Archive for July, 2011

Strange Tales #123: Dr. Strange

July 30, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
August 1964
B-story: ****
Stan brings Strange into the greater Marvel Universe (his linewide goal in mid-’64) by guesting the Gods of Asgard in Strange Tales—a good fit as both they & Strange are rooted in magic. In a coruscating duel, the Doc is outmatched by Loki, Thor’s evil brother. He only barely escapes w/ his life!
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #122]
[next issue: Strange Tales #124]

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Strange Tales #122: Dr. Strange

July 29, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
July 1964
B-story: ****
As Kirby thrusts his readers thru the cosmos over in FF, here in Strange Ditko is drawing us into mind-space. The Doc is trapped in the Nightmare Dimension, whose surreal shapes & fetid colors may induce nausea! Ditko’s art lifts this simple Silver Age tale whose set-up outdoes its solution.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #121]
[next issue: Strange Tales #123]

Strange Tales #121: Dr. Strange

July 28, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
June 1964
B-story: ****
Mordo returns to shanghai Strange’s body while his soul is away, leaving the Doc w/ 24 hours to reunite himself or fade away. Tho’ Ditko falls back on a ho-hum 2×3 grid, his tale has an elegant simplicity: no preposterous deathtraps to undermine this tight duel, no sudden spell to slip the noose.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #120]
[next issue: Strange Tales #122]

Strange Tales #120: Dr. Strange

July 25, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
May 1964
B-story: ****
The Doc’s page count creeps up to 9 per ish. The plot has Strange guest in a ’50s weird tale: a TV crew films at a haunted house, not knowing the house itself is alive! Our hero rises like a Promethean above the skeptical, unruly mob, & uses his third eye/amulet to banish the house from this plane.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #119]
[next issue: Strange Tales #121]

Strange Tales #119: Dr. Strange

July 24, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
April 1964
B-story: ***
Plotwise, this episode follows Dr. Strange on a fairly standard mystical adventure into hell (the Purple Dimension, so called cuz it’s entered via a violet gem) to defeat a tyrant. But the Doc shows unalloyed heroism as he rescues a pair of robbers & wins out against stronger foe w/ his courage.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #118]
[next issue: Strange Tales #120]

Strange Tales #118: Dr. Strange

July 23, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
March 1964
B-story: ***
Aliens invade Bavaria from a nearby dimension, where they face the Doc. Their MO looks like magic (possession, astral bodies) but it’s SF & so a bit out of place here. Also, Strange has none of the complexity that the best Marvelites possess: he’s a simple hero, brimming w/ confidence & competence.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #117]
[next issue: Strange Tales #119]

Strange Tales #117: Dr. Strange

July 19, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
February 1964
B-story: ****
Strange gets a mention on the cover but not a pic. Inside, he runs thru the conventional Doc plot as his fraternal rival Mordo once again strikes at their mentor. As Strange’s weird Village apt building vanishes into another dimension, it suggests that his arcane world lies just beyond our own NYC.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #116]
[next issue: Strange Tales #118]

Strange Tales #116: Dr. Strange

July 18, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
January 1964
B-story: *****
Few visions are as disturbing as a Ditko Dimension. It’s an unstable, Dali-esque environment where solids flow into infinity & monstrous things creep. Chanting incantations, the Doc conjures an ectoplasmic gate into this domain to shine his amulet upon Nightmare itself (a ringer for Gaiman’s Dream).
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #115]
[next issue: Strange Tales #117]

Strange Tales #115: Dr. Strange

July 17, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
December 1963
B-story: *****
Strange earns an origin story—one of the era’s best. Once a true MD, the arrogant doc was brought low by a car crash then purged of egotism on an Indian pilgrimage. The story offers a real arc that rejects Western values, a/w/a weird spells, loops of mystic energy, & crazy Marvel names (Dormammu!).
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #114]
[next issue: Strange Tales #116]

Strange Tales #114: Dr. Strange

July 16, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
November 1963
B-story: ****
His trial run a success, the Marvel mystic returns to Strange Tales for another 5-page plot. Lee & Ditko also bring back Doc Strange’s rival, the sloe-eyed Baron Mordo, for another mental duel, but fail to enrich either character. Still, that lock-step 3×3 grid & gothic atmo make Strange unique.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue: Strange Tales #111]
[next issue: Strange Tales #115]

Strange Tales #111: Dr. Strange

July 15, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
August 1963
C-story: ****
It’s warlock v. warlock as the Doc faces his evil counterpart, a heavy named Baron Mordo. It would be a standard slugfest except that Ditko adds grace to their astral grappling. Their white silhouettes tumble thru a 3×3 grid; the surreal beauty sets Strange apart from any contempo superhero.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[last issue:  Strange Tales #110]
[next issue: Strange Tales #114]

Strange Tales #110: Dr. Strange

July 13, 2011

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
July 1963
C-story: ****
Ditko brings great art to this brief (5 pages) debut of Marvel’s main mage. The plot’s a bit of psychic psychiatry: an astral trip into a client’s nightmare uncovers a guilty conscience. But the Doc’s Asian looks & costume, his Village apt., & the hallucinatory dream symbolism make it truly strange.
[A-story: The Human Torch]
[next issue: Strange Tales #111]

Dark Reign: The List – The Avengers #1 of 1

July 2, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Marko Djurdjevic
November 2009
****

Bendis has written variations on the nerd question, “Why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker?” but he’s usually fumbled the ball. He finally gets it right in this cash-grab, staging the Avengers’ debate on the ethics of assassination & the death penalty. Then Hawkeye goes rogue to kill Norman Osborn.

also indexed for Nov. ’09
The Fantastic Four #571