It’s almost Easter and I’m organizing some of my collection. I unearthed my copy of “Origins of Marvel Comics” by Stan Lee. As I touched the cover, I was immediately awash in some fun Easter memories from 1977. What’s the connection? Well, read on…
When I was a little monster, my Godmother/Aunt Mary brought me a pad of drawing paper and pastels, with a most amazing book, called “Origins of Marvel Comics” for Easter. This is the first in a series of Marvel Fireside books, which includes “Son of Marvel Origins,” “Bring on the Bad Guys,” “The Superhero Women” and more.
“Origins of Marvel Comics” was a great introduction to the first wave of Marvel heroes for a younger reader. The book includes reprints of the Silver Age debuts of The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk , Doctor Strange and The Mighty Thor. Then, fast forwards to some tasty Bronze Age material.
Read with delight as the FF first gain their cosmic powers and battle Mole Man, to the issue 55 showdown between the Thing and Silver Surfer.
Swing on a web to Spider-Man’s debut in “Amazing Fantasy” 15, and get a jolt from his battle with the Shocker in Amazing Spider-Man 72. Thor gets introduced in “Journey into Mystery” 83, against Stone Men from Saturn. He comes back in the Bronze Age offering of “The Mighty Thor ” 143. He teams up with Balder the Brave and Lady Sif against the Enchanters! Doctor Strange has his origin laid out for you in “Strange Tales” 115, then POOF! there he is in a strip from 155. The sorcerer didn’t get his own mag until a little later and had to share his first comic book home with Nick Fury. Wonder who the goldbrick was?
This was an “EGG-scelent ” Easter treat, and as you can see from the photo of Aunt Mary and I, I have the book in my grubby little hands! The photo was taken in front of Grandma Kaizer’s house and there are many more photos like it of my sisters and I, our cousins and more. It was an Easter family tradition to go to Grandma’s where she cooked her “Dupa”and Babushka off and fed the waves of family all day on Easter Sunday. All the Polish food you could think of. Grandpa would play jazz on the piano and smoke cigars. Then, we’d head outside and pose at that exact same spot for photos. That tradition carried on for at least three or four decades and Easter Sunday at Grandma’s was always a great time and now a great memory.
I Hope Peter Cottontail brings you chocolate and something to make you say, ” EGGcelsior!!”
When it comes to the many comic book heroes and villians that Marvel Comics have produced over the years. Dr. Strange is certainly one of my favorite characters. I think that is pretty evident in the light of how many Super Blog Team-Up articles I’ve written over the years.
But what makes Dr. Strange such a personal favorite of mine? My go to answer is that he is a deeply flawed character. This is evident in the works of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee back in 1963, with the origin story in issue Strange Tales #115. Which as a matter of fact was his fourth appearance in the comic series.
Before becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange was a brilliant surgeon. Earning large sums of money for his skills and combined with his equally impressive egotism – frequently turned a blind eye to the needy.
Stephen Strange learns how the other shoe fits when he loses control of his car and crashes. While his life is indeed saved, his hands are ruined and his career as a surgeon is over. Strange’s ego refuses to let himself give up on the notion his hands might be fixed. Burning through his resources, chasing down any procedure that might heal him. To no avail. Which eventually leads him to travel to Tibet where he becomes the pupil to the Ancient One.
All things considered while on the negative side, Stephen can’t repair his hands. On the positive side however he does replace the Ancient One, donning the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto. Becoming Dr. Strange – the Sorcerer Supreme!
This origin of course is more or less covered in the excellent 2016 film adaptation of Dr. Strange. Which is available right this second on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. With the movie debuting on Blu-Ray this coming Tuesday the 28th.
For Marvel Studios first foray into the magic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe they chose their cast wisely. I mean can you truly say that Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t the perfect choice to play Dr. Strange?
Coupled with that you have the acting talents of the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity), Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes), Tilda Swinton (Adaptation.), Benedict Wong (The Martian) and of course Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale)!
Dr. Strange manages to blend humor, thrills, and more importantly – delivers on the psychedelic visuals of the original comic books. All the while opening the Marvel Cinematic Universe wider – ushering in the supernatural elements present in the comics.
Of course Dr. Strange on Blu-Ray manages to pack in the bonus extras:
A Strange Transformation – Open your eye to a new dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and see how the filmmakers brought one of comic books’ greatest characters to life.
Strange Company – Find out what it’s like for the cast to work on a Marvel film, and how Director Scott Derrickson engineered one of the most ambition, imaginative films ever.
The Fabric of Reality – Take a closer look at the movie’s extraordinary sets, meticulously crafted costumes and amazingly detailed production elements.
