Let's get to it, shall we. We've waited a YEAR for these...
BEST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:
Actually, not too many "good" appearances this year. So sad to be a Doctor Strange fan.
The runner's up:
- Marvel Zombies3 # 3 -
BAD. But funny. So... kinda good.
Basically, for those who didn't read it... Doc has been reduced to a nearly mindless lotus-position hovering, drooling, head-tilted-to-the-side "ohm"-chanting mystical doorman.
He's only in one or two panels, but his appearance in this book... sad as it is... is gold.
- Spider-Man Family # 7 -
Sitting down to tea with "The Looter". Nice, quiet and helpful Stephen Strange. A small appearance, but I liked it.
- Marvel Adventures : Hulk # 8 -
"Strangely" it seems many of the "good" appearances this year were "kiddie comix". Strange in this is NOT the 616 version, but another "Adventures" retooling. Not great, but nothing done to outright destroy the character. Nothing to HELP him either, really. But still, it held it's own for what it was.
- New Avengers # 37 -
Huzzah! Doc isn't treated as being useless! Conjures up illusions of other heroes and then tackles - and defeats - the Hood & his demon in a very cool scene.
Sadly, it leads to the utterly weak New Avengers Annual # 2 (and the even weaker revelation of the Hood's demon being DORMAMMU?!?, but none of that bull is shown in this appearance), but that can't take away from a decent appearance.
- Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 5 -
My write up for this comic can be found HERE.
I still have many "issues" with this comic (all can be found in my write-up - including another pointless retooling of his origin) and it is FAR from perfect, but even with those failings it handles Doctor Strange in a very positive and respectful manner - doing a lot to ADD to the overall strength of his characterization and abilities. I wish there was something BETTER, from the "616" Marvel Universe proper, to give the award to, but with nothing better having come out in 2008 (of course, after I publish this, I'll be reminded of that ONE fabulous issue of something)... the award goes to this issue.
-------------WORST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:
Far, far too many this year. And I didn't even include ALL of the bad ones...
- New Avengers Annual # 2 -
Killed. Then, brought back (via ZOM-energies - which was alright) then runs away after having a ZOM-trum. Leaving his Sanctum & all his talismans to whomever is going to snatch them up. weak.
- Giant Sized Avengers # 1 -
2 panels and "borrowing the physics of another dimension" to make a mind-meld/ history replay? Isn't that one of the uses for the EYE of Agamotto?
- Marvel Zombies3 # 3 -
OK. It was FUNNY (and good to see he didn't get killed outright by the car avalanche back in the first issue of the first series). But this? Braindead/undead Strange? Sad. So sad.
- Cable/Deadpool # 46,47,48 -
Having Deadpool KILL other-dimensional denizens for their mystical energies to bring another villain back to life? What??
- Amazing Spider-Man # 555 -
One spell & faints; "totally spent"? Beautifully DRAWN, but crap!
- Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men # 1 -
Only a few panels but rendered UTTERLY USELESS! Knocked out (again!) without doing ANYTHING, and then slept through all the meaty part (where the Eye Of Agamotto would have allowed him to perceive the unreality and be the hero) and then forced back to consciousness by Spider-Man beating on him (thankfully off-panel) and then shown to be USELESS again! Better that he STAYED unconscious.
BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):
- Brother Voodoo in: New Avengers # 29 & 30 -
oh? That was from 2007? Crap! I wasn't blogging then. And it WAS REALLY GOOD! Oh well... but the collected edition came out in 2008, right? Does that count? No? Damn.
- Brother Voodoo in: Cable/Deadpool # 48 -
Treated with respect and given a little more than the usual background appearance.
Sadly, only a LITTLE more than that, I'm afraid.
- Man-Thing in: X-Men First Class # 8 or # 11 -
Both are good. # 8 is a nice full story guest-starring role, but # 11 has a cameo with the most adorably-drawn (by Colleen Coover) rendition ever seen. As a plus, that little cameo is an important part of the story.
