Saturday, January 30, 2010

The 2009 SANCTUM AWARDS!

The "Sancty"

WELCOME to the 2nd ANNUAL
"SANCTUM AWARDS"*!
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These awards are to be awarded to the BEST (and WORST) of what 02009 had to offer for the discriminating (and/or desperate as the case usually is) Doctor Strange / "6-Dimensions" fan!

Let's get to it, shall we. We've waited a YEAR for these...


BEST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:

Once again, GOOD Doctor Strange appearances are a rare thing indeed.
Here's what I was able to scrape up:

The Runner ups:
-

- The Age of the Sentry (mini) # 5 -
Only a few panels, but nicely drawn by Nick Dragotta (who also drew the X-StatiX : DeadGirl mini that I loved a few years ago).
Doc and Clea just chillaxin' on a huge pile of cushions, grooving to scented candles, while Sentry comes for aid. And if that wasn't good enough, a last panel "thumb's up" by Doc because Sentry is gonna get some lovin' from his GF. Doc as a cool hipster. Nice.

- Marvel Divas # 2 -
In one of the first appearances after losing the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, Doc is utilizing his abilities as both mystic AND physician to examine Firestar for breast cancer. While the diagnosis is bad, he was still shown to be a caring and helping hero. Add in the fact that Firestar thinks he's "dreamy" looking, AND a rare Night Nurse appearance (as well as a "message" that women should be tested for this horrible disease) and this was a good issue.


- Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular # 1 -
Doc is only in one of several stories in this "non-canon anthology" title, but he was in the "Chris Giarrusso's Mini Marvels" style (which, despite the popularity of the "Super Hero Squad" the "Mini-Marvels" is my preferred manner for all miniature Marvel Hero adventures).
He and Hawkeye team up to save the Avengers. Hilarity ensues.


- Ultimatum # 4 -
Huzzah! "Ultimate" Strange Jr. gets killed dead. YAY!
It's only that I hated this useless version of the character that his death is on a "best of" list.
Actually, this is also in the "WORST of" category, because it is still a killing of a Dr. Strange, which as we all know is far too prevalent.
(Note, this Death of Jr. was one of my predictions from last year's Santum Awards. Go me.)


- Strange v.2 # 2 -
A good showing for the severely depowered Stephen Strange as written by Mark Waid.
It helps establish (or maintain) the seldom-visited aspect of Dr. Strange-as-extradimensional-diplomat, as he is forced to use tact and assuring words instead of mystical forces to accomplish his goal : namely, the smoothing over of a wronged alien-being with whom a pact was accidentally broken.
The culprit behind the broken accord, being a young girl that Strange aids in the previous issue, becomes Doc's newest "apprentice".
The artwork, by Emma Rios, was a huge step forward from the last issue. Even the overly bright palette of colorist Christina Strain, worked very well with the setting and nature of the story.
While, this was a decent appearance, with some good dialogue by Strange, it simply wasn't nearly enough to win any top honors.


- Thor # 602 -
Much as I liked J. Michael Straczynski's handling of Doctor Strange during his tenure on Spider-Man (we won't get into his horrid "Matrix" Neo- Strange v1 mini series of 2004), in his Thor run, JMS shows that he really CAN write Dr. Strange well, with mysticism, deference and respect.
He also writes some good rules and hazards of using powerful magic into the appearance. Joe Quesada (who often says that Doc is too "easy" to write as all powerful) should note how it can be done well.
Thor needs Doc's help to mend his Uru hammer; Mjolner. Doc warns of the perils of such a feat. Thor assents. Doc pulls out some great magic.
A price is paid. Heroes don't balk at such trivialities when lives are in danger. Bibbity-bobbety-Bam! All good.
The moody art by Marko Djurdjevic and Mark Morales didn't hurt any either.
It's a short appearance, lending some credence to Marvel's stance that Doc works best as a guest hero.
Still, it almost won this category, but one other short appearance won out.


The Winner:

- Strange Tales (anthology )#1 -


Only a 4-page short story, this masterwork by indie creator Dash Shaw was a nice mix of classic Ditkoian visuals and mod-1960s/2000's underground sensibilities..
Humorous and yet with a tongue-in-cheek deadly seriousness, this short tale shows a bizarre "battle" between Doc and his "oldest foe"; Nightmare.
The writing is light, with a few groin-grabbingly good jokes, but that's not the true force behind this work.
It is the trippy visuals and hypnotic day-glo colors that truly sell this piece.
(OK. The wry humor is also really excellent.)
Mix in that blend of experimental rough hewn artwork with some good comedic beats and an obvious respect for the character and his original creators, and this was the best Doctor Strange appearance of 2009.
A shame that it took so long to see print, as it was completed years before, and lie on a shelf while marvel was getting around to publishing that indie-creator-fueled anthology series.
Let's hope its success produces even more!

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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:

Far, far too many this year (much like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that...). And I didn't even include ALL of the bad ones...

