RETRO REVIEW: Marvel Premiere # 3

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and be careful out there on Black Friday!  Just to mix things up and throw you a bit of a curve, this week I’m going to stay with Marvel Comics, and also with Marvel Premiere, this time issue # 3.  This issue is cover dated July 1972 and features; Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts.  Right off the bat, a nice montage cover grabs you, pencilled by Barry Windsor Smith, though he was still just Barry Smith, back in 1972 and inked by Frank Giacoia.  Here’s that cover for you!

Marvel Premiere # 3, July 1972

The story was plotted by Barry Smith, with dialogue by the man himself, Stan Lee.  Barry also pencilled the book and the interior inks were provided by Dan Adkins.  The story is entitled; “While The World Spins Mad!”  The story opens with Dr. Strange walking along Bleeker Street in the rain, lost in thought. Abruptly he senses danger, possibly evil.  In fact he’s is so focused on finding that danger/evil that he is almost hit by a truck as he crosses the street!

He makes it home, where he settles down into a mystic trance and frees his ectoplasmic or astral form.  He seeks counsel with the Ancient One.  The Ancient One refuses to identify the danger to Strange and only says that the one that threatens his disciple is known to him and that “his power is his secret and his secret is his power!”

Before Strange can return to his corporal form, another takes possession of his mortal body, leaving him trapped in his ectoplasmic state!  Strange is forced to do battle with himself and his now possessed body!  During the battle Strange’s astral form actually reaches out and touches his corporal form!  How is this possible the reader wondered?  As did Dr. Strange!

Strange’s body attempts to fling himself through the window to it’s death, but Strange’s astral self pulls it back from harm, only to lose the ability to hold his mortal body and it slips from his ectoplasmic fingers.  As the body falls, Strange dives into his own falling body and regains control before crashing to his death! Strange now finds himself in a weird landscape where the trees have his face.  In fact everywhere Strange looks, he sees his own face, in the leaves, in the flowers, even in the clouds!

They all claim that Strange has gone mad, but he is able to call upon the Eye of Agamotto (an aside, anyone remember the comic book store in Ann Arbor, MI named the Eye of Agamotto?) before he truly goes mad .  The Eye reveals to Strange that when he was out walking, he was really struck down by the truck and that he now lies in a hospital, in a coma!

And upon that realization, the “villain” of the book reveals himself!  It’s none other than, Nightmare, who’s “secret is my power and my power is my secret!”  as he so kindly tells Dr. Strange.  We then see a battle on two fronts, against Nightmare in Dr. Strange’s mind and against the hospital doctors and orderlies in the “real world”!

Strange manages to overcome Nightmare, though Nightmare does reveal that is yet another, who plots to take over the Earth, and who has pitted Nightmare against our hero.  Though Strange attempts to uncover that villain, Nightmare manages to keep silent, though he does ask Dr. Strange to join him and merge his magics with his own!  Of course Dr. Strange declines and awakens in the hospital.  Upon recovering he erases the memory of the night’s events from the hospital staffs minds, as “many things there are that mankind must not know”!

As the book closes, Strange once again walks the streets of New York, wondering who the nameless menace is that threatens the world and that he must face it alone!  So the story brings the reader back to where we joined it, pretty much right where we/it started.  Nicely done, Stan and Barry, nicely done!

I give this issue four (4) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings!  Wow, only three issues into this new Marvel series and we’ve had a couple of excellent stories with excellent art.  Marvel definitely had the beginning of a hit upon it’s hands!  First introducing Warlock, and now bringing back Dr. Strange.  Dr. Strange would continue in Marvel Premiere for eleven more issues and introduce another super artist by the name of Frank Brunner in a couple more issues, before introducing yet another new character, but I’ll save that for next week!  I hope you’ll be back for that!

This is Greg Turner signing off, take care and be safe!


About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.

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