 1:11 PM
At the beginning of #57, Doctor Strange meets an annoying loudmouth who appears to be a send-up of Chris Claremont. Scott Montagu looks like Claremont and is an actor (Claremont started out wanting to be an actor), and his ladyfriend Bunni is into "the hocus-pocus stuff," as was Claremont's wife Bonnie Wilford. It's rather an unkind portrait, especially given that Stern is using several Claremont characters here (Margali Szardos, Amanda Sefton, Sara Wolfe, and the Eye-Killers).
Posted by: Tony Lewis | July 16, 2016 6:18 PM
@Tony Lewis If you want to see "unkind," you should check the X-Men vs Avengers thread, where Stern wants to undo Claremont's Magneto characterization and quits when his last issue plot is rejected. There's a lot of back biting that Claremont has to take, and "Scott & Bunni" are the least of it. I'm surprised Margali and Amanda survived, although Stern's attempt to depower them was a fair shot over the bow. Claremont could and did ignore it.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | July 17, 2016 4:14 AM
@Tony and Brian: Further evidence of Stern's axe to grind with Claremont came when he rejected his and Cockrum's pitch to reveal Nightcrawler's father as Nightmare, yet greenlit John Byrne's proposal to reveal Magneto as Wanda and Pietro's father in direct opposition to Chris's plans.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 17, 2016 5:06 AM
First off, that was not Cockrum's pitch, that was solely Claremont's. Secondly neither is that Byrne's proposal - it was Gruenwald/Grant's. I really can't tolerate Claremont fanboys who think he is a saintly figure who was constantly hounded and bullied by everyone else in the industry... and it seems when fnord is on downtime, that is all this site is.
And secondly, Roger Stern was goddamn right. Nightmare being Nightcrawler's dad is awful. It's the hacky sort of bollocks Claremont always puts forth. Nobody is normal, instead their bogged down with irrelevant nonsense that completely neuters the idea of mutant characters being the-underdog-who-could-be-you. Also, him stealing and co-opting another book's characters and making them X-Men villains despite none of it having any place within X-Men mythos at all.
And when Austen eventually did something similar, you all said it was crap, yet had Claremont done it you would've blindly praised it. You got your crap Nightcrawler Ancient gypsy magic wizard incest sorcerer crap from Claremont anyway. Let Doctor Strange have his arch-enemy, rather than moan that Claremont didn't get to steal him to tell some more of his same old stories.
And don't get me started on X-Men vs. Avengers and Magneto, it sincerely makes me want to thump everyone in the nose hard... Roger Stern is everything you all think Claremont is. He is an amazing writer, with long-term and short-term plans he sees through, who does layered stories, makes use of continuity and character relationships, and writes strong women. And unlike Claremont none of that is ever annoying, shambolic, monotone, irrelevant, gratingly transparent and go-nowhere.
Basically what I'm saying is, stop throwing shit at everyone else to make Claremont better by sympathy. "Oh, Roger Stern ruined all Claremont's stories", "Oh, Jim Shooter and Byrne ruined Dark Phoenix", "Oh, X-Factor ruined Claremont's plans for X-Men", "Oh, Bob Harras ruined the franchise by firing him". Seriously, piss off. The man has had a sum total of 20 years on the book, if you're still moaning that Claremont didn't do stories and saying how unfair it is he never got to resolve a plot point from X-Men #97, then you are deluded. He has no intention of ever resolving or doing these little stories you have built up in your head as amazing. Whereas Roger Stern wrote 3 issues of a 4 issue miniseries then basically got cockblocked by Claremont and never got to do the last issue. Had it been the other way around, god, would you be crying like babies.
Ugh, Claremont. UGH. Boils my blood.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 6:18 AM
And there I go probably getting banned from yet another site for a Claremont-based frenzy.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 6:19 AM
You all want to live in a world where Claremont is given complete autonomy of the Marvel Universe and no-one else is ever allowed to touch his toys and he is allowed to take everyone else's toys for himself regardless.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 6:29 AM
@AF: Calm yourself down as Paty herself told me in interview that Dave was the one who suggested Nightmare to Claremont.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 17, 2016 6:43 AM
Why is it that people only have to "calm down" when they hate something? If I had written that exact same thing but being praising Claremont, I would've been told "well said" or whatever.
And also fallacy: insisting on only the first point or a mistaken fact and then using it to invalidate everything else written.
