Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Doctor Strange #19 (Oct. 1976)

Dcotor_Strange_19Purchase price: $1

I’m the first to admit I haven’t read many Doctor Strange comics over the years.  I was never big into occult and monster type stories and I found the alliterative spells are kind of turn-off for whatever reason.  I’ve since become more into the classic comic characters and stories and have been thinking I should give the good doctor a try.  I’ve come thisclose to buying the Marvel Essential edition with Doctor Strange, but haven’t.  So when I found this one in the dollar box I figured it was as good a time as any to read one with an open mind.

This issues title, “Lo, the Powers Changeth!” isn’t exactly a good start, but seeing that Marv Wolfman is the writer and Alfredo Alcala is the artist helps offset the balance back toward favorable.  Someone named Xander is running down the points of how great he is to a mysterious group of hooded individuals who appear to be leaders of the universe, or “quadriverse” as they call it.  Doctor Strange is somehow foiling their plans (assumedly for world/universe domination) and they may have to send Xander out to set Doctor Stranger right.  Elsewhere the title character is floating around the 18th century looking for his girlfriend, Clea, who has hooked up with Ben Franklin (no, I’m not making that up), which is a good depiction since Ben Franklin was something of a man-whore.  I know I’ve missed something from previous issues because Strange is thinking about how he watched the world be destroyed.  Eventually he figures out that this is all a put-on by another wizard named Stygyro and he fights it off, which also leads him to the realization that something bigger is going on.  So he heads to the astral plane (I guess) to speak with his mentor “the Ancient One” who verifies he’s on the right track, but can say no more.  After more investigation and deep thought Doctor Strange puts it all together and heads back to Ancient One.  This was all a test to see if Strange was worthy enough to be elevated to the next level/plane and he passed!  Yay!  Not so fast.   The Sorcerer Supreme isn’t interested in becoming a god-like figure living on the astral plane, which goes against the Ancient One’s plan.  The decision comes with a cost as Doctor Strange loses his title of Sorcerer Supreme, bumped down to Master of the Mystic Arts, but he’s OK with that because he got Clea away from Ben Franklin and she’s kind of in the mood now.  Score!

Doctor Strange was actually better than I thought it was going to be.  I felt a little lost early on, but that’s to be expected not having read the previous issue, and it all came together nicely at the end, plus the annoying alliteration was kept to a minimum (though I was a bit inspired by it).  Alcala’s art was very good as it usually is.  Maybe I’ve been to harsh on the Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts or whatever the heck his title happens to be all these years.


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