- Nighthawk in : Last Defenders -
Not a good series, but Nighthawk is truly the heart of the team. That was emphasized here. He comes across as a bit whiny in places and ineffectual, but in the end he wins out and outmaneuvers Tony Stark and the Initiative.
- Clea in : King Size Spider-Man Summer Special #1 -
A competent, heroic showing! Able to discern the evil nature of the threat all by herself, and assemble the team to take down the Enchantress. No Dr. Strange involvement of any kind. No helplessness. WIN!
WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):
- Black Knight in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 7 -
Fooled by a fake Ebony Blade? It might be too early to call on this, since that storyline continues in upcoming issues.
I'll give the writer, Paul Cornell, some leeway. He's earned it.
- Man-Thing in : Marvel Comics Presents # 12 -
Cute story idea (Man-Thing being given an order to join the "Initiative"), but not a good depiction of Manny. It shows him acting somewhat via conscious THOUGHT, and even aggressive behavior where he would normally just take the abuse, shrugging it off.
It is also one of the very few instances where he is shown to be able to utter SOUNDS (in this case a cry of pain).
I'm not averse to the occasional utterance. Once in awhile, it's alright. So long as it's not actual WORDS, I'm cool with it. Still, not a great appearance (but nicely drawn). I will say that I'm intrigued by the main antagonist being able to walk off with a dried up Man-Thing head (while the swamp would reconstitute him again in a new body). It adds a strange layer to the mythos to think that if one would just "add water" to that head, there's be TWO Manny's
Not bad enough to garner the "top" slot.
- Son of Satan in : - Last Defenders -
I'm on the fence with this one. It might even have been a "BEST OF" appearance, but it felt forced. He tried to be a student of the Ancient One before Strange? Fine. I'll go with it. Trying to atone and come to grips with himself and his powers? That's been a staple for him, so... OK. That final armored costume? Ghastly. Overall, not a great take on Daimon Hellstrom. As I stated, a bit forced. However, I will grant that with his good/bad personal schism, it might be true that he'd try his hand at the hero thing again.
- Jennifer Kale in : Man-Thing : Dead of Night - Issue # 2
A retelling/updating of Manny's origin isn't necessary. Why does Marvel DO this all the time? You don't have to reinvent the damned wheel! And even though the entire Mini-series was just a wank-fest for gratuitous cheesecake and violence, it DID have a few redeeming parts. However, that just isn't enough to excuse the bad stripper-demon-witch-woman that they turned Jennifer Kale into with this.
BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):
- Master Pandemonium in : Young Avengers Presents # 3 -
I must say that this was a VERY GOOD issue from top to bottom. Wiccan & Speed (Scarlet Witch's sons) are on a road-trip to discover the whereabouts of their mother and fall into the "lair" of Master Pandemonium; who was once the whole big-bad to the "imaginary sons of Wanda" magilla.
Master P is given some depth and pathos here. A really good turn and almost the winner of this award.
- Magic Skrull in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 3 (multiple consecutive issues) -
An awesome visual with nearly all the mystical swag and power-up items from the Marvel Universe. Still, pretty much JUST a visual though.
- Nightmare in : Incredible Hercules # 118 -
Taking a step from his 1990's mini-series wherein he used machines to extract fear, he is now using a variation on that in his domain. And finally, an appearance where he ISN'T trying to quit the job of "Lord of Dreams". As of late, that's all he's been trying to do - escape his role. However, with this issue, he steps up to the plate to take down Godlings.
- Dr. Doom in : - Mighty Avengers # 10 -
With the exception of a few minor false steps - character wise, it was a very good appearance for DOOM. Right down to the end with his double-crossing Iron-Man and trying to blow him (and the Mighty Avengers) up.
- Dr. Plokta in : - Captain Britain & MI-13 # 6 (multiple consecutive issues)
Plokta nearly wins if for no other reason, than that he's a cool new villain with an interesting look (in not wholly original - he's the "bad" Eternity lookalike). If he IS the creator of the Mindless Ones, that just adds to the mythos. However, his "dream corridor" is enough to garner him some serious attention.
