Strange Occasions for the Week of November 10th, 2010

Welcome to another week’s look into the life of Stephen Strange. Although I could only track down the Doc in one title today, it was a doozy.  I think we all have been waiting, with varying levels of excitement and dread, for the final chapter in this dimensional invasion story. Today, if we can agree on nothing else, we got it. Sort of.

New Avengers #6 –


Doctor’s orders. Unfortunately there is very little in this issue to get ourselves worked up about. We already knew that the Vishanti have booted Agamotto, though we never figured out why. We already knew that the Eye of Agamotto would be lost in one way or another, and with it much of the authority of the office of Sorcerer Supreme. And we already knew that this story would in no significant way change the face of Marvel Magic. I will, like always in situations like this, give my full review on the issue on Friday. Before then, however, I would like to say that this issue is the very first time in this arc that this even vaguely felt like a Doctor Voodoo story, which it apparently was supposed to be all along. Having said that, can you guess who dies? Of course, this being a magical story we have to keep in mind that magic is always a zero sum game…

If you saw the Sorcerer Supreme Seeking Shaman in any other titles this week please post it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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Read em and weep.

Oh folks, I just read issue 6 and we have some stuff to discuss. If you havn’t read Sanctum’s predictions yet, go do so. Many are quite relevant.

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Strange Occasions for the Week of November 3rd, 2010

Hey there, Strangers!

It was a light Week for Doc Strange, but he did manage to escape total oblivion. He even brought some friends along for the ride.

Iron Man / Thor #1 (Baron Mordo) – If you have been wondering what has been happening with Karl Amadeus Mordo since he was deceived in the pages of X-Factor, wonder no more. Apparently he returned to his Sanctum in the Carpathian mountains just in time to be mugged by Ulik, who takes Mordo’s amulet in order to mystically supercharge the Crimson Dynamo. I love comics.

Marvel Holiday Magazine 2010 – This issue, like all good Christmas specials, contains a time-honored relic forced back into service for one more seasonal spectacle before returning to retirement for another year. In this case it is the story “Tis the Season” from Marvel Treasury #13. Throughout this story an array of Marvel mainstays, including the Incredible Hulk, are reflecting upon various aspects of the season. Good for him Doctor Strange and his pals from the Defenders are there to remind him he is not alone.

Later in the magazine we are treated, and when the article has a title like “By the Hairy Ho-Ho-Hosts of Hoggoth!” I do mean treated, to this week’s second appearance of Baron Mordo. This remembrance of the ten greatest beards in Marvel Comics places our favorite foil at number nine.

Doctor Strange appears one last time in this holiday issue when he gets a mention in a Hanukkah themed article entitled “Eight Crazy Knights” by Sean T. Collins. I have to agree that getting one Marvel Knights TPB every night of Hanukkah would be awesome and inspirational, but they would all be outshone by their recommendation of Spider-Man: Fever on the seventh night. The gift of this Marvel book comes with the message: “Talk about the Festival of Lights – This Psychedelic Spidey Story’s shiner than a truck full of gelt.” Indeed it is.

Strange Tales II #2 – Another issue of Strange Tales comes and goes without actually including any Strange. Well, except for this delightful tidbit in the advertisement for issue #3.

And speaking of Strange Occasions from the future, did you see this?

This is the cover of Doctor Strange: From the Marvel Vault #1, due out in February. Head on over to iFanboy and read the article then squirm with impatience.

If you saw the Sorcerer Supreme Christmas Conjurer in any other titles this week please post it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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Strange Occasions for Wednesday October 27th, 2010

Wednesday, more like not-very-Strange-day, amiright! It was, as far as I am aware, a quiet day for Stephen Strange. There were a couple of Strange related treats I was able to dig up though:

Marvel Universe: The End – This Hardcover book collects the 2003 series “Marvel: The End” in which Doctor Strange appears several times as an axillary character.

The Amulet of Samarkand GN – While this book has nothing to do with Doctor Strange or the Marvel Universe, you may just recognize a certain Bleecker Street window if you look closely at the childhood residence of the protagonist.

Dr. Orpheus Bobble Head – My friendly local comic shop, along with many others, just got these in today. I must say that I love mine so much. Not caring for collectibility one whit I took it immediately out of the box and it stares at me disapprovingly as I write this. In case you were unaware, Dr. Orpheus is a character from the Venture Bros. television program that is a direct homage to Doctor Strange. Sanctum Sanctorum Comix has a great review of this wonderful bit of merchandise that I highly recommend you read.

