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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clea's Finest Moment

Clea made several guest appearances in the Defenders well before joining the team. Relegated to the role of romantic interest and mystic trainee, however, she stayed overshadowed by Dr. Strange. As a result, it is easy to forget that this mysterious woman from another dimension was instrumental in the team's second mission. This somber tale was one of Clea's strongest issues.

Marvel Feature #2 began with an evil sect plotting to bring the dread Dormammu to Earth on Halloween, when the barriers between dimensions were weakest. Detecting the threat, Dr. Strange traveled in astral form to hold off Dormammu in the Dark Dimension. But moving his consciousness to the astral plane left the magician physically unconscious and vulnerable. Dormammu's followers broke into the Sanctum Sanctorum, left Wong badly beaten, and abducted Dr. Strange's body, intending to bring Dormammu into the sorcerer's physical form.

Responding to Wong's call for help, Clea used Dr. Strange's mystical amulet (the Eye of Agamotto) to locate Sub-Mariner and Hulk. Still an inexperienced spell-caster at this point, Clea used hypnosis to prompt Hulk to revert to Bruce Banner, then outlined a rescue plan. Clea also brought a change of clothes so the tattered Dr. Banner and swim-trunk-clad Sub-Mariner could remain incognito until entering the sect's remote headquarters at Bald Mountain.

Banner took tranquilizers to stay calm and not become Hulk prematurely. This cooperation showed Banner's trust in the Defenders to act as superego to Hulk's impulsive id. When time came to transform, Hulk willingly followed Sub-Mariner's lead even without knowing why they were fighting the cloaked opponents.

Near the end of the battle, Clea's magic revealed that Dr. Strange had been drawing energy from Wong to remain in astral form longer than usual and keep Dormammu at bay. As the gateway to the Dark Dimension sealed, trapping Dormammu, Bald Mountain volcanically erupted. Dr. Strange, now conscious within his physical body, flew Clea and Wong to safety, while Hulk and Sub-Mariner smashed out from under the rubble.

Marvel Feature. Vol. 1. No. 2. March 1972. "Nightmare on Bald Mountain." Stan Lee (editor), Roy Thomas (writer), Ross Andru (artist), Sal Buscema (inker), Sam Rosen (letterer). The image of Clea appeared in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Dr. Strange first met Clea during his initial battle against Dormammu (Strange Tales #126-127). Dr. Strange received his cloak of levitation and the Eye of Agamotto at the end of that adventure.

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