The Runner ups:
-

- Ultimatum # 4 -

"Ultimate" Strange Jr. gets killed dead. Like a punk. And with no effort.
My review can be found [HERE]
While this is also in the "BEST of" category (because I loathed Strange Jr.), it is still a killing of "a" Dr. Strange, which as we'll see later in this list, is far too prevalent.


- Ultimate Fantastic Four : Requiem # 1 -

Oh yeah, that whole "Doc Jr." gets killed by the biggest, baddest, "Ultimate" Dormammu?
No sweat. The Invisible Woman then snuffs Dormammu with ease.
I was so incensed by this issue that I wrote a scathing review of it [HERE].


- Dr. Doom & the Masters of Evil # 1 -

This (hopefully out-of-continuity) story has Mysterio able to make Dr. Strange ill with his illusions. It's a bit of a mildly confusing read, but the only "out" for this treatment is because Mysterio has a device given to him by Dr. Doom that augments his abilities.
Still... not good.


- Avengers / Invaders maxie-series -

It takes awhile for Strange to appear in this series, then when he does, he's not all that useful, and then, JUST as the meaty part is about to go down, he gets "killed" off. Swept from the board to prevent his being able to "magic" the problem away.


- Marvel Apes specials -

Truthfully, this isn't even an "appearance" as the Ape version of Doc is killed off before the series even starts, so as to make it impossible for him to snap his fingers (or fling magical poo) and make the problems go away.
It's stuff like that which gets me poo-flingingly upset to be a Doc fan.


- Dark Reign : Fantastic Four # 3 -

Alternate reality version of Doc (and the Illuminati) killed with ease by the Reed Richards of that universe. More punk-style killing of the Sorcerer Supreme.


- Hulk # 12 -

I had problems with this entire 3-issue arc, but in this final issue of the story, Doc is killed off in one panel, with no effort by, and giving no resistance to, a Power-Cosmic enhanced Red Hulk.
Each of the other time-displaced versions of the Defenders (and their evil counterparts' the Offenders) get to at least put up a showing of fighting back. Doc and Mordo get blasted to atoms in one panel, because the creative team seemed to have been running out of room to wrap up the tale. *sigh* Oh well... aside from Ed McGuinness' bombastic artwork it's not as though Jeph Loeb's story was even remotely good, anyway.


The "Winner":

- New Avengers # 51-54 (Search for the Sorcerer Supreme arc) -


While I truly enjoy reading New Avengers, despite Brian M. Bendis' multiple character-behavior / dialogue-tick transgressions (except for Spider-man... and maybe Spider-Woman and Luke Cage - seriously, I'd read a Bendis-penned Spidey/Cage buddy book in a heartbeat) his treatment of Doctor Strange is by far the most offending transgression of all his writer's failings.
Strange's treatment by bendis over the past few years has been nothing short of depressing; with poor choices by the character, unexplained fluctuations in abilities, the foregoing of his mystic mantle and acting like a mope, Bendis' Stephen Strange is a completely different character than the one that Marvel has published for lo' these past 46 years.
I'm not against change. Nor am I against the occasional "power-loss" story.
But, while I am sure that Strange will rise up again to a place of power as befitting his long, rich history, the current handling of the character has been poor and almost disrespectful.
I don't doubt that Bendis likes the character.
The simple fact that he's put a lot of work into the entire enterprise of reworking Strange shows that.
However, it seems to be a tearing down, with no "building-up" in sight.
Is that all Bendis' fault? No. These things are planned out years in advance by a creator's conference.
I am sure there is a plan for the eventual return to greatness.
I am merely saying that the issues in this arc were the worst appearances of Doctor Strange in 2009.
I don't expect anything good to happen for Doc until 2011 or early 2012.

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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

The Runner ups:


- Werewolf by Night in: Dead of Night mini-series -
It's been a long time since I've read ANYTHING this good about an Nth tier character.
Gory and violent as all hell... but writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Mico Suayan crafted a thoroughly enjoyable tale.


- The Ancient One in: Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 9 -
I had written a long review of the issue [HERE], but the long and short of it is that a short appearance by the Ancient One was one of his best appearances in the history of the character.
In the space of only one page, writer, Paul Tobin and artists Jacopo Camagni, Norman Lee and Guru-EfX gave us an Ancient One to remember, as he is shown fighting against Dormamu in a mystical battle that lasted weeks.
(The rest of the issue was not completely to my liking, but that one page was awesome.)


- Clea (as Cleook); in : Marvel Apes : Prime Eight special -

OK. It sucks, because as I mentioned earlier, there's no Dr. Strange (plus, it's more annoying ape comics that Marvel drove into the ground almost as much as the Zombies).
Still, it DOES feature CLEA. And, she's actually handled very well in this.
So, I have to list it as a positive appearance.
But, she's a furry ape-thing in it and that costs it consideration for any prize.