- "Nisilette the Unimaginable" in : - Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 5 -
I DO truly like the addition of an other-dimensional entity who would surely spell the end of all things... IF she were to be "imagined" into existence from the void. A very nice, very welcome imaginative addition to Strange's gallery of mystic entities and possible adversaries.
WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):
- Yandroth in : Last Defenders -
Like Nighthawk & Son of Satan from this same series, this appearance and characterization just seemed a bit forced (to me, anyway). It certainly was head and shoulders above his LAST appearance, as a bulbous-headed troll-like "Sorcerer" from the last DEFENDERS "series". However, while bringing him back to his Scientific roots and Machiavellian scheming, it seemed a "quantum-jump" of ability (such as his "quantum-jumping" in the series). I approve of his newfound "strength of ability, but his whole "the Defenders as a cosmic recipe" left me cold - and not wanting to leave a tip. (Much less pay for the "meal".)
- Nightmare in : F.F. True Story (mini-series) -
Nightmare's been (mostly) lame for quite a while now. This didn't help him any. A bumbling loser who admits to himself (and all those around him) that perhaps that's all he's supposed to be?!? No. That's just the fault of Marvel writer's and editorial. Nightmare can and should be the creepiest bugaboo that makes you cower at every shadow and the thought of falling asleep should keep you awake.
- Dormammu in : New Avengers # 46 -
WHAT? Dormammu is the demonic "benefactor" of THE HOOD's... hood?
Where the hell did THAT come from?
- Dr. Doom in : - Mighty Avengers # 11 -
With spoken dialogue and inner thoughts so totally WRONG to what Doom would normally speak/think. This is the issue with the internet-meme "Cow-Mouth" and "Whore's heart" rant that proves that writer Brian Michael Bendis is just in love with his OWN writing, no matter from WHOM he has the words emanate. Characterization epic fail.
BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:
- Ghost Rider -
Honestly, this thing has become quite good the past year.
The "G.R. is and has always been an ANGEL" aspect is unnecessary, and seems to be mere plot-twist for the sake of change window-dressing, as the rest of the new direction is flat-out GOLD. The great stories could still be achieved with the old dynamic, however.
- Captain Britain & MI-13 -
The best little supernatural "Defenders" title out there!
Words can't describe it. The only thing that it needs is some DOCTOR STRANGE!
And, here's hoping for an appearance by Mortigan Goth in 2009!
WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:
- NEW AVENGERS -
This came SO CLOSE to "winning" the "Worst Title" slot. SO CLOSE.
However, the series as a WHOLE isn't bad (well... not always), just the portion that had Doc as a member (and not even ALL of that). Doc was just a bad fit from start to finish with this low-level team. It was nice to see him trying to help out the "underground" heroes, but the fact that he didn't just make all the other team-mates redundant by his sheer vast ability made me think back to the worst of the old Defenders series, where he's fighting the Sons of the Serpent and getting conked on the head to keep him from single-handedly solving the problem.
Low-level street thugs should NOT be the primary fight for the Sorcerer Supreme. Heck, not even for a Master of the Mystic Arts.
No. Brian Michael Bendis' ham-handling of Strange throughout (and in the Illuminati - which was itself a New Avengers spin-off) was not respectful to the character. Certainly, Bendis gave Strange a few nice touches; such as the mysteriously hidden Sanctum Sanctorum, and he had Strange pull out some cool spells; like ones to make the Mighty Avengers wet themselves, or to cause the HAND ninjas to zone out, as well as the "hide-and-seek" with Brother Voodoo. However many of his spells and abilities; such as his astral form going to detect if the"captured Captain America" was the real deal, or like the "Spell of Tartashi" which would detect if anyone had bad intentions was a failure, and fortunately for "Skruller-Woman" the spell to determine what the heroes "true natures" are was cast after she defected.