Across Time and Space – Explore the endless hours of dance and fight choreography the actors endured in preparation for their physically demanding roles.
The Score-cerer Supreme – Join composer Michael Giacchino and a full orchestra during live recording sessions, and experience the movie’s mind-bending music.
Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look – Get an early peek at Marvel’s spectacular upcoming films, including MARVEL STUDIOS’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, THOR: RAGNAROK, BLACK PANTHER and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.
Team Thor: Part 2 – See more of the hilarious partnership between Thor and his roommate Darryl in this satirical short.
There is without a doubt some talented cosplay going on in this day and age. Whether it be for popular video game, anime, or comic book characters. It’s easy to do a quick search online and find all levels of talent.
Now if we are to go by the information provided by Wikipedia, cosplay has in fact been around for quite some time! ” A.D. Condo’s science fiction comic character Mr. Skygack, from Mars was the subject of costuming in 1908 in the United States. Science fiction fans Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas attended the 1939 1st World Science Fiction Convention in the Caravan Hall, New York, USA dressed in “futuristicostumes”, including green cape and breeches, based on the pulp magazine artwork of Frank R. Paul, designed and created by Douglas.”
You might happen to recall my post from last year about vintage cosplay. Featuring 1963 photos from WorldCon with the Lord of the Rings‘ Gollum. As well as John Carter of Mars‘ Tars Tarkas.
Images courtesy of the Vintage Geek Culture Tumblr.
Of course of late there has been an upswing in the amount of Dr. Strange cosplay. Thanks in no small part to the success of the 2016 film starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
But the other night I was sent a photo by one of my best friends. An image from the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society site – a photo from 1973 taken by Dik Daniels. Showcasing an earlier cosplayer taking on the mantle of Marvel Comics’ Sorcerer Supreme, the one and only Dr. Strange!
Image courtesy of Dik Daniels – Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.
Really an amazing bit of cosplay, I think you will agree. Be that as it may – the identity of the cosplayer is unknown. I would highly recommend you follow that link to the LASFS page. You can in fact check out a lot more photographs by Dik Daniels including this one. That is The Time Machine‘s George Pal as well as his Wife – the name of the fan is unknown.
Like a mystic summons to Dr. Strange the call has been sent out. Once again it is time for the myriad blogs relating to comics to join forces. The Super-Blog Team Up is here to educate and entertain the masses. This go around the subject is…Magic!
Dr. Strange is set to hit theaters this Friday, November 4th. For the most part it is Marvel’s salvo in opening wide the doors of a barrier they have kept closed. Chiefly the realms of Magic and their practitioners in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I realize that without having seen Dr. Strange for myself yet – my statement might be incorrect. They may in fact present a different way to look at magic from the comic books. For one thing, I would point out they followed that very path in Thor from 2011.
However if Marvel is indeed delivering movie goers their first glimpse of how magic works. I think they totally have chosen the right character to help make those introductions. Namely Dr. Stephen Victor Strange…the Sorcerer Supreme!
I am willing to bet honest money that Benedict Cumberbatch will be absolutely smashing as Stephen Strange. By and large I do realize that is a given. I also know it’s not a great secret but we shouldn’t forget that Benedict is not the first actor to portray Strange in a live action film.
How Peter Hooten became Dr. Strange!
In 1978, thanks to the popularity of CBS’ The Incredible Hulk television series. Producer Philip DeGuere was given the go ahead to create a TV movie pilot for the Sorcerer Supreme. I think it’s pretty evident that DeGuere was a fan of the character as he wrote and directed the film.
Of course he based the premise on the character created by Stan Lee and artist extraordinaire Steve Ditko. Strange made his first appearance fittingly enough in Strange Tales #110 which was published in July of 1963. In fact Lee has gone on record giving the lion’s share of credit to Strange’s creation to Ditko. However the writer has also pointed out the character’s flowery speech was due to the early 30s old time radio series Chandu the Magician.
Not to mention that Stan Lee served as a consultant on the 1978 film.
So what is the movie about?
In a nutshell the 1978 Dr. Strange introduces our protagonist who is now a successful psychiatrist instead of a surgeon. Strange (Peter Hooten) finds his world-view expanded when he becomes embroiled in ages old battle between good and evil. The Nameless One has tasked Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walters) to destroy the current Sorcerer Supreme, Lindmer (John Mills). To accomplish this Morgan possesses Clea Lake (Eddie Benton) who attacks Lindmer but is unsuccessful in her attempt to kill the older man. Being Sorcerer Supreme has its advantages to be sure – not the least being able to call on his good friend and aide Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to help heal him.