- Man-Thing & "Midnight Sons" in: Marvel Zombies4 mini-series -

A powerful showing for Man-Thing, as he is used as the familiar to sorceress Jennifer Kale. Man-Thing throws down with the evil forces of magic in the final issues and in the process sets off the Zombie-head Deadpool ready for his own spin-off run.
While the rest of the "Midnight Sons" in this mini aren't the "classic" version of the "team", (with the exception of Morbius, the Living Vampire) it is still nice to see the name being used, and Marvel's "monster-squad" heroes, (Manny, Morbius, Kale, Werewolf & Hellstrom,) in the forefront.


- Sheriff John Daltry in: Captain Britain & MI-13 # 14 -

I had long ago squeed about the return of old Man-Thing villain, Captain Fate in the pages of this title.
As revealed in this issue of Captain Britain & MI13, when Black Knight defeated him in swordplay, removing the Magus Blade from his possession, Captain Fate was revealed to be Sheriff Daltry.
Y'see...long-time human hero, Sheriff Daltry, from waaaaaaay back in the Man-Thing v2 series, had succumbed to the curse of the Captain Fate's Magus Sword and was possessed by the blade.
Seemingly freed of the blade when in battle with the demon Thog years ago, no one realized that he was not truly free of it's sway.
At the end of that Man-Thing series, readers never saw Daltry again.
Now we know why.
That is why Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk are awesome.


- Man-Thing in: X-Men : First Class : Finals # 3 -

Another entry that I penned a brief review [HERE], this adorable Man-Thing appearance by writer Jeff Parker and artist Colleen Coover just hit me exactly in the right place.
The only thing that kept this out of the top slot was one error that showed Man-Thing as being cognitive.
Otherwise, it wss beautiful.


The Winner:

- Brother Voodoo in : Doctor Voodoo : Avenger of the Supernatural (mini)-series # 1 -


While the most esteemed Neilalien states that he sees this title as Voodoo eating Strange's lunch (and he's not wrong, really), I tend to look at it from the vantage point of; "Hey. I LIKE Brother Voodoo and am happy to see him FINALLY be treated as anything other than a joke or a two-dimensional stereotype".
Yes, in a perfect world it would not have required Dr. Strange to be taken down at the knees for Voodoo to ascend to "Doctor Voodoo" status, but the fact of the matter is this title is kicking all kinds of ass for me.
Doctor Voodoo, Hellstorm, Dr. Doom, Nightmare, Doctor Strange as a tutor, mystic heroes, ancient gods and curses, magical pantheons and realms, a cameo appearance by Shuma-Gorath... this series has been dynamite thus far.
The artwork is a little rough, but it works, as the entire framework of Voodoo's current situation is on unsure footing. The sketchy artwork by artist Jefte Paolo lends itself to that feeling of unpolished power and status, while colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu adds enough hues to ensure the magic is real.
Also, my other gripe is that while this series originally was started as an ongoing, it has been truncated to a 5-issue mini-series, supposedly due to poor sales (which I unfortunately foresaw when the series was first announced).
Rick Remender is writing an excellent story that, sadly, should have been Doctor Strange's.
Only half of the mini came out in 2009, and this award is being presented primarily for issue # 1, so the series might even be in the running next year as well.
Really, some excellent joob-joob.

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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

The Runner Ups:
-

- Clea (as Cleook); in : Marvel Apes : Prime Eight special -

Well... I DID say that it kinda sucked, right?
Clea is cool and all, but as a she-monkey? No thanks.


- Black Knight in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 15 -

Defeated soundly by Dracula in swordplay with one slash of a blade. I know it was to set up Faisa, the new wielder of Excalibur, as a serious badass when she would then kill Drac, but still... Dane Whitman didn't get in one parry.
Lame.


- Mortigan Goth; Immortalis in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 15 -

Oh, wait. He wasn't even IN the issue (or ANY of the issues in the series)! Despite the fact that (almost) every UK character was there, at least in brief appearances, to help wrap up the series.
Unfortunately, for some reason, Immortalis; a UK-based magic user character was a no-show in a title devoted to UK-based magic users.
I can only hope that if the title would have survived the shopping block, that Mortigan would have returned.


- Son of Satan in : - Doctor Voodoo # 2

Hellstrom has been seen practically everywhere lately.
I'm happy to see these dark corner monster/horror heroes being given the limelight these days.
However, this time it was just a misstep.
Son of Satan had his body usurped by Nightmare.
NIGHTMARE!
Nightmare is cool and all, and seems to have his A-game going on for this gambit, but just the previous bunch of months, he's been a freakin' mess and getting his ass handed to him soundly by everyone from Hercules to Johnny Storm and Britney Spears (no, really).
So, for Damian to be taken out so easily (and then to have his body further inhabited by Daniel Drumm; Brother Voodoo's brother) is a low point for the character.


