Monday, February 6, 2006

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essential doctor strange!

I finally finished slogging my way through Marvel's Essential Doctor Strange, Volume 1. That was surprisingly dense! You really get your money's worth of story with these Essential collections.

This was completely trippy stuff. After reading several volumes of the usual Marvel superheros-punching-things stories, it was a treat and an utter headtrip to read these stories. Spellcasting, astral projection, alternate worlds, interdimensional baddies, and Doctor Strange striding into the middle of it all like the take-charge guy in a big silly cape that he is.

The collection has its share of bizarre mystic "F*@% Yeah!" moments. Not many other comics would have situations where the hero has to astrally lead his own incapacitated body out of the baddie's fortress. AWESOME!

Panel - Dr. Strange astrally projects himself

Plus the occasional moments where it's just not worth it to bust a few Crimson Bands of Cytorrak when you can just bust some heads:

Panel - Dr. Strange busting some heads

And the strange little side bits like this, when things in the world went topsy-turvy due to malevolent influences:

Panel - Milk is green! What gives!

I enjoyed the hell out of the first half or so, but after a while, it felt a bit repetitive. There's only so many times you can watch Doc Strange point his hands and boom "By the toecheese of Tarragon!" before you start hankering for a bit more. With stories on such a cosmic scale, the writers kept having to up the ante, and after a while it felt a bit Authority-esque with the stream of successively larger baddies.

For one moment I thought that story was going to take a typical Stan Lee turn and Doctor Strange was going to have all kinds of real-world problems:

Panel - Dr. Strange cannot pay his pharmacy bills

But I think the editorial smackdown must've landed, because this segued into a different story, and a few issues later, Doc was back to being above it all. Financial issues are so bourgeois.

Panel - Dr. Strange thinks money problems are for losers

And, of course, there's got to be a girl, even if it's a twisty-haired one from another dimension.

Panel - Clea wears silly shoes

Look at those heels! Even in faraway dimensions, women's shoe design is lame.

I'll tell you this about Doctor Strange stories - they're really not big on girls.

Panel - Dr. Strange senses a female!

What few women there are, they're either in need of rescuing or they're completely evil biotechs. Of course, I'd probably be a bit biotechy too if writers kept calling me a "female" all the time. "Woman" isn't a copyrighted word, guys! Feel free to use it!

These being old-school Marvel, there was a fair amount of meta-silliness to the comics. I kind of miss that these days. You'd never see a panel like this on the cover of a NuMarvel comic:

Cover panel - Dr. Doom is not in this issue

Or these kind of interior credits:

Panel - Marvel creators love their crazy credits

Or this cover blurb:

Cover panel - Dr. Strange is in this issue, we swear

Or this storyline, which, as Sweet Toasty Jesus is my witness, I have got to find:

Cover panel - The Thing and the Human Torch with mop tops!

7 comments!     click to join in

1 tangognat   (10:16am - Feb 7, 2006)

I'm around halfway through this volume - it really is surprisingly dense, I'm finding that I can only read a few pages before turning to something else. Maybe I can only read so much Dr. Strange before my brain starts to hurt...

2 Bill Doughty   (3:12pm - Feb 7, 2006)

I predict it will only be a matter of days before someone uses "La Leche Es Verde! Que Pasa?" as a blog title.

Also, Marvel published an Essential Human Torch, reprinting all (or at least most) of the Torch stories from Strange Tales, so the Beatles story may be in there.

3 Jim   (7:58am - Feb 8, 2006)

Why isn't Johnny's wig on fire?! What were those clowns ON back in those days?

Has anyone read the Marvel Team-Up featuring The Hulk and Keith Moon? Now THAT'S essential.

4 Kitty   (8:04am - Feb 8, 2006)

Has anyone read the Marvel Team-Up featuring The Hulk and Keith Moon? Now THAT'S essential.

Please, please, someone let me know where I can find this!

5 Mister Wolf   (4:11pm - Feb 9, 2006)

Haha! OMG you have to lend me that! =:D

6 Kitty   (8:18am - Feb 10, 2006)

Haha! OMG you have to lend me that! =:D

Sadly it was courtesy of the library! I bet interlibrary loan would get it for you, though - they got it for me with minimal waiting.

7 Johnny B   (6:11am - Feb 22, 2006)

Good news- that Beatle story is indeed in the Essential Human Torch.

I used to have that one when I was a kid. Oh, if only I could go back in time and take that one away from 5-year-old me!

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