I want to be him when I grow up.

If you saw the Sorcerer Supreme Non-present Necromancer in any other titles this week please post it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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Strange Occasions for the week of October 20th, 2010

With only one minor appearance of Doctor Strange this week, this promises to be a whole lot less controversial installment of Strange Occasions. It seems like we always get this lull right after an issue of New Avengers, and I assume the trend will continue after we make the transition to The Avengers. Everybody loves Doctor Strange, that is a scientific fact. It does seem like the writers at Marvel are trying to avoid him at the moment though. Having Strange as a likable and competent character earns you no Bendis points. Still, it is Halloween and a time for magic. That means there are going to be some Strange sightings, come hell or high water.

Tomb of Terror #1 –The first story in this Marvel horror compilation, written by Paul Hornschemeier and drawn by Mark Texeira, is called “Descent of the Beast” and it features Man-Thing. Even more important that Man-Thing, if there is such a thing, is the brief inclusion of Doctor Strange, who is reprising his role from the 1978 made for TV movie where Stephen Strange is a caring psychiatrist at a public hospital prior to accepting his mystical duties. In this story Strange provides a bit of psychological relief for the man lost deep inside the Man-Thing

Official Handbook of the Marvel Univers A-Z Update #4 (Wong) – Wong is just awesome and needs a 4 issue mini series dedicated just to him. He has got to be up to something interesting right now since the New Avengers have fled the Sanctum and Stephen is busy hanging out at the Avengers Mansion and fighting of the patriarchs of earthly magic. Wong has seen this all before, and he has always been there to help Doctor Strange back to his feet whenever he decided to retake the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Wong’s entry in the handbook actually covers a couple of pages, and briefly mentions many such occasions. My favorite bit though, without a doubt, is the picture of him as a child.

I have to wonder though, will Doctor Strange be picking that mantle back up any time soon? I think the people in charge over at Marvel might be done with the idea of a Sorcerer Supreme for now. Maybe that is one of the many things they will do in their depowering of the Doctor, remove his office all together. After all, passing on the role of Sorcerer Supreme does little to eliminate the deus ex machina problem they claim exists, it just transfers it to another character. Only time, or perhaps Joe Quesada, will tell…

Chaos War #2 (Eternity, Doctor Voodoo) – There is still neither hide nor hair of Doctor Strange in this title, although I guess the cast of characters here is limited to those of Hercules’ choosing and he did choose the current Sorcerer Supreme to help in his war. It is a shame that Voodoo will, apparently, spend the whole event twitching on the floor. It is his job to protect reality from just this sort of trouble. Hercules does go for the big guns in this issue though and attempts to recruit Eternity himself to the cause. Eternity, for his part, politely declines the invitation after giving the protagonists a basic lesson in metaphysics.

 

If you saw the Sorcerer Supreme Monochrome Magician in any other titles this week please post it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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New Avengers #5

By the Hoary Hosts, it has happened. Bendis “went there”. Well, to be fair, he didn’t go all the way there. The absolute worst case scenario would have been if Bendis really had decided that the Ancient One had come back to life for the sole purpose of kicking his beloved pupil while he was down and stealing his amulet. That isn’t even comic book bad, it’s just dumb. However he did, as Sanctum Sanctorum and many others guessed, do the next worst thing and make Agamotto the bad guy.

And now for confession time: I am not so terribly opposed to this. I think Bendis handled it poorly, he is really not even trying on this book. The writing in New Avengers is possibly the worst I have ever seen from him. Agamotto, however, has been known to be a possessive jerk at times, and can be a bit amoral when it comes to the destruction of entire universes. Agamotto has also been known to test Strange in some pretty intense and seemingly malevolent ways when the Doc needed to stop wearing black nail polish and listening to The Cure so that he could get back to being the Sorcerer Supreme. This could be either one of these situations and I could be okay with that. Really, the worst part of this story is the story itself.

This issue begins with the flashback to Strange and Wong dispensing some street level justice to some Red Hand thugs who are being hired to steal the Eye of Agamotto. This serves both the purpose of tying this story into the big Shadowland event that is going on right now (even though the two would not be concurrent) and of giving us some exposition as to who Agamotto is. As I said in an earlier post, I liked this bit of the story, even though it did not make one lick of sense. The whole concept was flawed to the core, but entertaining none the less. Much like Hot Pockets.

