Doctor Strange #50-53
Issue(s): Doctor Strange #50, Doctor Strange #51, Doctor Strange #52, Doctor Strange #53
Dr. Strange follows Mordo...
...and finds himself in a tavern during World War II. Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos are there as well.
A barfight has broken out, but Strange has no time for that...
...so he casts a spell stopping the fight, cleaning everything up, and erasing everyone's memory of it (and there's a cute gag where the bartender gets in trouble for having called in the MPs because of the fight and now no fight exists. Strange eventually mystically clears that up as well). The spell even cleans up Nick Fury. There's a production note at the bottom of the page that shouldn't have made it into the final printing, informing the 'productions department' that stubble shouldn't be added to Nick Fury's face after Strange casts his spell.
Mordo seems to have dumped Blessing at the tavern. She's meant to serve as an anchor back to modern times, so he doesn't really need to drag her around, i guess. Strange leaves her under the care of Nick Fury's girfriend Lady Hawley, who is possibly Morgana's mystic twin, according to Strange. Fury and Dum Dum think Strange is loopy, of course.
Strange heads out after Baron Mordo, but finds himself facing Sir Anthony Baskerville and Viscount Heinrich Krowler.
Baskerville has previously appeared in the future as one of the mystics working for Dormammu and Mordo in Strange Tales #135. He's an Englishman, but a traitor and an ally of Hitler. Krowler is German, one of Hitler's occult experts. They are both working on birthing Dormammu into the world...
...and they're all using Mordo as a pawn, although he doesn't know it.
After a number of mystic battles and fights between the Howlers and the Nazi soldiers secretly stationed in Baskervilles' castle...
...Strange is able to defeat the evil mages with the help of the power of love! (It sounds silly but it works fine in the context of the story.)
But what Strange doesn't realize is that it's actually Morgana's love, not Clea's that empowers him. Stern's handling of the upcoming Clea/Strange break-up is being handled very well and very subtly by the standards of the comics we've seen to date. It's a nice angle that Stephen doesn't even realize what's happening.
There's a scene of Hitler marching around in his office, ranting wildly.
It reminds me of a similar scene in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #32, but i assume both scenes are based on Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator.
Strange wipes the memories of Nick Fury and the other Howlers at the end of these battles. He's always doing that!
Back in the present, Clea clues Strange in to Morgana's feelings. Strange dismisses Morgana's love as the false love a patient feels for her doctor. But Clea sensed that Morgana loves Strange more than she does. Strange still says that Morgana means nothing to him.
The discussion is interrupted by Morgana's parents and family doctor. Morgana is still in a coma after Mordo used her in his time traveling scheme, and, assuming Strange is a medical doctor, they enlist his help. Strange is then contacted by Nightmare (Nightmare is actually first shown at the start of issue #50 but then we get an extended flashback that covers this entire arc).
Mordo's machinations with Morgana's soul have caused a problem in the space-time fabric, and Strange has to go back in time to retrieve a portion of her soul.
He heads back in time to Morgana's past lives, and blows it the first couple of tries, making assumptions that Morgana's previous incarnations would act like she would, or that they would even be female.
I love this scene where Strange employs his physical martial arts abilities and also notes the fact that human beings have gotten progressively stronger in later ages.
Eventually he winds up at her first incarnation, in ancient Egypt. Interestingly, Morgana's first incarnation was a servant girl working for Rama-Tut, and Strange arrives during the Fantastic Four's visit to Rama-Tut's time.
Strange is in his astral form, so the FF can't see him, but there's some cute sequences where he unknowingly aids them.
Eventually he's able to contact Morgana's past incarnation and retrieve the soul fragment, but Morgana's incarnation is able to see him and she falls in love with him, which i suppose either explains Morgana's attraction or says that Morgana's soul is naturally attracted to Strange.
Strange rejects the advances of both Morgana's past incarnation and her present self when he returns and re-awakens her with her soul. But when he returns home, he finds that Clea has packed her bags and is leaving to lead the rebellion in the Dark Dimension that was first mentioned in Dr. Strange #49. She feels her love for Strange isn't strong enough, so she's not worthy of his love. He says it's nonsense but he can't convince her to stay.
Nice art on this entire arc.
Unfortunately, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin are moving on after this arc. Still, Roger Stern's writing is also great, and next up on art is Michael Gordon and Al Milgrom (after a semi-fill-in for issue #54).
