Tag Archives: Dr. Strange

Strange Tales #142, Mar. 1966

st142Strange Tales #142, Mar. 1966

Stan Lee, writer! (our answer to Bond)
Jack Kirby, penciller! (our answer to UNCLE)

Mike  Demeo, inker! (our answer to Brand Echh)
Artie Simek, letterer! (our answer to Rosen)

Extravagantly edited and written by… Stan Lee!
Painstakingly plotted and drawn by… Steve Ditko!
Lovingly lettered and bordered by… Artie Simek!

three-stars

It’s a little tough trying to remember where I was in these comics a year ago, but luckily it’s easy enough to pick up again. Basically, Nick Fury and Dr. Strange are awesome, and everything else will makes sense eventually. Also, there are just a million things going on in every given panel of this issue, and it’s a crazy difference between the 60’s and modern comics. They just have to tell you every single thing that’s going on, and if they can throw some extra shit that doesn’t matter in the background too, well the more the better.

Mentallo, a guy who can read minds and somehow NOT appear on Johnny Carson, seeks out the underwater lair of the Fixer, a guy who can make all sorts of fancy gadgets. They team up to take out SHIELD, going straight after their headquarters from beneath the Earth. Still, SHIELD is so prepared, there are traps for those who try this subterranean method, but with the combined powers of knowing everything and having an invention for every purpose, they break through them easily. Even worse, they knock out Nick Fury and his squad, then put a fancy mask on Fury himself, making him their brainwashed slave!

Meanwhile, Dr. Strange returns home from all his magic mucking about to find that some dick planted a bomb in his house, just a normal everyday non-magical bomb. As he goes to dispose it, he’s captured by some of Baron Mordo’s minions, and not only put into magical stasis, but put into an iron mask with big iron gloves, so he can’t cast any spells or say anything or see or move whatsoever, and also his cape and amulet are taken away from him. This mildly inconveniences Dr. Strange for a few minutes, but he’s pretty easily able to escape the building they were holding him in, albeit he still didn’t get his shit back, and he has iron crap all over him.

For most superheroes, tying him up in such an all-encompassing way would keep them from doing just about anything, but for Dr. Strange this is going to be a two issue problem, max. Being stuck in an awesome metal helmet and some big dumb iron gloves? Well, all the better to PUNCH you with, my dear! His solution is that he can still turn into his ethereal form, so he basically just uses that to guide himself around. But really, how are you supposed to be expected to keep Dr. Strange tied up? That’s a better effort than what I would’ve come up with.

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Strange Tales #141, Feb. 1966

Strange Tales #141, Feb. 1966

Rapturously written by: Stan Lee
Resplendently drawn by: Jack Kirby
Rollickingly inked by: Frank Ray
Reluctantly lettered by: Sam Rosen

Dialogue and captions: Stan Lee
Plot and artwork: Steve Ditko
Lettering and more lettering: Artie Simek

You know, Strange Tales makes up for every mediocre Hulk or Sub-Mariner story I have to read as part of this. Both the Nick Fury and Dr. Strange series’ are so good, they’re really the only ones that make me really excited to read the next issue of every time. In this one, Fury does a really interesting thing where he lets the HYDRA girl who helped him break out of prison go, while making it seem like it was an escape attempt of hers that he failed to notice. The way he does it says so much about his character, and it’s actually kind of a poignant sequence. I never used the word “poignant” to describe an Ant Man story, now did I?

It looks like HYDRA is finally defeated! All that’s left is the Supreme HYDRA, but he gets shot by two of his henchmen because he took off his costume and they didn’t know it was him. Oh, bitter irony. The Supreme HYDRA’s daughter “escapes” with the aid of some super-suction shoes that allow her to walk down walls, and Nick Fury goes back to SHIELD headquarters… where he’s psychically attacked! Turns out SHIELD is developing some psychic warfare stuff to counter this other guy that used to work for them but doesn’t anymore. He’s trying to figure out a way to get back at SHIELD, and mentally discovers a guy named the Fixer who can apparently build anything out of anything else.