Clea though is having horrible psychic trauma from having been possessed. Which is how she becomes a patient to Dr. Stephen Strange. Lindmer contacts the young man and gives rather cryptic advice that medicine along won’t be able to cure Clea. Having exhausted all of his talents he decides to pat a visit to Lindmer. Which is how Strange learns he is destined to protect the Earth from numerous threats originating from places of darkness.
I hate to say that it didn’t do well. At all. Perhaps the re-runs of the hugely popular Roots mini-series on ABC had something to do with it. At the same time the audiences of the day probably weren’t ready for the subject matter of Dr. Strange. Which is truly a shame because while it most certainly has that 70’s cheese it is well acted, well written, and quite frankly a lot of fun.
I might be in the minority with that viewpoint but at least you can find out for yourself. As it was released on DVD the other day – from our friends at Shout! Factory.
I want to point out that the release has been remastered from the original film elements!
By the eye of Agamotto! Make sure to check out the other SBTU contributors as well!
Friends, once again the Super-Blog Team Up signal can be seen in the skies over the city! Calling us comic fans together to celebrate those characters we hold dear to our hearts. With this go around we will be discussing some of the team ups that have brought together the most powerful and sometimes most unlikely of allies.
For my entry of this edition of the Super-Blog Team Up we will be taking a look at not only one of my favorite Doctor Doom stories but one of my favorite Dr. Strange tales as well. All wrapped up in a wonderful graphic novel entitled Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment.
Arrogant. Driven. Unceasing. All powerful.
Those four words do not merely apply to Marvel Comics’ well known monarch of Latveria. Who acts as a frequent foe to Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four. Those traits apply in addition to it’s most recognizable Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange. Who just so happens to be one of my favorite Marvel Comic characters.
Both characters have a backstory detailing personal loss, one crafted in no small part to their own actions. In the case of Doom I refer to his ‘disfigurement’ because he refused to listen to the warning of Reed Richards. Each characters destructive behavior leads them to become something far more greater, for good and bad, than what they originally could have imagined.
Now before I get into the origin of Dr. Strange I feel I should share how I first became introduced to the character. Unlike with the man formerly known as Victor Von Doom, I didn’t stumble upon an old issue featuring his exploits. It was actually thanks to the 1978 CBS TV movie!
Though I recall enjoying it at the time I really started to become interested in Dr. Strange and Doctor Doom, thanks to the 1981 animated series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I can vividly remember watching “7 Little Superheroes”. Where we get a glimpse of the larger Marvel Universe with the inclusion of Captain America, Namor, Shanna the She-Devil, and of course Dr. Strange.
How about a little backstory on the good Doctor?
For those that might not know…Dr. Stephen Strange was a man of science, a brilliant neurosurgeon who found very little comfort in life except for the sounds of praise at his abilities to save lives and to be paid quite handsomely for those talents.
While speeding late one night, Stephen loses control of his car and almost loses his life in the crash. While his fellow Doctors were able to save him from dying they could do nothing to completely save his hands, upon waking from the accident Stephen is forced to accept the fact his career as surgeon is at an end. Still he has not yet reached rock bottom as his pride refuses to allow him to take on a role as a teacher or consultant, believing that somewhere out in the world is someone who can restore the damaged nerves of his hands, and so he expends his vast fortune in the search of a cure, a search that will lead him all over the world but as his options and finances dwindle he finds comfort in the numbing escape of alcohol.
It is then he learns of a rumor, a person known only as the Ancient One who resides in Tibet and who might very well be able to cure Stephen. Selling his last belongings and finding passage to the East, the former surgeon stumbles upon the Tibetan monastery of the Ancient One and finds something far more important than a cure to damaged hands, he discovers his true destiny…to become a master of the mystic arts to earn the mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme and defend the Universe from the myriad threats of the great beyond such as the Dreaded Dormammu, Dracula, fellow spell-slinger Baron Mordo, Shuma-Gorath, Nightmare, and of course Mephisto, the main foe of Triumph and Torment.
What is Triumph and Torment about?
In the beginning of Triumph and Torment we are introduced to an ancient sorcerer by the name of the Aged Genghis, and we learn it is time to summon forth the Earth’s greatest magic users in an attempt to answer a challenge. One that we later learn is to determine who will be name Sorcerer Supreme, so this story also lets us see how Dr. Strange earned that title.
Before the Aged Genghis mystically sends out his summons, he briefly thinks back onto a meeting with a young Victor Von Doom. The young man has traveled to become an apprentice to the master to further his knowledge in the dark arts, after failing to heed Reed Richards advice. The older man though is quick to dismiss his request as he refuses to take on pupils…and Victor’s reaction is less than civil.
