Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa -OGN

In the 1980s, Marvel started to release OGN’s (Original Graphic Novels) on a regular basis. The stories ranged anywhere from horror to sci-fi, to straight up superheroes. These over-sized books were some of the greatest achievements of that decade, bar none. Some of these titles were books that certain creators had the chance to get their own new characters into print by Marvel (DreadstarJim Starlin, Star SlammersWalt Simonson, The FuturiansDave Cockrum, etc.). This book is not one of those, but it is nothing short of an absolute gem!

J.M. DeMatteis (writer) is one of those writers I discovered in a Bronze Age comic book (not 100% sure which one), and I loved his style from the very¬† beginning. I’ve read a fair share of his work, and this is his magnum opus. His ability to write stories full of raw emotion is second to none. Not to be outdone, Dan Green (artist/co-plotter) turns in the work of a lifetime as well. His pencils on Doctor Strange (the 1974 series) was great, and really showed his ability to render the supernatural.

This story is a culmination of everything that Marvel comics built from the late 1960s through the 1970s. Mysticism, philosophy, morality, religion, etc., are all touched upon in this one. DeMatteis doesn’t beat you over the head with his own beliefs or ram an agenda down your throat either. He carefully crafts a tale that is steeped in self-awareness, and really pushes Stephen Strange to the edge of the proverbial cliff. We see the good Doctor in moments of strength, and weakness, and everywhere in-between. An extreme amount of depth was added to him in this story.

The artwork is something to marvel at, and Dan Green should be extremely proud of this book (also being a co-plotter). Some creators, as consistent as they are, never produce something this incredible in a lifetime of work. His inking is very extensive from the Bronze Age up until recently (at least 2011). The visual story he tells, coupled with the script is a masterpiece. This book is right up there with any OGN…period.

As for the true meaning of Shamballa, I’ll be satisfied with this story and Three Dog Night

 

 

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Moon Knight Special Edition 3, 1984 “A Long Way to Dawn” and “”The Mind Thieves”

Every once and a while, you get a comic book that reflects society, sometimes the bad parts of society that previously no one else wanted to show. Sometimes writers and artists have a tendency to ram messages about societal problems down a readers throat, and that of course is not a good thing. I won’t give any examples but in the 1980’s, you have plenty of comics that were critical darlings that weren’t very subtle in delivering a point about social issues. There are however titles like this one, that do an excellent job of showing things as they are for some people, and enlighten the people from the other side of the tracks on just how bad things can be.

When Doug Moench (writer) and Bill Sienkiewicz (artist) took over the reigns of the character Moon Knight, they made comics that were thought-provoking, edgy, and they did it without being overt about their intentions. Too many writers nowadays fall into the trap of beating the readers over the head with their own agendas, without ever considering whether they’re even remotely right or who they may alienate. Can you even imagine what these guys would create together in this day and age? The scary part is that there isn’t anybody in mainstream comics with the cajonies these guys had back in 1980! Pimps, drunks, drug addicts, and thieves, you get them all in this book!

 

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Kull the Conqueror #4, 1983 “Death Stalks a Councilor”

My love for Robert E. Howard created material is something that if most don’t already know about, you soon will. Of course, Conan is the biggest REH character, but if you look deeper into his world, you’ll see others, like Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, and Kull! Kull is basically a Conan “type” character, but more refined as a ruler. He’s a savage warrior like Conan, but most of the stories are as Kull as a ruler, not a thief, or pirate. His trusted friend, Brule, is a warrior born but also a man of great intellect when it comes to war. Kull is a man born in Atlantis, but rules the kingdom of Valusia.

This story was scripted by perennial Bronze Age writer, Alan Zelenetz. He’s done some other great work in this category (Thor/Warriors Three), and should be applauded for his efforts. Penciling, we have the legend himself, ‘Big’ John Buscema, and we all know of his accolades in the industry. An incredible artist taken to soon from the world. Dan Green and Joe Chiodo add their abilities to the artwork (inks), and throw in letters by John Morelli, and colors by Christie Scheele, and cover by Bill Sienkiewicz (inks on the second story as well) make this issue a winner!

 

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Doctor Strange #42, 1980 “The Black Mirror!”

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better cover/interior combination than this one. Gene Colan’s career had already seen some of the highest of the highs at this point, having already spanned over thirty years. Michael Golden was just getting started with his career, and he was a change of pace that the industry needed as far as I’m concerned. A great mix indeed, and when you get a strong story from another pro who was rather young in his comic book life, it cannot be denied that this was a good time for comics, and for the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange! In this wild tale, Clea and Sara have switched bodies for the moment, and the Doc ends up almost getting beheaded!

A story this awesome could only be brought to you by Chris Claremont (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Jim Novak (letters), Bob Sharen (colors), Michael Golden (cover) and Jo Duffy (editor)! Doctor Strange versus a cadre of sorcerers bent on his destruction, and a dragon that would make J.R.R. Tolkien jealous! All this and more wait inside the pages of this Bronze Age classic! Enjoy!

 

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Doctor Strange #38, 1979 “Eye of the Beholder!”

To close out the 1970’s, Chris Claremont had a short stint on this title, as it had become a bit of a merry-go-round of creative teams for the last couple of years. Claremont took his turn (as if he didn’t have enough on his plate with the then resurgent X-Men!), and didn’t disappoint. He brings a new character to the book, named Sara Wolfe. She’s an “old friend” of the Doc’s, and you can immediately see the “Betty and Veronica” approach taking a foot-hold on the book. Matched with the eerie artwork of Gene Colan, this book definitely reminds you of a horror story. Speaking of the story, Wong gets captured by an unknown foe, then the Doc must face Native American demons, for his eternal soul!

Written by “Superscribe” Chris Claremont, pencils by Gene “The Dean” Colan, inks by “Delightful” Dan Green, letters by “Terrific” Tom Orzechowski, colors by “Boisterous” Bob Sharen, and edited by “Joyful” Jo Duffy! Don’t forget the awesome cover by Bob Hall and Terry Austin! A great creative team for the greatest sorcerer in the universe! Enjoy!

 

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Doctor Strange #41, 1980 “Maelstrom at the Center of Time”

I definitely wanted to sneak in some Doc Strange for Halloween, and what better way, than with a Man-Thing story! In this issue, we see the Doc in an adventure with not only Man-Thing, but also Jenifer Kale, Baron Mordo, a cult, and even Death itself! From cover to cover, you’ll get everything you’ve ever wanted – the Nexus of All Realities, magic, monsters, skeletons, you name it!

The story is brought to us by Chris Claremont, pencils by Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan, inks by Dan Green, letters by Diana Albers, colors by Ed Hannigan, and edited by Jo Duffy! You also get a spectacular cover by Bob Layton and Klaus Janson, as well! Definitely check out this issue, as it can found for a decent price in most back issue bins.

 

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