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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stephen in Wonderland

At a time when his astral form was trapped inside the Orb of Agamotto, Stephen Strange encountered facsimiles of other heroes, including the earliest members of the Defenders (Dr. Strange #2).

The sorcerer recognized that the other heroes within the orb were in fact impressions from his own subconscious. With that in mind, the way these characters interacted with Dr. Strange in the dream world may have revealed his personal thoughts about them in the outside world.

Borrowing imagery from Wonderland as he adventured inside the orb, the master of the mystic arts was surprised to witness himself slumming at a tea party with other costumed figures.

Interestingly, an homage to Ant-Man was one of the characters napping at the tea party—while scientist Henry Pym had long abandoned his identity as Ant-Man by this point, and no one else had yet picked up the mantle as Ant-Man.

The version of Nick Fury who sat at the table showed the first signs of aggression when he drew a gun at an out-of-place Munchkin. Next, Nick Fury joined with Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, and Black Panther in threatening to kill Dr. Strange, who in turn subdued them with his magic.

Not everyone was so volatile.

Even though the version of Silver Surfer inside the orb did not recognize Dr. Strange, the cosmic champion nonetheless offered to help the master of the mystic arts navigate through the dream world soon after his arrival.

Heralded by the other characters as the "Queen," Valkyrie received everyone's respect when she entered the scene on her flying horse, Aragorn. With more self-awareness than the other figures within the orb, Valkyrie gave Dr. Strange words of wisdom and support.

Dr. Strange #3 found the sorcerer riding on Aragorn as he continued his quest to escape from the maddening dreamland. That issue consisted largely of flashback pages to the first time Dr. Strange met Clea (who was in the clutches of the villain Silver Dagger while Dr. Strange was trapped inside the orb).

Doctor Strange. Vol. 1. No. 2. August 1974. "A Separate Reality." Steve Englehart (author), Frank Brunner (artist & colorist), Dick Giordano (inks), John Costanza (lettering), Roy Thomas (editor).

1 comment:

pblfsda said...

Dr. Strange may or may not have been aware of it, but Hank Pym temporarily gave up being Yellowjacket during the Kree-Skrull War in AVENGERS in 1971. His costume was destroyed when he was devolved into a caveman and attacked Jan. The two of them took a sabbatical to recover after Hank was restored and he returned later in the story arc as Ant-man and journeyed into the paralyzed body of the Vision in a really cool Neal Adams sequence.

When those stories got published, Marvel and DC were both facing increased costs and had to raise their prices. DC stalled by switching all their 32-page books to 48-page books ("Bigger and Better") for 25¢ for a year. Marvel was going to do the same but changed plans at the last minute and only did it for one month (the tenth anniversary of FF #1) then went back to 32-pages for 20¢.

One of the plans they had in mind was to combine IRON MAN and DAREDEVIL into one book and create three giant anthology books to introduce new features (that's why the first two DEFENDERS stories in MARVEL FEATURE were double length). One of the new features they were going to introduce was ANT-MAN, but since the anthologies were going to revert to standard size it had to wait until DEFENDERS got their own book. One installment was used as a back-up feature in IRON MAN, sort of as a teaser to make people seek out the new anthology. ANT-MAN eventually took over MARVEL FEATURE #4-10. Early in 1975 Hank returned to being Yellowjacket in GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS and later that year he and Jan returned to the Avengers after the first phase of the Kang War caused a number of members to leave (also a Steve Englehart series).