In the following scenes we see Daniel Drumm, who states who he is out loud in case we have forgotten about him, wandering through a dimension of pure light, and Doctor Voodoo in his sanctum bemoaning his inability to do anything useful at all. Poor Jericho, It is not his fault his tenure as Sorcerer Supreme was to be written by someone who did not like writing magic. The two are briefly united, and this is apparently enough to clue Voodoo into the source of their problems. At the same time the New Avengers team has walked back to the mansion and began a civilized talk where nobody tries to punch Doctor Strange. At first. Through logic, deductive reasoning, and Spider-Man’s witty banter they come to the conclusion that Agamotto must be trying to reclaim the Eye just as his emissary arrives to demand its return. Oh yeah, the emissary also casually dropped this bomb:

It seems to me that little bit there would be worthy of a story all to itself, and hopefully we will learn more about it. The more likely outcome is that it will never be really explored, just used as another justification for limiting magic in the Marvel Universe. The Doctor, of course, refuses. Not only would it be a terrible idea to hand something that is (suddenly) so powerful to a potential enemy, but he maintains that it is not his to give. It belongs to the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Voodoo. This makes the emissary angry, and he possesses the rest of the New Avengers who waste no time in attempting to rectify the lack of Strange punching.

Luckily for Strange, and in a blatant attempt to disprove my “Doctor Strange gets straight up punched in every Bendis written book he is in” theory, Doctor Voodoo shows up in time to exorcise the heroes and end the immediate threat. Then he does something that does not seem very smart. He challenges Agamotto for ownership of the Eye. A move so incredibly stupid it might just work (sitcom writing 101, folks). Of course, Strange and Hellstrom do not hesitate to point out how incredibly stupid the whole concept is. It is like a kitten challenging a tank. Voodoo does not listen to them, he has a plan. In a rare moment of competence for a Bendis written Sorcerer Supreme he mentions a loophole in the rules. I like this. Magic should be more about wit than about power and Doctor Voodoo needs to show his ability as Earth’s greatest mystical defender before the mantle is inevitably stripped from him. Unfortunatley I don’t think we are going to get a lot of awesome mystical combat in the next issue as Wolverine was chosen as Voodoo’s champion in the upcoming fight. Jericho’s plan is to infuse all the the New Avengers power, along with Hellstrom’s, the Iron Fist’s, and his own into Wolverine before launching him like a occult missile at Agamotto. Yep, this whole arc comes down to one big mystically infused Fastball Special. I hope that’s okay.

At this point I still can’t say what I think about this issue. Out of context it might just be comics, full of all the wacky hijinks we love the medium for. Looking at it along with the previous four issues though I just can’t get it out of my head that this project was very low on Bendis’ list of priorities. The writing seems shoddy, and if you have been reading this blog you know I am something of an inside expert on shoddy writing.

Still, I didn’t hate this book.

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Strange Occasions for the week of October 13th, 2010

It is a New Avengers week folks, and that means there is at least one Strange Occasion we are going to get to discuss. Also, for the first time really, I will be mentioning a Strange related collectible item.

Dormammu Mini-Bust – This mini bust from Bowen design is awesome. I got to see one unboxed, although unpurchased by me, earlier today and it was really something to look at. The translucent Flames of Regency are really just the icing on this cake.

I Am an Avenger #2– This issue of I Am an Avenger, like the first, had a brief cameo appearance by Doctor Strange. In a story entitled “The Journal of Edwin Jarvis”, written by Paul Tobin with pencils by David Lopez, we find out that the Doc likes sushi when ordering a la carte.

New Avengers #5 – You know when you sit around with your friends or co-workers and you joke about how bad things are, then you start joking about the worst case scenario just to put things in perspective? Imagine Bendis just did that with our speculations on last month’s issue.

I will, of course, present you with a full review of this book on Friday after you have had a chance to read it yourselves and digest its many tidbits. Tune in then, true seekers.

Strange Tales II #1 was also released today, but there was no story with Doctor Strange in it. Which makes me sad. There is a bit with Namor pole dancing though, and the story by the always wonderful Kate Beaton was wonderful, as always. The Halloween issue of Super Hero Squad was released today as well, and I really expected to see something in there. What better place to trick-or-treat than at the Sanctum? Falcon does wear a Doctor Voodoo costume though when they go to visit the Man-Thing, and that isn’t too shabby.

If you saw the Sorcerer Supreme Kleptomaniacal Conjurer in any other titles this week please post it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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