Doctor Strange 43 and 44, 1980 “ShadowQueen!” and “Duel of Fire!”

As this volume of Dr. Strange rolled on, different creators were tasked with bringing a new vision to the title. From start to finish (the last few issues were a bit of a let down), this series is packed with creators that did good by the old Doc, and these issues are more proof of that fact.

In the final pages of issue 42, we saw the Doc get attacked from behind by a muscle-bound guy wielding an axe, plus a group of bad-looking dudes and a mysterious woman. Upon further review, this woman is Clea! She instructs the man to let Strange go, and then introduces him to the rebels on this world (Clea went after Wong, who got lost in a previous issue). Well, luck would have it they find Wong, and then it’s up to the rebels, and the Doc and his crew to stop the wicked witch of the…er, I mean, the sorceress Shialmar! In the second issue, we get some back story involving Wong’s family history. A nice little touch considering he didn’t get much exposure aside from being the Doc’s right hand man.

This particular run of Doctor Strange features some really good stories by Chris Claremont (writer). Of course he’s known mostly for his work on the X-Men, and rightly so, but if you’re a fan, don’t stop there because his work here (and Marvel Team-Up just to name one more) is very solid. When you add the incredible art team of Gene Colan (pencils) and Dan Green (inks), with colors by Ben Sean and Bob Sharen, and letters by Diana Albers and Jim Novak (respectively), you get great Bronze Age comics! And if that wasn’t groovy enough, the two covers are by Michael Golden!

 

 

Doctor Strange 29, 1978 “He Who Stalks!”

Another post about Doctor Strange, and this one is another favorite of mine. One of the reasons is because it has several guest appearances. The tale centers around the Doc and Nighthawk (both heroes are members of the non-team “The Defenders“), as they face off against a villain that’s been in the pages of Daredevil during this era as well. The Death-Stalker is a very mysterious villain and a sinister one too that has the power of intangibility, and a “death touch” that renders lesser men dead!

In his long career, Roger Stern (writer) has written some very compelling stories, and had some lengthy runs on titles. Of course, most everyone will gravitate to his Amazing Spider-Man work, or his tremendous collaboration with John Byrne on Captain America, but don’t sleep on his Dr. Strange stories because they are great! Tom Sutton (pencils) is most noted for his horror work, but given the opportunity, he can draw a wider range of material. Veteran artist Ernie Chan (inks) is always a welcome sight in the credits box, because he was a very solid artist that put in good work. Petra Goldberg (colors), Annette Kawecki (letters), and Archie Goodwin (editor), round out the creative team! I shall not forget awesome artist, Frank Brunner (cover), who is one of the best to ever pencil the Doc!

 

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Doctor Strange 12, 1976 “Final Curtain!”

It’s no secret that Doctor Strange is my favorite character. His 1974 series is undoubtedly one of the most underrated series of all time. From start to finish it’s incredible. And let’s be honest, with creators like Steve Englehart, Gene Colan, Roger Stern, Jim Starlin, Tom Sutton, Marv Wolfman, Rudy Nebres, Paul Smith (and more!), you can’t go wrong! This particular issue deals with the Doc, as he’s about to be in conflict with Eternity himself, for the soul of his recently deceased master, the Ancient One! A flashback of the insidious Baron Mordo, and the Doc and Clea see the world die!

As the creative tag-team of Steve Englehart (writer) and Gene Colan (pencils) was beginning to wind down, one might think that the material might suffer, but this is not so. Both men brought their “A” game until the end of the run. It’s to be expected though, as both were consummate pros throughout their comic book careers. Another link in the awesome creative chain, is Tom Palmer (inks, colors). His work alongside Colan is legendary, even if you only look at this title or Tomb of Dracula. Yet another name synonymous with Bronze Age royalty is Tom Orzechowski (letters). He was a constant at Marvel and definitely earned his place among these other greats with his diligence. Throw in Marv Wolfman (editor), and the credits are full of amazing creators that gave their best!

 

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Dr. Strange Annual #1, 1976 “…and there will be worlds anew!”

There are many creators that made their mark in the Bronze Age, and some that ascended from an embryonic stage to stardom. Of course, these men and women didn’t realize it back in the day, but decades later, others like myself revel in their works, and hold them in high esteem for it! A title that most certainly gave opportunity for those willing to work on it was Dr. Strange! Think about it. Limitless worlds, characters, scenarios, etc., that was a springboard for the imaginations of its creators that had the wherewithal to use.

One of those above mentioned creators without a doubt, is P. Craig Russell (co-plotter, pencils, inks, colors)! This man’s work is nothing short of extraordinary to say the least. His run on Amazing Adventures is the stuff of legend. His inks over the pencils of Gil Kane (Marvel Fanfare) are noteworthy as well. As with many books of that era, Marv Wolfman (script and co-plot) lent his tremendous skills as a writer, and joined Russell in creating a gem. Letters by John Costanza, and a fantastic cover by none other than Dave Cockrum!

