Strange Tales #130-144 (Dr. Strange)
Issue(s): Strange Tales #130, Strange Tales #131, Strange Tales #132, Strange Tales #133, Strange Tales #134, Strange Tales #135, Strange Tales #136, Strange Tales #137, Strange Tales #138, Strange Tales #139, Strange Tales #140, Strange Tales #141, Strange Tales #142, Strange Tales #143, Strange Tales #144 (Dr. Strange stories only)
"The defeat of Dr. Strange"
Picking up threads of Dr. Strange's encounters with both Baron Mordo and Dormammu, this story has the two Teaming-Up (or more accurately, Mordo becoming a lackey of Dormammu).
In the course of the story the Ancient One is badly injured...
...and Dr. Strange is forced on the run, hunted by Mordo's shadowy wraiths and other evil sorcerers.
He eventually seeks the aid of Eternity...
...but gains no power from him.
While Strange was seeking Eternity, he visits a woman who he apparently helped in the past. We don't learn her name, and we never get that story that the footnote promises, as far as i know.
Clea keeps Dormammu distracted by releasing the Mindless Ones.
This epic story deserves full color trade paperback treatment. The art is wild and complex and looks beautiful when colored properly.
In addition to Eternity, this arc introduces a number of new minor characters, including the Aged Genghis...
...the treacherous mage Sir Baskerville...
...and extra-dimensional sorceress named Shazana...
...and the minions of Baron Mordo. We've actually seen one before: the Demon (aka Demonicus), from Strange Tales #128. Oddly, Strange simply refers to him as "One of Mordo's mystic demons".
The other two are new. They are unnamed in this arc, but one is eventually given the name Kaecilius (the guy on the right with the handlebar mustache)...
...and the other, initially posing as a male, turns out to be a female named Adria.
According to the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Kaecilius is simply "Mordo's Disciple" in this arc, and Adria is unnamed but is later referred to as 'the Witch' in a Marvel index.
Strange wipes the magical memories of all three of these characters.
Towards the end of this arc, we also meet a strange minion of Dormammu called Asti.
The arc ends with Mordo disgraced and banished by Dormammu to a distant dimension for his failure. Dormammu himself is defeated by Strange and forced to reinforce his oath not to attack Earth's dimension.
Dormammu does discover that it was Clea who released the Mindless Ones, and he holds her prisoner as a way to continue to torment Dr. Strange while keeping his vow.
Dormammu's last act here is to use Asti to lure Strange to the twilight kingdom of the shape-shifting Tazza.
Tazza stands among the frozen bodies of his previously defeated foes, and Strange uses his astral form to animate their bodies. Note also that Tazza invokes Satannish. It's the first use of that name.
Strange is able to defeat Tazza and force him to release his prisoners.
Overall, it's quite an epic. A bit rambling and unfocused at times, but it's probably the most ambitious multi-part story that we've seen to date, and Lee and Ditko lay a lot of crazy concepts and designs on us.
In issue #132, Clea addresses her father, Orini (not yet named; for that matter, Clea isn't actually named yet either). This is the first time we've seen him, but he'll be tied back to the guy in issue #126 with the triangular mask. He's normally drawn with a beard.
While the Ancient One is weak during this story, he's left in the care of "a dedicated Tibetan hermit". The hermit isn't named until issue #141, when we see that he's called Hamir.
This character may or may not have been intended to be the same manservant that we've seen attending the Ancient One going back to Strange Tales #111, but it seems like he's retroactively considered the same character, and he'll turn out to be Wong's father.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Because it's such a long continuous story we are running into the next year but since it is such a self-contained story it fits fine anywhere in this era.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Doctor Strange Classics #1, Doctor Strange Classics #2, Doctor Strange Classics #3, Doctor Strange Classics #4, Essential Dr. Strange vol. 1
Inbound References (17): show
This is the highlight of the superb Ditko Dr Strange run. Everything just works.
Posted by: Chris | August 2, 2012 11:04 PM
Wait Mordo voted for this series to succeed? Well...I guess with such a small mystic realm in Marvel at the time, it's cancellation would have made him forgotten as well.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 25, 2013 3:20 PM
Funny story about that. It originally said by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. But Ditko objected that he never voted for it, so Stan changed it to Baron Mordo.
