Friday, October 21, 2016
Strange Takes On The Vatican!
Finally Doctor Strange proved his mettle in the pages of Marvel Premiere and graduated once again to his own self-titled comic, and as it turns out his very first number one issue. Before Doc had taken over the numbering of Strange Tales and his debut was issue #169 or something like that. Now Doc gets a bonafide #1 all of his own.
After the confrontation with Sise-Neg at the beginning of time, things settle down a bit in the Greenwich address as Stephen Strange begins to pay attention to Clea, his apprentice and lover. But their romantic antics prove a sufficient distraction to allow the entrance of the depraved Silver Dagger. He steals his way into the house and attacks Doc imagining him to be a representative of the devil. Silver Dagger takes Clea prisoner while an injured Strange escapes into the Eye of Agamotto.
In this "wonderland" environment Doc encounters a host of odd creatures such as a know-it-all worm smoking a hookah, a bizzaro gang of Defenders and even more dangerous things. Eventually though Doc figures it all out and is able to escape the illusionary world and once again confront his enemy Silver Dagger.
Silver Dagger is a failed priest, who by his own story appeared to once have been in line for the papacy itself but who lost out due to his fanatical nature. He left the priesthood and following through on his zealotry became a warrior for God, and thus sought out the magician Doctor Strange. He at first wants to convert Clea and save her soul, but seems more eager to simply kill her. Doc arrives finally to save the day and return things to some sense of order.
This four-parter (with a reprint story tossed in for good measure) is a stunner. The artwork by Brunner and inker Dick Giordano is outstanding, some of the best the series will ever see. Unfortunately this story is Brunner's swan song. His reputation secured, he leaves Doc behind to find more lucrative ways to make money from his artwork. Still, after all these decades, this material is what I think of first when I think of Frank Brunner.
Steve Englehart will stay with Doc for some time and in the next issue will be joined by veteran Doc artist Gene Colan.