Dr. Strange got shot in the back by one of Baron Mordo’s spells during his duel with Dormammu, and the Dread Dormammu is fucking pissed. So pissed, he sends Mordo to the “Demon Dimension” as punishment. Strange is okay and he wants to keep the duel going, but it seems like he’s too weak to fight well. Of course, this was all part of his plan, and the egotistic Dormammu falls for it, letting his guard down and getting beaten at his own game. This time Dr. Strange tells him to promise not to use his powers against Earth, hoping that’ll make the jerk leave him alone. Dormammu has one final message, and it’s that the girl who helped Dr. Strange is being sent to some random dimension where she’ll probably die, and it’s all Strange’s fault. After a long day of dimension travelling and magic-doing, Strange returns to his Greenwich Village home where, unknowing to him, some of Mordo’s goons have hidden a totally normal, non-magical bomb.

Damn, a lot of stuff happened in that half-issue of Dr. Strange. So, the first time he beat Dormammu, he said he couldn’t GO to Earth, and this time he can’t use his powers against it. I guess next time Dormammu finds a loophole in these restrictions (which he kinda already did by threatening Strange’s lady), Strange’ll have to make him promise not to do whatever THAT is. Just make him promise to leave everybody alone, or make him stay in a prison cell or something, come on.


Strange Tales #140, Jan. 1966

Strange Tales #140, Jan. 1966

Senses-shattering story by: Stan Lee!
Power-packed presentation by: Jack Kirby!
Drama-drenched drawing by: Don Heck!
Dreamy-designed delineation by: Joe Sinnott!
Booboo-bulging balloons by: Sam Rosen!

Script: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko
Lettering: S. Rosen

This Nick Fury issue has one of my favorite things ever in it: A deadly HYDRA skateboarding squad! I guess skateboards were popular at the time, and Stan said “if the kids like it, shove it in there¬†incongruously! It’s just hilarious that these guys on these little two-wheeled rectangles with rifles and big sticks are supposed to be super-fast and dangerous. I love comic books.

Fury and the daughter of the Imperial HYDRA are escaping from the HYDRA base at the same time Dum-Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones are there with a squad to break him out. Meanwhile, Tony Stark flies his “Braino-saur” spaceship into orbit to disarm HYDRA’s betatron bomb which they’re threatening the planet with. The Imperial HYDRA realizes that he’s fighting a losing battle (what with being on the other side of Nick Fury and all) and decides to hit the destruct button which will apparently finish HYDRA off once and for all (and the good guys who are also there, I’m assuming).

Dr. Strange, the Ancient One, and Baron Mordo have all been sent to a “neutral dimension” by Dormammu so he can get personally involved in this fight that Mordo has completely botched by being a useless loser. Instead of making it a spellcasting fight, however, Dormammu challenges Strange to a one-on-one melee combat using “Pincers of Power”, little wrist mounted magical pincer weapons which stun and/or lobotomize you. Strange actually does a pretty good job holding his own against the evil flame-headed ruler of another dimension, until Mordo decides to use that time to strike him down with a spell from behind. I think that Mordo is a bad guy or something.

I like that Dormammu challenges Strange to this weird pincer boxing fight instead of a magic fight, since he already lost that way once. Also, it helps break up the… well, monotony isn’t quite the word, but it helps make Dr. Strange a little more varied in its action. Personally, I could read awesome magical fights all day long, and there are only a precious few issues with Steve Ditko still drawing it, but this is good too.


Strange Tales #139, Dec. 1965

Strange Tales #139, Dec. 1965

Sensationally written by Stan Lee
Spectacularly laid-out by Jack Kirby
Superbly illustrated by Joe Sinnott
Silently lettered by Artie Simek

Script by Sterling Stan Lee
Art by Stalwart Steve Ditko
Lettering by Stoical Artie Simek

Everybody reads SHIELD, even Dr. Strange, the co-headlining feature in the magazine whom we’ve been unable to put on the cover for several issues now! …whew, I think I need to take a deep breath and calm down.