This is according to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 25, 2013 3:33 PM
The art on this is really fantastic. This was one of the storylines they really played up in the later issues of Marvel Saga, so I remember seeing a lot of these panels there.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 29, 2014 8:56 PM
The Crimson Bands are initially shown as a BINDING spell, yet here in Strange Tales #143 Doc called on them to reveal where his cloak and amulet were, so not just for binding!
So what's the deal with this "Cyttorak" energy; flexible enough to bend around someone, then unbreakable enough to bind them but also able to "reveal"? And just what is meant by "reveal", does the energy uncover, enable one to see through a masking spell, just what?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 15, 2015 7:18 PM
An Englishman named Baskerville living on the foggy moors...cute, Stan.
Posted by: Robert | February 20, 2016 6:33 PM
In anticipation of the forthcoming Doc Strange movie (starring Benedict Cumberbatch, no less), I decided to brush up on this saga and all the preceding "Strange Tales" stories. Have them collected in the miniature two-volume Pocket Books reprint from 1979.
It's compelling, esp. when placed in historical context, even if there are many moments when the storytelling leaves much to be desired. One highlight is that whole intense episode devoted to Strange just trying to probe the comatose Ancient One's mind, which has many dangerous subconscious defenses. It's so odd, though, how through this whole thing Clea is never even named. Denny O'Neil would finally christen her a couple of issues later. Wish the Pocket Books reprint included those final two issues that Ditko drew.
And that's the heart of the matter here, of course: Ditko's psychedelic art. For me, the apex of his work is the issue "If Eternity Should Fail!" (first appearance of Eternity).
Ditko's work was, of course, hugely influential as an alternative to Kirby (and brought more of an Eisner influence to Marvel, as Ditko was inspired by his work in his youth ... but here it's like Eisner crossed with Dali). It's easy to see what, for instance, Starlin took from him, such as the general approach to drawing trippy, surreal extradimensional spaces. You can identify some more specific borrowings, too. Clea's fetching webbed leggings turn up in green as part of Gamora's skimpier bodysuit. Later, the garb of the DC character The Weird seems closely modeled on the outfits of Mordo's wraiths, who also have a similar habit of floating through walls. And Strange's final foe here, the shape-shifting Tazza, seems to anticipate the uncanny Mass from "Dreadstar," who likewise sprouts wings, tentacles, whatever and has a habit of enveloping foes.
I can't resist noting that the young Roy Thomas writes that some water Strange plunges into is "below freezing." Hey, Lee was still the editor.
But you forgive all (or at least a lot) for the best panels, like the one reprinted above under the heading "He eventually seeks the aid of Eternity..." And if you had to pick an iconic portrait of Stephen Strange, you could certainly do worse than the one on the bottom right of p. 7 of that same issue (#138). If the movie can capture some of this style, I'll probably be happy.
Posted by: Instantiation | March 22, 2016 10:11 PM
Engage no-prize mode.
Posted by: Benway | March 22, 2016 11:41 PM
Yeah, pretty likely explanation, esp. given that it was a city water tank. ;-)
Posted by: Instantiation | March 30, 2016 11:45 AM
I was wondering if this Kaecilius who is going to be the main villain in the Doctor Strange movie had appeared in the actual comic books. It's weird to find out that he's only a briefly-glimpsed lackey of Baron Mordo.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 26, 2016 1:01 PM
This whole cycle of stories was truly epic and showed the unbelievable scope of the world that Strange was trying to protect ours from. Ditko's work here was in my opinion the finest of his career and the concept of Eternity is wild.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 31, 2016 8:25 PM
Probably not worth adding him in but considering the movie, I would also probably mention Kaecilius in the importance.
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 5, 2016 10:52 PM
Watched the movie last night. I was wondering where Kaecilius came from. Pangborn seems to be completely new, though he may be named after Edgar Pangborn, the old fantasy writer.
Posted by: Andrew | November 6, 2016 9:20 AM
Nice work here by Ditko. My only real complaint is that I'd rather have seen Doc outsmart Dormammu rather than sort of win by dumb luck. Doc really only triumphs here because Dormammu is arrogant/dumb enough to choose to fight him in a test of hand to hand skill rather than of mystic might.
Posted by: intp | September 23, 2017 12:30 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|