Those just seemed to be there to give merit to the Skrull's "total" genetic (mind & body) makeovers. While "Spider-Woman" is shown to be doubled over after the "good intent" spell, she obviously was able to thwart it.
The Eye of Agamotto would have been able to penetrate ANY disguise - no matter HOW complete. It "reveals TRUTH". End of story. Anything else is merely a writer's device to prop up their poor story structure.
The poor writing is also evident in the mock latin spell casting. Instead of coming up with good (or even rhyming) spells Bendis simply tosses "Miftana Fantadada"around.
While it might be fun to say that (or "Zanyatta Mondatta" or "Roseanne Rosannadanna" or "Bananarama") Strange ALREADY has a full list of entities and spells with which to perform his feats. If you don't want to get all rhymey ("Seven rings hath Ragadorr, indigo to deepest black, may Oshtur grant me something more; the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!), then at the very least use his Mystical Entities and principalities in short-form; "By the Images of Ikonn", "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!" or, since Bendis likes a good cuss-word, lift something from Brian K. Vaughan's 'The Oath'; "By the Hoary #@$%^ng Hosts!"
Still, there WERE some good points in the run and the series overall, and as such avoids the dubious "honor".
- LAST DEFENDERS (mini-series)-
I saw what Joe Casey was going for, but it didn't make it. Not even close. Add that to the fact that he makes the Ancient One pull the old "Stephen Strange is the CHOSEN ONE" bullshit... which is a peeve, and flat out wrong for the origin of Strange to really work. Still, the team members are weak and the passing of the Nighthawk costume (in a move that was broadcast from the first issue) is poor treatment of one of Marvel's great unsung heroes.
BEST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:
- Marvels ; Eye of the Camera # 1 - (as seen HERE)
- Amazing Spider-Man # 560-
Marcos Martin adds Dr. Strange to an art show at the MoMA, with an Andy Warholian print.
WORST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:
- No such thing this year. They were ALL appreciated!
BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:
- Daniel Danger's SANCTUM SANCTORUM limited edition art print
(from the Gallery1988's "Tribute to Stan Lee" show - seen HERE.)
I love it and am still waiting to hang it prominently in my own Sanctum Sanctorum.
- Dr. Strange 'toon tumblers - (as seen HERE & HERE).
- Dormammu hand-painted lead figure -
From the UK's "Classic Marvel Figurine Collection".
A nice piece of swag that comes with a magazine that gives all the info on the Lord of the Dark Dimension.
- Dr. Strange hero-clix (from the Secret Invasion line) -
Shown seated in the "lotus position" with ASTRAL form emerging (which is something that I've been petitioning - really - to happen with an Action figure or statue). However, the face on the sculpt looks more Groucho Marx than Stephen Strange.
- CLEA HEROCLIX (from the Secret Invasion line) -
Just because it's ABOUT TIME she got some merchandise love! A good sculpt in a positive pose, holding a spell book (perhaps the Book of the Vishanti - or the personal spell-book she was given by Stephen Strange way back when). What's NOT to love?
WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:
- Triple-A Baseball Heroes comic -
It's great to give some promotional goodies out for the masses - anything to bring in new readers who might not already be comic book readers, but at least try to make some SENSE. Doctor Strange is sent up against the Mole Man's hoards while protecting the minor league baseball park in Durham, NC.
He's only in one small panel... so maybe this would ALSO be "Worst Easter-Egg" as well? But still, it gets people to see comic heroes who might not normally do so... not all bad.
- Marvel "MasterPieces" 2008 card sets (series 2 & series 3) - & - VS cards -
THIS is CRAP.
A baseless money-grab. Many cards reuse old artwork (many from OTHER older card sets as well!) and then have some sets be printed in three forms (regular, gold bordered & holofoil), so that if you're a collector, you have to get the same card(s) THREE TIMES - and some of them are NOT cheap.