Nick Fury has been kidnapped by HYDRA, and they’ve got his locked up so tight he couldn’t possibly escape. Unless his shirt is actually also an explosive, and if they serve him food that starts in pill form then explodes into actual steaks and he uses that to blow off a wall of his cell. But that would NEVER happen, so… oh wait, that’s what happens. Also, he gets some “help” from the daughter of the Imperial Hydra (she tells him that things are helpless and he does everything). When Dum-Dum and Gabe arrive to bust him out, HYDRA realize they’re in trouble. Luckily they’ve still got their Betatron Bomb in orbit, and they think Tony Stark’s Braino-Saur is some sort of fantastical fire-breathing dragon.

The final battle between Dr. Strange and Baron Mordo is taking place now, and they’re both pointing their hands weirdly at each other and crazy shapes are coming out and doing crazy shit. Strange briefly confounds Mordo with a simple illusion that there are two of him and Mordo freaks the fuck out. Dormammu, who’s been watching this whole thing through some sort of magic TV, gets really pissed and decides to get involved himself.

Even if the magic fight in this issue doesn’t really have a lot of substance to it, it’s fucking AWESOME. Arrgh, I love Strange Tales so much at this point! Peak Ditko, Nick Fury being it’s normal awesome self… Why can’t all comic books be like this?! For that matter, why can’t all literature and art in the world be exactly like this? STUPID DIVERSITY!


Strange Tales #138, Nov. 1965

Strange Tales #138, Nov. 1965

Written by: Stan Lee, Sultan of Script!
Laid out by: Jack Kirby, Master of Melodrama!
Drawn by: Johnny Severin, Archduke of Art!
Lettered by: S. Rosen, Prince of Penmanship!

Written and edited by Incredible Stan Lee
Plotted and illustrated by Invincible Steve Ditko
Lettered and bordered by Indelible Sam Rosen

Holy shit, I love this comic book. I forgot just how good it gets when you have Dr. Strange at his best and Nick Fury to support it. Even if the stories weren’t also packed with kick-ass adventure stories, the art alone makes this stuff amazing. I’m loving John Severin’s art on Nick Fury here, it gives a lot more depth and a classic action vibe to Kirby’s character designs. Agghh, so cool.

SHIELD manages to find out where HYDRA are going to launch their Betatron Bomb into orbit from, but they get there too late to stop anything! That’s… oh, that’s not good at all. Luckily, it looks like Tony Stark has a plan to stop it, something about a “Brainosaurus”… but before he can show Nick his counter-weapon, SHIELD headquarters are invaded by HYDRA’s “Tiger” branch (each different branch of HYDRA has a different animal name. Tiger are the assassins, Fox are diplomats, Rhino are heavy arms, Mole are administrators, etc. They seriously have a whole “Mole” branch of HYDRA administration. I want to write a story about them SO BAD), and they kidnap Nick Fury and take him into space. Damn. Sucks to be SHIELD.

Dr. Strange finally found out how to get to Eternity last issue from reading the Ancient One’s mind. He goes through an insane Ditko dimension to find a huge, awesome dude who is made up of stars and planets. Eternity tells Strange that he’s not going to give him any more power to defeat Baron Mordo and Dormammu, because he already has plenty of strength to do it. What he needs is wisdom, not power. Strange is a little bummed that he wasted a lot of time looking for this cool jerk and he doesn’t help out at all, but whatever. He gets back to find that the Ancient One has been kidnapped by Mordo’s forces, and it looks like the final showdown is imminent.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this full-page drawing of Dr. Strange meeting Eternity for the first time is equal to saying the words “FUCK YEAH” 500 times. There’s nothing not awesome about this issue. Dr. Strange gets nothing out of his quest and has to shore up his resolve to take on his nemeses. His begrudging determination is a cool way for him to go into a battle he’s been trying to avoid for, what, ten issues? It’s just a great setup, and the art is, as I said before, fucking phenomenal.