The "Winner":

- Eternity in : Mighty Avengers # 30 -


I have ranted about this many times over the years on the interwebs, but it was once where NO ONE save one or two mystics even KNEW of the existence of Eternity.
When Doctor Strange first found him, it was after a long and arduous quest, and only then because he was allowed into the presence of the embodiment of all there is.
Over the past decade or so, just about everyone (even Pip the Troll), has been able to just pop in to chat with Eternity.
And worst of all, they treat him with no deference.
Over the years, this lack of grandeur has also affected Eternity him/it-self, having him/it behave and speak like a regular shmoe.
In this issue of Mighty Avengers, Eternity calls upon Hank Pym (now known as the Wasp) and bestows upon him the rank and title of; "Scientist Supreme".
Now THAT in and of itself is totally rad.
Sure, why wouldn't Eternity be an entity who could dole out that title.
And Pym is ripe for such an honor, having long been defined by one low point in his fictional history.
By all means, I do not condone his slapping around of his wife (the first Wasp), but he did it when in a mental breakdown.
Cut the guy a little slack.
(Plus, Jan sometimes needed a backhand, Y'know? KIDDING!... Kidding.)

Anyway, in this issue, Eternity puts some serious back-alley shit-kicking moves on Pym. Treating him like the way Pym thinks the universe has and should treat him.
It's not the first time Eternity has been shown to physically engage in fisticuffs, but it's always wrong.
Even back in one of his earliest appearances, when Dormammu went to battle Eternity, it happened within the space of Eternity's body.
Dormammu railed against the universe itself.
Eternity didn't throw down.

Then, add to all this, that Eternity tells Pym that he OWES Pym a Thank you.
WHAT?!?!
How many times has Dr. Strange saved Eternity and creation itself, only to have Eternity calmly dismiss him, above and beyond the very notion of gratitude.

I call shenanigans on this handling of the cosmic entity.
SHENANIGANS, Dan Slott (plot) and Christos Gage (script)! SHENANIGANS!

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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

The Runner Ups:

-

- Dr. Plokta in : Captain Britain & MI-13 # 13 -

Plokta , back from his near-win last year, pulls it out again by doing the same shtick to Dracula that he did to the MI-13 team last year.
However, he's acting in a "heroic" manner this time... so does that make this a HERO appearance?
nah... still a cool character.


- The Mindless Ones in: Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes # 9 -

Now THESE guys were (and always are) awesome!


- Shuma Gorath in: Doctor Voodoo # 1 -

He/It was only in one panel, and didn't DO anything. I don't care.
Shuma shows up, Shuma gets respect!


- Dracula in : Captain Britain & MI-13 -

Dracula steps into the 21st century while also embracing his ancient roots.
Gone is the 19th century "gentleman" with opera cloak and enter a warlord and leader of his people.
Toss in a base on the MOON and teaming up with the likes of Lilith and Captain Fate; demonic space pirate, and you got yourself a winner!
Once again, that is why Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk are awesome.


- Loki in : - heck... just about everything -

The trickster god has been putting in a dynamite year!
Mighty Avengers, Thor, Dark Reign, The Cabal and now his role in Seige... everything is near pitch perfect for this bad poison apple.
Classic Loki.


- Dr. Doom in : nearly every appearance -

With the exception of a few minor false steps - character wise, it was an awesome year for Doom!
Sadly, like Loki, I don't remember everything, but it's all been so good.
Mark his appearances in everything from Captain Britain & MI13 (with Dracula ON.THE. MOON) to his time-traveling romance and tutelage with Morgan Le Fey in Mighty Avengers & Dark Avengers and a kick-ass appearance in Doctor Voodoo # 1 as the primary reasons for his nearly receiving the award here.
Classic scientific skills and an all-new confidence and mastery of his mystical abilities, merged with his awesome intellect, scheming mind and towering ego?
Doom is BACK!


- Morgan Le Fey in: Mighty Avengers 9 - 11 & Dark Avengers # 1 - 4 -

And while speaking of Morgan Le Fey... freakin' awesome stuff!
Time traveling machinations and battle strategies handled the best way I've seen in many a year.
This is all one long story arc that bridged these two Avengers titles. All in all one of the best appearances of a villain in a long time.
But while thoroughly entertaining (and nice to see her again - is it wrong of me to think she's totally hot?) this close contender lost the award because she was driven by petty jealousy and her feeling slighted romantically by Dr. Doom.
If it was for any other reason than just "why didn't he call me the next day", I would have awarded her the top slot.


The Winner:

- Chthon in : - Marvel Avengers # 21 - 23 -


Chthon pulls some great chaos magic on the heroes and Quicksilver here.
Some interesting ideas: turning Mordred the Mystic into a living Book of the Darkhold; Chthon taking control of the body of Quicksilver (as opposed to his usual fave, Scarlet Witch) and trapping Pietro inside the cursed tome.
Dan Slott works his magic with the title.