The hypocrisy of Claremont fans.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 7:15 AM
My own sense is that there are a few threads to consider here. First, Nightcrawler was definitely Cockrum's creation, stemming from that rejected Legion of Super-Heroes spinoff that also produced the (very distant) original design for Storm and probably suggested the name "Tempest" for the Lightning Lad counterpart in the Imperial Guard. (And Fang came from the team of villains Cockrum had created to battle his "Outsiders;" for that matter, the Byrne introductions of Manta and Hussar look a lot like a couple of those villains too....)
Nightcrawler was originally created as a "demon from Hell;" Cockrum had come up with him back when he was still int he Navy. In his CX-Men appearances, per John Byrne and Claremont, Cockrum really "pushed" Nightcrawler to be the breakout character, giving him lots of extra powers and screentime.
Nightcrawler's proposed demonic heritage seems similar, and probably reflects Claremont collaborating with Cockrum to get Cockrum's ideas in print than anything else. Byrbe is ion record as being the co-plotter during his term with Claremont, and Cockrum was definitely a prolific character creator even at DC under the comparatively strict editorial control of Murray Boltinoff (about whose "rules" the less said, the better).
If this takes blame off of Claremont, it also takes credit away from him; the All-New, All-Different X-Men's formative years were very much a collaborative process, and a lot of what Tvtropes might call "Franchise Original Sins" in the series reflect the results of that collaboration more than they reflect Claremont going mad without editorial control. Cockrum, not Claremont, was the superstar creator in the early days, for one thing; why assume he had less influence than that suggests, especially given his ability to import his own concepts wholesale into the early team?
And Claremont never really stopped writing to his collaborators' strengths: the Bill Sienkiewicz issues of New Mutants are definitely written *with* Sienkiewicz* in many respects, with lots more hallucinatory and surreal sequences, and the entire gonzo Warlock and Magus stuff.
With the exception of the artist-writers who do it all, comics are far too collaborative a medium to support the auteur theory as easily as some fans (and some self-promoting writers or artists) want it to. Even Alan Moore, famous for his ultradetailed, multilayered scripts, has been very open about the amount of creative and plotting work his artistic collaborators have introduced to his work. Claremont isn't really that different; if anything, he wears his influences and those of his collaborators on his sleeve, especially in the first ten or so years of his X-books run.
* Hey, I always have to look up the spelling of his na e, so I'm gonna make it pay off!
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 17, 2016 7:24 AM
Hmmm...this was once an entry for a couple of issues of Doctor Strange, wasn't it?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 17, 2016 7:25 AM
Well, they were already moaning about Claremont and how XXXX creator is a bully and jerk for not letting him do whatever Claremont wanted yet again.
That's what 90% of the comments these days are.
People still talk about what some of Grant Morrison's X-Men really meant. Claremont? They just talk about how unfair it is and how everyone else is meticulously bullies with him in crosshairs of a rifle ensuring he can never ever tell a story properly.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 7:43 AM
Son to get back to *that*, Stern's run on Doctor Strange is arguably tied for first with Ditko's; he really "got" Strange in a way few other writers do. Yes, the Engelhart stuff in the 70s was appealingly trippy and had big concepts, but by the end I think it took Strange too far from the vibe of eerie, seedy shadow-worlds and the down-to-Earth sensibility Ditko brought in.
More damningly, it made Strange one of those absurdly powerful characters who has to be conked on the head or depowered to function in most stories; Ditko's Strange was a man of serious limits who won by using his wits and sometimes even his fists.
Stern's particular genius was to ground Strange's stories again, but without overtly dialing back all of his character and power development int he 1970s. This sequence of issues is a good example of that: while Strange is powerful, he still moves in a world of other powerful forces, and while his powers are versatile, his real strength is his dedication and his ability to marshal his resources wisely.
But along with this comes a sense that even the cosmic mages are still human: the Aged Genghis's senility, borrowed fro the Ditko era, here becomes a clever way to show that great mystical power and influence are not guarantors of victory or even competence, and that even an immortal sorcerer has a number of mortal frailties. Cleverly, Stern juxtaposes this with another immortal, Dracula, who has achieved his power at the cost of his soul and his humanity.
But it is this, ultimately, that allows Strange to outwit and defeat Dracula; in the end, Dracula's great power comes at the price of serious psychological weaknesses as well as his one remaining mystical vulnerability. Ultimately, the resolution of this vampire story will hinge on that, highlighting the way Hannibal King refused to sacrifice his own humanity in the way Dracula did. Stern gets a "cosmic, world-shaking" ending, but one that grounds Strange rather than playing up his unearthly nature and power.
The Margali storyline strikes me as something similar: maybe being a vastly powerful, quasi-demonic mystic isn't all it's cracked up to be, and might be bad for you. Strange doesn't defeat Margali because he's more powerful; he beats her by figuring out what's *really* going on. Her defeat is played up as a restoration of her humanity, not as a humiliation.