This story by the way follows what Jack Kirby once said about Doom, that his egotism was so grandiose that in his eyes he is horridly disfigured when in truth he sports merely a small scar. An uncompromising view that leads Victor to a secret order where he eventually becomes their master and with their aid he constructs and dons his first suit of armor. Which includes his famous face plate which is just fresh out of the forge, demonstrating his incredible will at withstanding pain that would fell “a lesser man”.
So after this brief flashback we begin the story proper with the Aged Genghis sending out his mental summons to meet at a forgotten jungle temple. Only those practitioners who are skilled enough are able to hear his call, which of course includes Dr. Strange. Arriving at the temple, Dr. Strange is mostly looked on in awe by those who have assembled but the same cannot be said for Dr. Doom appearance in the group. One of them even challenges his right to be in attendance, pointing out that he has always has relied on science with his gadgets and technological might. Doom removes his gauntlets and powers down his personal force field, swearing to not use his defensive and offensive tech but only his magical abilities in the challenge ahead, making a point as well to his accuser that he wouldn’t be in attendance if he hadn’t heard the mystical summons in the first place.
The challenge turns out to be one issued by three of the powerful entities that Doctor Strange has been known to call on to help power his spells. Oshtur, Hoggoth, and Agamotto of the Vishanti. They present a puzzle to the magic users, they encompass the Aged Genghis. In what looks very much like an outgrowth of…well…Kryptonite crystals actually. The one that can free him will receive the lofty title of Sorcerer Supreme.
Some of the magic users begin slinging spells at the prison only to find their spells reflected back on them, overwhelming their defenses and those of their allies. Those that are overcome become a kind of a sleepwalker, doing their best to ensorcell their fellow magic users. Only two stand tall in this attack, Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom, the latter using his technology to aid in his defense by studying the stances and techniques of his fellow spellcasters, and by allowing his armor to do some of the work so he can concentrate on the puzzle at hand.
It comes down to just Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom. Since there can be only one victor it won’t surprise you that Doom is first to react by trying to mystically imprison his fellow magic user. Strange is a little more deft at spellcasting naturally. Negating the attack and turning it back on Doom. While the Monarch of Latveria is imprisoned, Dr. Strange uses his astral projection with the aid of his Eye of Agamotto to get a closer look at the crystals surrounding the Aged Genghis and is shocked when he realizes how simple the puzzle turns out to be…by merely asking that the elder sorcerer come out of the prison instead of relying on the ‘brute’ aspects of his craft like his fellow magic users, Dr. Strange has proven to the Vishanti that he is worthy of being the Sorcerer Supreme.
Dr. Strange learns that he has earned the right of a mystical boon, but being humble he declines the offer…except for that isn’t what part of being the Sorcerer Supreme means. You see upon taking the mantle HE must grant a boon to any that were not brought low by the test, which means he must grant a wish of Dr. Doom. Now Dr. Strange is less than thrilled by this turn of events but is surprised when Doom doesn’t ask for some world conquering ability but aid in rescuing his Mother’s soul from the depths of Hades.
Agreeing to accompany Doom, Dr. Strange is shocked when they arrive in Latveria how beloved the Monarch truly is. Unlike the rest of the World he isn’t feared but cheered with even a child presenting him a bouquet of flowers to celebrate his return. Strange questions whether or not this has been put on for his benefit but for the citizens of Latveria, Doom has in fact done a great deal of good. A booming economy, peace, though as we’ve seen in earlier comics that all comes about due to the unswerving loyalty to Doom and woe be to those who try to usurp his control.
Dr. Strange learns of Doom’s backstory while staying at Castle Doom, of how his Mother, Cynthia Von Doom, who was a spellcaster herself agreed to a deal with Mephisto in what she thought was the promise of power to keep her people safe and protect them from the harassment of an evil Baron of Latveria. In truth she was given such power but with no ability to control the destructive magic, so when she unleashed her spell at some of the Baron’s guards she ended up killing everyone in the neighboring village but not before she was mortally wounded by one of the dying soldiers. Dying in her husband’s arms she begs that he keep their soon shielded from the demonic magic she had unleashed, or as I take it, from learning the Dark Arts. This would be easier for Werner Von Doom if the trunk that contained her personal belongings and spell books didn’t keep magically appearing after being seemingly destroyed. So it would seem that Doom’s destiny (No doubt thanks to Mephisto) was always setting him on the path to confront the Lord of Lies.
Dr. Strange spends three fortnights at Castle Doom doing something very surprising…teaching Doom to strengthen his magical prowess.