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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

The Runner Ups:

-

- D'Spayre in : Avengers / Invaders 12-issue maxi-series # 7 & 8 -

Wait... he's really the WWII "Vision"?
What?!?
And he's an other-dimensional alien who was sent to babysit the cosmic cube?!?!?
Really???
That's stupid.
Wouldn't the other "fear lords" (Nightmare, Dweller in Darkness, etc...) have known that?
I'm all for cool new twists for old characters, especially by guys like Jim Krueger and Alex Ross who are known for their exhaustive research and innovative takes on characters.
But this? This was just lame.


- Dr. Doom in : Doctor Voodoo # 1 -

OK. The majority of his appearance in this issue was flat-out amazing!
Doom as a total powerhouse mystic and taunting manipulator is always great to see.
But, when he beats Jericho Drumm in battle and takes the Eye of Agamotto - only to drop it when it reveals a "scary" vision of the future?
Doom's ego would NEVER allow for any doubt that he could handle anything the universe tossed at him.
A common occurrence with Doom's treatment in comics as of late.
He's been shown to have more caution and willingness to accept some limitations.
I guess that means he's growing as a character.
But, it's simply not Doom.


- Dormammu in : just about every appearance -

Everything from New Avengers # 51-54 to his easy defeat in Doctor Voodoo # 1 to his uselessness in Marvel Zombies4 and Dark Reign; The Hood.
The lameness is only matched by the stupidity of the concept of his ties to the Hood in the first place.


The Winner:

- Tul 'Uth in : - Strange vol.2 # 1 -


Tul 'Uth, the Lord High Incubus of Games and Chance... ugh.
A mismatch of demonic visual with smack-talking, slang-using dialogue all rolled into one of the oldest cliche'd villain-types ever put to print:
The "Unbeatable" Gamesmaster who in the end is bested by his own rules and contract.
Poor choice of villainous creation from an otherwise "best of" writer, Mark Waid.

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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:

The Runner Ups:

-

- Ghost Rider -

This title kept on getting better and better right up to it's "end" as it went on hiatus.
Having both Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch both be Ghost Riders is fabulous. Then to reveal that there has ALWAYS been more than one GR in the world, and that, in fact, each country has it's OWN - AND that they use whatever means of conveyance is common in their home country (riding flaming elephants???) is awesome.
This book can't come back any sooner.


- Captain Britain & MI-13 -

This title won the best of position last year, and could easily have won this year as well.
It was simply one of the best things that Marvel had been publishing.
Sadly, it was cancelled.
That's not a good reason, really, for me to take it's crown away, and yet... I have to look to the future.


The Winner:

- Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural -


I can't comment enough how I have enjoyed the new takes and aspects of Marvel's magical universe as handled by
Writer Rick Remender has been showcasing magic in a dynamic new light - even by utilizing treatments of one of the oldest magical forms in the world - voodoo!
Artist Jefte Paolo and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu might not have been my first choices for such a book, but they make it work.
The series was only at the midway point by year's end. Let's hope the remaining couple of issues can maintain this level of promise.

>------------

WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related (overall) TITLE:

The Runner ups:

-

- NEW AVENGERS -
Like last year, this came SO CLOSE to "winning" the "Worst Title" slot. SO CLOSE.
I do enjoy reading New Avengers. Honestly. I do. And that is what saves it from the "prize" here.
However, the handling of Doctor Strange at the hands of writer Brian Michael Bendis has continued to be aggravating.


- AVENGERS / INVADERS (12 issue maxi-series) -

Two Avengers teams, time-tossed Invaders, the cosmic cube...Jim Krueger and Alex Ross.
Such promise. Such a disappointment.
Doc gets treated rather poorly and, even worse, is only present on the cover of one b/w sketch variant issue (# 12).



The "WINNER":

- STRANGE (vol. 2 mini-series) -


I just want to cry.
The one time that an impressive showing for Doctor Strange is CRUCIAL... they give us this.
Maybe it's a kind of curse or something, but it seems that each time Marvel removed the "Doctor" from the title, what was left was faaar from "Strange".
Mark Waid starts off the series with a pedestrian story about a "gamesmaster" demon (the ending is known as soon as you learn his shtick).
Doctor Strange is portrayed as a minor-league-baseball-loving, "Swing Batta" taunting, "regular guy" while also having him be undercover as a former mystic master investigating some demonic upheaval.
Waid also repeats a grievous sin that he was guilty of when he was writing the Fantastic Four; that of letting "normals" be able to do - right off the bat - the magic that Strange spent many years studying at the feet of the Ancient One. Sure, by issue two we learn that the "normal" in question is an unusually adept "natural" magic user. That helped the case slightly, but it still irked.
And while issue 2 also helped regain some lost footing for the series, not only in the writing, but with the artwork of Emma Rios, as it was a distinct giant leap ahead from the first, by issue three, I was starting to feel like this was going to be "take one step forward, two steps back".
The final issue has yet to ship, and unless it pulls a complete "rabbit from the hat" trick, it will fail and the future of Doctor Strange as a potential future title-character might fall along with it.