Now, Stern is arguing against Claremont here, but not int he way some of you think. Claremont is very invested in the idea of surpassing the limits of normal humanity. In some ways,t his works really well for the X-Men, fitting its themes of evolution and difference, and its more generally anti-normative stance. But a side effect is that in Claremont's stories the way marginalized people survive and surpass is by leaving conventional humanity behind entirely: it's a recurring theme in his stories, from Phoenix and Storm's respective godhoods to Margali to Illyana, Dani, and Kitty in .
In a Claremont story, you win by leaving the mundane world and its pettiness and prejudice behind, thought hat's a narrow path to walk and produces as many cosmic destroyers and scummy manipulators -- people who get all that power and transcendence and just turn around and use it to try to own the normal world or burn it down instead of slipping free of it entirely.
In a Roger Stern, story, though, you win by getting back in touch with your humanity, by gaining direct empathy for the people around you, and b y hanging on to who you are no matter what. It's what makes him such an able successor to Ditko on Doctor Strange, where the risk for writers is always that they will take the character off into the stratosphere and make the plots and themes utterly arbitrary. And it's what makes him one of the best Spider-Man and Avengers writers around. Those are books that really only work if you write the main characters as regular joes with regular-joe problems, folks who don;t get to slip the surly bonds of convention and society and become cosmic outsiders.
But it's also why he and Claremont probably wouldn't get along too well, and why they probably couldn't just swap franchises and be happy. and successful. Claremont generally writes the Avengers as heavies and Strange as self-important; Stern, in turn, tends to write the "new" X-Men and their associates as a bunch of brash contrarians or knee-jerk anti-authoritarians playing with fire.
And, well, they'd have to, wouldn't they? There's no great Claremont Avengers story for the same reason there's no great Roger Stern X-Men story. And on Doctor Strange, I'd say Stern was an effective long-term writer, while Claremont was, frankly, at his most self-indulgent, precisely because of the peculiar balance this character and concept needs to maintain. (It's also why folks like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison would be *terrible* Spider-Man writers, why Claremont is at his least Claremont-y whenever he writes Spidey in Marvel Team-Up, and why Bendis is so awful on big event storylines and on books like Guardians of the Galaxy)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 17, 2016 7:50 AM
Two additional notes:
* Avengers Annual #10 will probably come up here. It's not a great Avengers story, even thought it's a great story. It's more a necessary Avengers story after the godawful, offensive, character-destroying mess that was Avengers #197-200.
* It's probably illustrative to compare Stern's development of the Wasp to Claremont's development of Kitty Pryde. Stern's Wasp is someone who finds a balance; Claremont's Kitty is someone who becomes or is special in all sorts of ways -- she's a tech wizard, she's the heir to the Soulsword, she's a ninja -- and winds up a destined, dimension-hopping avatar of the cosmic mutant future.
Or, for that matter, their uses of Clea. Claremont's solution to the Clea problem, the apprentice who's also a lover and all the skeeziness that entails, is to suggest repeatedly that she's a being of vast power, one capable of outdoing Strange in some instances but also capable of becoming a cosmic destroyer like Dormammu (as shown in Claremont's MTU 2-parter with Silver Dagger and Marie Leveau).
Stern's solution is to introduce a more grounded love interest for Strange and have Clea become more so what she was introduced and developed as: a Dark Dimension freedom fighter who's secretly the heir to the throne. Clear has a real struggle wiuth Umar, wins, and finds her own role and struggles; Strange moves on to a love interest who isn't his student.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 17, 2016 8:02 AM
"It's probably illustrative to compare Stern's development of the Wasp to Claremont's development of Kitty Pryde. Stern's Wasp is someone who finds a balance; Claremont's Kitty is someone who becomes or is special in all sorts of ways -- she's a tech wizard, she's the heir to the Soulsword, she's a ninja -- and winds up a destined, dimension-hopping avatar of the cosmic mutant future."
Mate, you made my point for me.
Posted by: AF | July 17, 2016 8:06 AM
I think specifically in relation to this issue there's something else at work- in X-Men Annual 4, Margali was portrayed as equally powerful, if not more so, than Strange. She could even command the Eye of Agamatto against Strange's wishes. That seemed inconsistent with the concept of the Sorcerer Supreme. And to top it off, Strange seemed unaware of her. I think Claremont's idea is that just as there was a Sorcerer Supreme, there was also a *Sorceress Supreme*- and for some reason the Ancient One never told Strange this?
Posted by: Michael | July 17, 2016 9:26 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|