Even if they didn't come in multiple formats, releasing two, nearly identical sets of cards (even WITH some differences and new subsets) is merely greedily preying upon the collector's mentality and good-will.
-------------BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:
BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:
Dr. Orpheus - from THE VENTURE BROS. animated show on Cartoon Network.
WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:
I honestly don't recall seeing any this year. But, I hadn't looked all that hard.
- A new DR. STRANGE series -
Possibly to spin out of his recent misfortunes from New Avengers / World War Hulk? Anyone who has been reading of promised further exploits of Doctor Strange as long as I have will doubtless be wary of believing this outright.
- A DR. STRANGE movie -
A film to be put on fast-track with possible direction by Guillermo del Toro and a possible writer in Neil Gaiman and a possible star in Christian Bale.
I'll possibly believe this as it possibly gets closer to possibly being possibly real.
I've personally read at least 3 Dr. Strange "movie" scripts from projects that were "possibly" being made. (None of the scripts were any good, btw).
- ROM SPACEKNIGHT rights being filed / renewed by Hasbro -
As I blogged about HERE.
What this could mean is exciting! And yet... could just be a placeholder.
- Neither or ALL. -
Promises are all well and good, but BOTH of those DR STRANGE news-bits have been made several times over the past decade or so.
The ROM news is good. Let's hope for at LEAST an action figure!
WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:
- No DOC in Secret Invasion -
After being promised that he WOULD play an important part. However, seeing as how S.I. was a freaking MESS that was nowhere NEAR what the hype would have led us to believe, it might have been for the best.
Sadly, the news came LONG after I ordered and paid for my multiple copies of the mini series and tie-ins. All on that flimsy promise that Doc would be a player,
WHEN will I learn?
- A New Sorcerer Supreme? -
DOC to be hobbled and having his title stripped from him?
ANOTHER tear-down of a character that doesn't NEED to be rebuilt.
Joe Q stated in a recent interview (HERE) that Strange is a character that could never support a series... unlike Moon Knight who is now in a series "for years".
(Moon Knight's only had his new series for 2 years, Joe. Let me know when Moon Knight EVER gets to 80 or 90 issues, which is pretty much what issue Doc has been rebooted or canceled. And even THAT doesn't count, since Doc's 2nd series ended with issue # 81 and was IMMEDIATELY swept into the 2nd Strange Tales series, which detailed his fall and rise from the dark arts (sound familiar?) and then went IMMEDIATELY into his 3rd series, which lasted another 90 issues. The best Moonie's ever done is 60 issues.)
"Definitely NOT the Winner":
- Steve Gerber died. -
Creator / Writer of Howard the Duck & one of the best to ever handle Man-Thing and the Defenders (and anything ELSE he lay his pen upon)... his passing was tragic.
- ULTIMATUM will bring about the demise of Doctor Strange "Jr". (At least I HOPE so.)
If not... get him to step up as a character. He suxx the way he is.
- The "New" Sorcerer Supreme will be a temporary storyline.
If Marvel was going to toss Strange out the window, they'd have done so by now without the past few years of wreaking total havoc to his status quo.
- Night Nurse will no longer be linked to Strange romantically.
A nice diversion and a really good idea (it added to Strange's supporting cast, which once was strong, but over the years had been culled by bad crossovers and multiple re-workings).
Sadly, IF she's seen again, it won't be as his girlfriend. At least, not for very long after his return.
- Man-Thing won't have a new series.
He WILL appear in a few guest shots.
Maybe a one-shot or special project will be released.
- ROM Spaceknight has had his rights re-registered by Hasbro.
That won't manifest in a new comic series (at least not in 2009).
And it might not be by Marvel.
ROM may very well get an action figure however.
- The Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog will have a LOT of GREAT stuff here for all of 2009!
THAT's a prediction we all want to come true!
Thanks for stopping by.
Any thoughts, criticisms, agreeing and/or differing opinions?
Discuss them in the comments section.
* Award image at top of the post is a re-tooled image from Strange Tales v1 # 117, by Steve Ditko.