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BEST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:

The Runner Ups:

-


- Man-Thing and other Horror / Monsters in : Marvels ; Eye of the Camera # 3
-
As seen [HERE]


- Dr. Strange and heroes in - Monsters, Myths and Marvels - oneshot -

Originally a digital exclusive, Marvel published the three segments as one issue in January 2009.
While a reporter is broadcasting about the "myth" of Galactus, there appears in the comic a representation of the "Galactus -vs- Everybody" Marvel Legends Masterworks statuette from ToyBiz, which was modeled after the classic Fantastic Four # 243 cover art by John Byrne.
Anyone familiar with that FF issue knows Doc is present and is the reason that "Galactus Falls!"
So, it was nice to see a "toy" that I own being used as a prop in a comic.


- DCU Halloween Special 2009 - -

At a Halloween costume party, thrown by Green Lantern Guy Gardener, some GL dresses up as Doctor Strange. For copyright reasons, he's all in green, obviously, but the cloak of levitation is unmistakable in any color.
Nice.

The Winner:

- "STRANGE GUN" with "Gamma-Hoggoth" rays : TOP-10 - Season 2 # 4 -


Zander Cannon and Gene ha bring a cool weapon to the "Top-10" universe.
One of the best "boom-sticks" since...well... the "boom-stick".
Always nice to see some love for Doc and his world in other universes.

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WORST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:

- Dr. Strange in - Monsters, Myths and Marvels - oneshot -

Originally a digital exclusive, Marvel published the three segments as one issue in January 2009.
Doc is being interviewed by a reporter about Galactus and Strange is trying to hypnotize the reporter into canceling some kind of "Dr. Strange is a Quack" expose'.


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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

The Runner Ups:

-

- Variant cover for - Doctor Voodoo : Avenger of the Supernatural # 1 -
An homage to Frank Brunner's classic cover to Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 1.
However, it loses nearly all good cred because nowhere that I can see does cover artist Billy Tan give a credit to Brunner for the original design.
Usually, in times like this the homage artist has the acknowledging term "after" between his own name and that of the original artist.
(Tan "after" Brunner)
That wasn't done, and it marred an otherwise amazing work.


- Dr. Strange Super Hero Squad "astral form" figure -

A part of a "Secret Invasion 4-pack (Mr. Fantastic, Iron man, Skrull & Doc) this figure was to be released in the USA some time in 2009.
Sadly, it hasn't and I (like many) had to obtain mine from an ebay seller overseas.
If it were officially released it may have won this category.
A look at the item can be found [HERE].


- Man-Thing hand-painted lead figure -

A "Special Edition" from the UK's "Classic Marvel Figurine Collection".
These "Special Editions" are usually of characters who are larger in scale than the traditional figures.
Man-Thing fits that description.
A nice piece of swag that comes with a magazine that gives all the info on the muck-encrusted mockery of a man who acts as Guardian of the Nexus of All Realities.
If the sculpt were nicer this would have had a better shot at winning.


- Man-Thing "comiquette" statue -
Manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles it's a lovely piece (complete with light-up l.e.d. eyes).
Standing 18.5" High (469.9mm) x 22" Wide (558.8mm) x 16" Deep (406.4mm), and weighing in at over 15 pounds, it is a GIANT.
But carrying a $499.00 US price-tag, it's just insane to think that anyone would be able to get it (which is why this is also on the "Worst of" list).
I wrote about it [HERE].


- Hulk: DEFENDERS / OFFENDERS poster by Ed McGuinness -

While hardly the most amazing piece of swag, at $8.00 or so it surely provides a big bang for the buck!
The image that was formed by the regular and a variant cover to Hulk # 10, the classic Defenders and their evil counterparts, the "Offenders" face off against each other.
I might have had issue with the stories, but the artwork was big, bold and bombastic!


The Winner:

- Doctor Strange "Silver Age" Toon Tumbler -


Made by PopFun Merchandise this is the 2nd Toon Tumber for Doc (unless you count the two variants of the original glass as separate entities, in which case this would be PopFun's "third" tumbler for Strange)!
I recently gave a showing of the item (as seen [HERE]).
If the ordering process from their website were smoother, this would have won hand's down, but it almost lost the top spot due to the archaic web 1.0 order site.
Still, a beautiful piece and fairly inexpensive.
Plus, it's functional, allowing itself to be appreciated daily!



-------------

WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

The Runner Ups:

-

- Marvel Infinity Gauntlet "Fine Art Theatre" statue -
By Kotobukiya and priced at $199.00, this thing is a giant mash-up of the events and characters from the classic Infinity Gauntlet mini-series from the 1990's.
Honestly, it's cool, but Doctor Strange looks more like the late Sonny Bono than Stephen Strange.


- Man-Thing "comiquette" statue -

$499.00 US price-tag!!!
In the middle of the worst US economy since the 1930's.
Thanks, jackasses at Sideshow Collectibles!
The only reason this isn't THE worst is that it's a friggin' HUGE statue of MAN-THING, which IS awesome!
I so want it.


