Strange Tales #126, Nov. 1964
Stan Lee is our inspired writer
Dick Ayers is our admired penciller
Paul Reinman is our desired inker
S. Rosen is our tired letterer
Written by: Stan Lee, prince of prestidigitators!
Illustrated by: Steve Ditko, lord of legerdemain!
Lettered by: Art Simek, nabor of necromancy!
Man, the Human Torch/Thing story in this is fucking retarded, but Dr. Strange is at his absolute best. You can’t imagine how happy I am that Ditko’s finally started drawing a bunch of his insane alternate dimension-scapes. Or maybe you can, once you see a bunch of these things. It’s like… art, man. With monsters and a dude in a cape in them. The best kind of art.
The Puppet Master and the Mad Thinker have teamed up again, with the same exact plan they always have. Puppet Master controls the Thing and has him attach the Torch, who almost dies except the Thing randomly turns back into Ben Grimm so the Puppet Master doesn’t have control over him any more, and he saves Johnny. They go to Reed Richards to see what was happening, and he immediately realizes it was the Puppet Master, because HE’S DONE THIS LIKE TEN TIMES NOW. Reed builds a fancy hat for Ben to wear which makes the Puppet Master’s next attempt backfire on him and knock him out. There’s a handy device.
The Ancient One summons Dr. Strange because of a major danger: the dread Dormammu may be approaching Earth! To give you some sort of scale here, Dormammu is one of the guys that Strange mentions while casting spells. Dr. Strange is completely fearless and just waltzes into this horrible demon of death’s dimension, fighting crazy magic enemies left and right, until he’s approached by a hot chick with some crazy alternate dimensional hair. She warns him that Dormammu wants to kill him (duh), but he doesn’t even give a shit and walks right up to the dude (who’s head is fire) and tells him to leave Earth alone. His response? FIND OUT NEXT TIME!
What the hell went through Steve Ditko’s mind that he came up with some of this crazy stuff? I can’t even come up with a funny quip about it, it’s such a weird and alien series of images that I have no point of reference to come at it with. Maybe if I knew more about abstract art, but I don’t. I can’t even imagine what sort of drugs it would take for images like that to come to your mind, but I’ll tell you one thing, I fucking want them.