To be fair as you can see in that above panel that while he is doing this to help Doom he also needs to teach him so that his own life will be in less danger when they enter the realms of Hades to challenge Mephisto in battle to secure Cynthia’s soul. I also really like that Dr. Doom is quite glad that Strange is keeping such a close eye on him…considering that they are traveling to the Lord of Lies’ realm, it makes quite a lot of sense.
The duo finally are ready to descend into the depths of Hades where they are immediately set upon by the ever changing landscape and forces of Mephisto.
After a brief encounter with the Lord of Lies, the two are separated by a sandstorm that results in Dr. Strange having to relive his earlier days as a shallow and vapid person while Doom finds himself being challenged by Mephisto, not in a magical battle but in an attempt to not succumb to the deal that the Demon offers. At first Mephisto offers him the gift of world conquest, something that offends Doom in fact as he Monarch is secure in his own abilities to secure that victory…but when the Lord of Lies offers up the true prize, Cynthia Von Doom’s soul, how can he be expected to resist, not when his Mother’s salvation is so close at hand.
So a deal is struck between Doom and Mephisto, in exchange for the Sorcerer Supreme, who has thwarted the Demon many times in his past adventures, Doom will not only free Cynthia’s soul but she will be given back her mortal form as well. Doom aids in the capture of Dr. Strange who has just freed himself from the nightmarish representation of his earlier life and in a surprising turn Mephisto honors his agreement and Cynthia Von Doom is freed.
But her reaction to the how she was freed by her Son is not what Doom could have expected.
Cynthia Von Doom decides to willingly stay in Hades, Mephisto transforming her to stone, and while Doom falls to his knees in grief and disbelief the Lord of Lies gloats of how he has now gained the souls of all three for eternity.
But this is Doom we are talking about, friends. It would seem he has a little something up his sleeve…or in this case…Dr. Strange’s cape.
Doom being wise planted a device that would shatter the holding spell of Mephisto that kept Dr. Strange immobile and with the Sorcerer Supreme now freed it is time for them to join forces in a battle against the Demon!
This is Mephisto we are talking about and as much as I love Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom both they are are out of their league, big time.
Dr. Strange is able to call forth a shield to protect them from the opening salvo of Mephisto’s wrath but he is giving his all to defend himself as well as Doom and his Mother’s now stone form. Doom comes up with a plan and asks Strange to trust him, dropping the shield for a mere second as the Monarch fires a bullet made of anti-matter into Mephisto. Doom is shocked to find that his genius technology has failed to slay the Lord of Lies and as Mephisto appears again he swallows them whole. Now it’s time for Strange to come to their aid and this time asking Doom to trust him he opens the shield once again, calling upon Oshtur’s might to strike the form of Cynthia Von Doom, shattering her and destroying her completely…but freeing her soul in the process. A soul that had been redeemed when she refused to accompany her Son, to take part in his bargain with Mephisto. So when the light of Heaven summons her forth, the Demon is in anguish at the touch of the light and in rage banishes his attackers back to the mortal world.
Dr. Strange finds Dr. Doom to be more than chilly with him at their return but more shocking is that Doom has set out to do what he had always planned to do. He willingly sacrificed his personal happiness, in this case the love of his Mother, secure in the knowledge that she was forever freed and in peace and that he also still had possession of his own soul. Doom had bested the Demon at his own brand of sport!
I’ve left out quite a bit of detail in this brief synopsis of Triumph and Torment as to not ruin everything for you if you decide to seek out the graphic novel for yourself. Which you really should because it’s smartly written by the likes of Roger Stern (Spider-Man) with artwork by Mike Mignola (Hellboy).
Now that you have learned what I believe to be one of the greatest Team-Ups in comics, make sure to go and visit my fellow Super-Blog Team Up writers:
The SuperHero Satellite takes a look at the Team-Up of Superman and He-man.
The Longbox Graveyard focuses on Thing vs Thing.
Superior Spider-Talk features Spider-Man and…the Razorback?!
The Daily Rios takes a look at the Teen Titans and DNA Agents crossover.
The Middle Spaces looks at Spider-Man and Daredevil.
The Fantastiverse talks about the crossover that had Superman and Spider-Man teaming up.
Mystery V-Log tackles the Avengers.
In My Not So Humble Opinion looks at Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane.
The Unspoken Decade discusses the pairing of the Punisher and Archie.
Flodos Page has the team up of the Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter.
Between the Pages takes a look at…Bruce Wayne and Loise Lane?
BronzeAge Babies looks at some of the most famous of enemies (FF/Doom, Cap/Red Skull, etc.)