The "Winner":

- Scarlet Witch comiquette statue -


Also manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles
With a $205 US price tag, this cheesecake image gets the "Worst of" prize because it is purely a T-n-A piece.
I own several Scarlet Witch statues, so I have nothing against something that is done fairly tastefully.
This thing... well... it's nothing you can put up on display unless you're single (and want to stay that way) or living in your mom's basement (or both).
It's simply a "woman-as-sex-object" piece, all the while trying to "empower" her by having her "control" the Vision via his "joystick".
I wrote a review on it [HERE].

-------------


BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

The Runner Up

-

- Dr. Fate in : Batman: Brave and the Bold - "Eyes of Despero"
-
Dr. Fate running around in an obviously Ditko-inspired "Dark Dimension" world in an episode penned by J.M. DeMatteis.
My previous write up [HERE]


The Winner:

Dr. Orpheus - from THE VENTURE BROS. animated show on Cartoon Network.


Once again Orpheus IS Dr. Strange. Add in Jefforson Twilight; Blackula Hunter (a BLADE; Vampire Hunter homage) and "The Alchemist" (possibly a Dr. Druid" nod) to form their own "Midnight Sons" style team; "The Order of the Triad".

-------------



WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

- Johnny Ryan's "Marvel's Most Embarrassing Moments" segment - From "Strange Tales anthology" # 1 -

One of Ryan's older (and tamer) pieces was run in the issue.
"In 1985 Dr. Strange released a rap album"
"Stanktum Stanktorum"
OK.
It IS funny.
But I'd like to think that to Johnny Ryan, being the "worst" is like being the "Best".
Hopefully. he'll receive it in such a way.

-------------

BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related MEDIA APPEARANCE:

The Runner Ups:

-

- Dr. Strange mentioned in an episode of the newly revamped MELROSE PLACE TV show -
Actually, it was a mention of Doc as a comic character in reference to a Melrose character's "Doctor Strange collection".
A brief write up on the episode can be found [HERE].


- ROLLING STONE issue # 1088 - Oct. 20009 -

Dr. Strange comic issue in the hands of Megan Fox for a Rolling Stone photo shoot -
Also mentioned in a post [HERE].


- 'Sunday Morning' CBS TV show -
Geek culture is discussed and at a comic convention the cover to Strange Tales # 158 is shown.
Write up and video clip also [HERE].


- Dormammu in : The Venture Bros - episode 407; "The Better Man" -
During a training session by Blacula Hunter, Jefferson Twilight, while slicing and dicing cardboard cutout standees of assorted baddies, DORMAMMU is shown briefly on camera as one of the standees.
Sweet!


- The Mindless Ones in : Super Hero Squad TV show -

Mindless Ones, summoned by Dormammu, bust up everything that they can find.
While I felt that Dormammu wasn't properly portrayed (by Robert Englund), I always have nothing but love for the Mindless ones.

- Episode # 5
"ENTER : DORMAMMU"
Complete review can be found [HERE].


The "Winner":

- Doctor Strange in : Super Hero Squad TV show -

While I am not the biggest fan of the show, I WILL still give props to the fact that Doctor Strange IS being shown on TV to kids (and those young in mind and heart) on this Marvel cartoon.
Thus far, Doc's been in three episodes, and I'm going to give the "Best of" appearance to TWO of them:

- Episode # 9
"NIGHT IN THE SANCTORUM"
Doc is all bizniz in this episode.
Righteous kickassery.
My review [HERE]

and

- Episode # 16
"INVADER FROM THE DARK DIMENSION"
THE DEFENDERS are formed in this episode!
Silver Surfer, Hulk, Valkyrie & Doctor Strange!
'Nuff Said!
Info found [HERE]


-------------



WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related MEDIA APPEARANCE:

The Runner Up:

-

- Baron Mordo in : Super Hero Squad TV show -
Mordo is treated like a moron, after being accidentally released by Thor from his imprisonment by Dr. Strange in a can of soda pop.

- Episode # 9
"A NIGHT IN THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM"
Complete review can be found [HERE].


The "Winner":

- Doctor Strange in : Super Hero Squad TV show -

In his very FIRST appearance on the show, Doctor Strange is treated as a joke - basically using the "Strange Doctor" gag.
While he gets it together by the end of the episode, it would have been better to treat him with respect on his first appearance and leave the "Strange Dr. Strange" stuff for a follow-up.

- Episode # 5
"ENTER : DORMAMMU"
Complete review can be found [HERE].

-------------

BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

The Runner Ups:

-

- Brother/Doctor Voodoo, The Hood and Valkyrie action figures -

At the last Toy Fare, the new Marvel legends line has figures on display of what is to come in the new waves of releases.
Among the many items were those three "6-Dimensions" characters.
Check it out [HERE]


The Winner:

- A DR. STRANGE movie -


Talks of a Doctor Strange flick are always bandied about.
Stan Lee weighed in and stated that his choice for a marvel "must have" movie would be Doc.
Still, it doesn't look like anything that will happen before 2012.