 

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Marvel Team-Up #80, “A Sorcerer Possessed!” and #81, 1979 “Last Rites”

I love team books, if not for just the different characters, then just because you get more “hero” bang for your buck! But if I had to choose between Marvel Team-UP and Marvel Two-in-One, I’d take the latter. 2-in-1 was just more quirky, or off-beat, if you will. I do however love Dr. Strange, and no matter what title he appears in, I’m going to buy it! In this two-parter, the Doc is somehow turned into a werewolf, and runs amok in NYC. It’s up to Clea, Spider-Man, and Satana to stop him! Throw in a guest appearance by Marie Laveau, and the ever faithful Wong, and you get an issue packed with excitement!

Although Chris Claremont isn’t really known for his work with the macabre, but if you dig, you’ll see he wrote a few different stories in the genre. He does a fine job in this story, showing the great concern Clea has for her mentor/lover! In the art department, we have guest penciler, Mike Vosburg, and he does an outstanding job! Assisting with the art (inks) are Gene Day (#80) and Steve Leialoha (#81)! Both men are solid inkers and have a nice resumé! Letters and colors are both recognizable names as well (colors for #80 are Petra Goldberg, and letters by Denise Wohl– colors in #81 are by Ben Sean, and letters by Rick Parker). Both issues have great covers, and Rich Buckler and Bob McLeod gave us the first one, then followed by Al Milgrom and Steve Leialoha on the second!

 

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Dr. Strange King-Size Annual #1, 1976 “and there will be worlds anew!”

Different decades mean different things to all of us, but certain eras are definitely made more spectacular by a select few. A couple of those names for me personally (for the 1970’s) are most certainly Marv Wolfman and P. Craig Russell. Both of these gentleman became big names in the 1970’s, and rightfully so. Wolfman for his work with Marvel Comics horror titles, initially (Tomb of Dracula, and wrote/edited many black & white mags), and Russell with his work also for Marvel, on the title Amazing Adventures featuring Killraven. Of course, both did spot jobs here and there on whatever they could get their hands on, but both have a knack for creating on titles with a supernatural or mystical aspect to them.

In this wild adventure, Dr. Strange must travel to an otherworldly plane to battle for his lover, Clea. The enemy he must face is beautiful as well though, but very dangerous and powerful! Get ready, because this one’s a real head trip! Co-plotted by Russell and Wolfman, scripted by Marv Wolfman, pencils, inks, and colors by P. Craig Russell, letters by John Costanza, and cover by Dave Cockrum! Enjoy!

 

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Marvel Premiere #8, 1973. “The Doom That Bloomed on Kathulos”

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As if Dr. Strange, Clea, and Stonehenge wasn’t enough, you get a story inspired by the fantasy legend, Robert E. Howard, scripted by Gardner Fox, pencils by Jim Starlin, and inks by Frank Giacoia! This A-list creative team brings us a tale of the good ‘ol Doc, as he and Clea have faced down trial after trial lately. In this issue, Strange finds out that not only must he face Kathulos in some dark, creepy dimension, but that if he does, waiting in the wings is his master Shuma-Gorath! We also see in flashback, these last few days, and its bizarre adventures. From an undersea nightmare, to another demon, spawned to serve Shuma-Gorath.

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Throughout the book, we get amazing work by Starlin, and it really shows how great he would have been on a title like this one. Don’t get me wrong, I love Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, and all the other artists on the different series, but the awesomeness of Starlin’s work cannot be denied! Just look at those panels, by Starlin, Giacoia, Hunt, and Goldberg! Let us not diminish the writing by comic book great, Gardner Fox! His Golden and Silver Age work is nothing short of astounding (JSA, Starman, Sandman, etc.)!

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Adapting the works of a great writer like Howard doesn’t hurt your chances at making something great either though. Howard’s countless creations (Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, etc.) have inspired hundreds of writers, artists, and authors for decades. And I’m sure they will for many more to come! See you soon!

Doctor Strange #15, 1976. “Where There’s Smoke…”

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In honor of my son’s birthday, today brings a double-dose of comic book action! I let him pick out the book I’d post for today’s second installment, and he blind picked this gem! Written by Steve Englehart, Pencils by Gene “The Dean” Colan, inks & color by Tom Palmer, letters by John Costanza, and edited by Marv Wolfman! This tale brings Clea back to her mentor and lover, a strange man at the door that attempts suicide, and the minions of Hades itself! Cover by Colan, Palmer, and Crespi! Enjoy!