Issue #53 has a little demon recap the events of the past few issues to Nightmare. Reminds me of more modern recap pages that have a character talking to you, although this is integrated into the story and the little demons actually appear throughout the issue.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The events of Dr. Strange #49 happened "yesterday". No Dr. Strange appearances should occur between the two issues. "Scarcely an hour" passes between issue #51 and #52. For what it's worth, Strange mentions that the FF have come from a time before he first met them. Which is accurate; Strange met the FF in Fantastic Four #27. But it's worth keeping in mind in case any continuity implants come along. The MCP places this between Defenders #105-106.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (12): show
Strange didn't mistakenly think that it was Clea's love and not Morganna's that empowered him- he didn't realize that when Clea channeled Morganna's love as part of the spell, she came to the conclusion that Morganna loved Strange more than she did.
Posted by: Michael | November 2, 2009 2:49 PM
Do you think Strange knows that it's Morganna's love that's being channeled? Do you think he's aware, at this point, that she's in love with him?
Posted by: fnord12 | November 2, 2009 3:03 PM
The title to #51 is some lyrics to the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 17, 2011 7:19 PM
Todd Macfarlane must have influenced by Marshall Rogers.
Posted by: a.lloyd | January 14, 2016 5:24 AM
I was about to say that Marshall Rogers seems like a precursor to Sam Kieth.
Posted by: FF3 | February 5, 2016 7:20 AM
Heinrich Krowler is probably a play on early 20th century "mystic" Aleister Crowley.
Posted by: Andrew | January 20, 2017 3:46 PM
This is one of my all-time favorite Dr. Strange story arcs. It helped draw me back into the Marvel fold after a time when I had avoided comics for about 10 years. No longer have these issues, but still remember the story surprisingly well after all this time. Trying to reconstruct the mystical device by which Strange follows Mordo back through time... seemed to recall that it involved a candle, but that was probably from a different story?
The above review and scans suggest that Mordo and Strange are tracing Morgana Blessing back through time via her previous incarnations. Pamela Hawley was a previous incarnation of Blessing's rather than a "mystic twin"... am I right? Was Nightmare the actual device which empowered Strange to travel through time? Wish I could remember... now I want to find copies of these comics again.
I don't buy the bit about Strange being the reason why Ben Grimm changes back to his unmutated form. FF #19 was written at a time when Grimm was spontaneously morphing back and forth every few issues anyway. Weren't there a couple of other sequences in which Strange seemed to intervene and cause events to occur in the original story from FF #19 which had previously been attributed to other causes? I seem to remember that there were, but can't recall the specifics anymore. Frustrating.
Posted by: Holt | November 8, 2017 3:28 AM
Yes, it was Nightmare who sent Strange back in time to the locations of Morgana's past lives.
Posted by: Michael | November 8, 2017 8:03 AM
Thanks Michael. The story where Strange travels to the past with the candle device was in http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/strange_tales_124.shtml
Posted by: Holt | November 8, 2017 9:33 AM
Sorry, I should have been more clear. First, Strange and Mordo don't trace Morgana back in time. Strange, Morgana, Clea and Mordo go back to World War II where they have a battle, as a result of the battle Morgana is rendered comatose and then Strange, Clea and Morgana return to the present. Then Strange goes back in time AGAIN to help Morgana.
Posted by: Michael | November 8, 2017 8:11 PM
I sorta get it, after reading through this entry a third time-- there were actually two time trips, or maybe three. Still feel a desire to track down these issues and read them through again for myself, 'tho' I've already read them many times over in my own long dead past. It's not a simple plot but multi-layered, and that's definitely part of its appeal. The art's another part. Love the crazy panel where what looks like a three-fingered version of Nightmare seems to be all dressed up for Halloween in an evil version of Strange's outfit. Good dreamy stuff-- I'm still crazy about Pamela Hawley, like I've been ever since she was killed off unexpectedly in the old Sgt. Fury series when I was a little boy, and it was really nice to see her again in this story. We'll never get to see her often enough but she really lives again in these pages.
Posted by: Holt | November 9, 2017 12:50 AM
I have been enjoying the art with Rogers and Austin lately, but I know that is about to come to a close. I never read this title growing up, so it's all-new to me.
Posted by: William Harrison | November 9, 2017 9:50 AM
In Fantastic Four #19, Pharaoh's consort's handmaiden was white. Then, almost twenty years later, in Doctor Strange #53, she was black. Nobody cared. Colorist's error.
Posted by: Holt | November 10, 2017 1:45 AM
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