Welcome back gang! It’s time for a new RETRO REVIEW and this week I’ve ventured into the Marvel Comics section of the comic book vault and pulled out Doctor Strange # 169, cover dated June 1968. It is the first issue of the good Doctor’s self-titled series. Previously, the ol’ doc had shared Strange Tales with first, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, and “bashful” Benjamin Grimm, the “ever-lovin” Thing and then with good ol’ Nick Fury and his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But they split into their own separate books after issue # 168, with Doc’s new series continuing with the same numbering sequence. Hence, his very first issue was not a number one (1), but a one hundred and sixty-nine (169).
Here is the cover for that comic:
As you can see proclaimed on the cover, the story within features Doc’s origin story, at last! Well, that’s not entirely true, as Doc’s origin had originally been told in Strange Tales # 115, cover dated December 1963. So this was four and a half years later, and presumably a lot of current Marvel readers had not seen this story. This issue appears to be entitled; “Now Unto Us Is Born … The Magician!”. A pretty cool title, at least in my humble opinion. The cover artwork is pencilled and inked by Dan Adkins, and a very nice illustration it is!
But once you open the cover of the comic, you’ll see the actual title of the story is; “The Coming of Dr. Strange”, a much more pedestrian title, again in my opinion. The story is written by Roy Thomas and the interior art, is again provided, both pencils and inks, by Dan Adkins. Adkins wouldn’t stick around for long, but he did a nice job of things for the short time he drew Doctor Strange.
The first three and a half pages have Doc in the present (well, the 1968 present anyway) and then flashes back retelling of his time as a very successful surgeon. his arrogance and his automobile accident which caused him to not be able to hold a scalpel steadily, thus ending his career.
Strange spiralled down and down, drowning in drink, until he overhears a conversation in a dockside bar. Two men are talking about an “ancient one”, located somewhere in the far east, high amongst the Himalayas who can cure anything. Strange makes up his mind to travel there and find this ancient one.
Another three pages are spent showing Strange’s hard travels, until he finally comes upon the Ancient One in an ancient temple high in the Himalayas. Stephen Strange “demands” that he be healed. The Ancient One refuses and Strange thinks he is a faker, a charlatan!
The weather turns bad and Strange is told he can remain there until he is ready to leave and the Ancient One introduces him to his pupil, Mordo. Strange senses something troubling about Mordo and spies upon him. Strange then witnesses Mordo attempting to summon the Dread Dormammu. Mordo discovers Strange and puts a spell on him, so that he can not speak and reveal his plan, which is directed against the Ancient One.
Strange tries to tell the Ancient One, but the Ancient One doesn’t need Stephen Strange’s warning or help. He knows of Mordo’s plots. The Ancient One frees Strange from Mordo’s spells and Stephen decides to remain in the temple and learn from the Ancient One. Thus ending the twenty (20) page retelling of Doctor Strange’s origin which Stan Lee and Steve Ditko told in only eight (8) pages back in 1963.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, yeah I know, what’s keeping me? Well, maybe writing these things, for one thing! But I suspect that the Marvel movie will have at least touched base on some of these same ideas. I hope to find out for myself within the week.
So hoped you have enjoyed this look back to Doctor Strange’s origin from Doctor Strange # 169 and please return next week for a new Fabulous Find, and of course, I’ll be back in two weeks with another new RETRO REVIEW. Til then, enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see ya right here on Black Friday!