-------------

WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

The Runner Ups:

-

- No new DR. STRANGE series -
Marvel has no idea what to do with him, feeling he plays best as a guest star.
With the lackluster "STRANGE" miniseries as his only recent solo gig, there's nothing to prove them wrong.
I'd guess that it will take a bold new direction - OR a successful film to bring Doc his own series again.
And if the film does predicate the release of a comic, the comic will take the lead of however he is portrayed in the film.


- Canceling of Doctor Voodoo series -

Marvel truncated his ongoing series to a mere 5 issue mini before the ink dried on issue # 1.
Not a good sign for marvel's mystical heroes.


- ROM SPACEKNIGHT rights not renewed by Hasbro -

Despite numerous news leaks to the contrary , the rights are still nowhere,
No ROM any time soon.



"Definitely NOT the Winner":

- My own downsizing and loss of employment. -


Selfish of me to take this slot, I know. And I KNOW that there are many others in my situation - or worse.
However, I can't deny that it affected everything about my life (obviously) and has pretty much called a near end to my blogging and buying of stuff.
I've been trying to forestall having to SELL off my personal collection, but things are looking grim with unemployment benefits running out very soon and no job offers in sight.
No sense in having a collection without a house to store it in.

-------------

2010 PREDICTIONS:

- MAN-THING and monster characters are on the upswing!
Seriously, Manny is everywhere as of late.
Good news for muck fans.

- The "New" Sorcerer Supreme is temporary. -
It might last another year or two, but Strange will regain the big seat.

- The Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog will see another year!(?) -
THAT's a prediction we all want to come true!

--------------------------

Well, that's it for this year!
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.

5 comments:

cerebus660 said...

~P~ that's a hell of a post! You obviously put a lot of time and effort into it. I hope you do continue blogging in 2010.

Sorry to hear about your unemployment: I've been there myself and I can sympathise with how you feel. I hope things will improve for you this year and that you don't have to sell your collection - that would be a real shame!
All the best,
Cerebus660.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

I've been there too, it's the pits. Kind of an understatement, I know.

Did you check out the Mindless Ones' appearance in Nova this year? Actually pretty good - reveals that someone in another universe enslaved a group of rogue Mindless Ones' and was using them to mine white dwarf stars. Fun stuff.

~P~ said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys.


Tim O'Neil,
I DID read that arc in NOVA.
I'm not sure HOW I really feel about their having an intelligent, "Minded One" as a leader in that sector of space...
weird.
Still, it's another angle that modern writers are looking to add to the "race" of Mindless Ones.

Back in Captain Britain and MI-13 it was stated that the M.O's were created by Dr. Plotka as an "ultimate weapon" and used to distract interdimensional overlords and the like.

That, and the increasing tendencies that the "Mindless Ones" are not all that "mindless".

These new "takes" on the classic berzerkers are distracting to me, and seem to be needless additions to perfect cannon-fodder, ground troop characters.

I don't really see the need for there to be much back-story or additional nuances to the M.O's.
They fight. They destroy.
That's all I need.

---

cerebus,
would you believe that this post really didn't take me all that long?
Sure, I had been thinking about the various nominees for the awards on and off for a month, but I was able to bat out the actual post in a day (and edited the next day).

Luckily, I was compulsive enough to have started an actual "best of/ worst of" list back in Jan 2009, which I had maintained up until my job-loss (and loss of much interest) in April.
I was able to use that aborted list as a reminder of some of the things that I might have otherwise forgotten.

Then, when I was typing the post, I just let me insane anal-retentive comic-book memory carry me the rest of the way.

The fact that I run on at the mouth (or fingers) easily and rapidly, allowed for my whipping up a large post... post haste.

Still, I'm glad that it has been received well.

My humble thanks.

~P~

Chrisfs said...

wow longest post I have ever seen. I am sad that Dr Voodoo got cancelled, you had an awesome intro episode, and I was looking forward to seeing a new voodoo related bad guy and have Dr Voodoo add to the canon of magical knowledge, and they simply cancel it altogether.

~P~ said...

Yeah, that Doctor Voodoo series was very good!
Such a shame.

But THIS is the longest post you've ever seen?
Oh, don't worry... I have plenty of LONGER ones on this here blog.

Just keep looking.
(Some of my longest are REVIEWS of various Dr. Strange stories.
Look for the review of RONDEAU (Girl Comics # 2) and my many deep reviews on Bendis' various AVENGERS misfires.)

Also, ALL of the SANCTUM AWARDS are about this long.
Three of those thus far (2008 - 2010) at the time of this writing.

Some of my earliest posts are long-winded, info-packed reads as well.

The MARVEL WORLD post, the TOWER OF POWER post...
oh, so many.
I am a long-winded goon.

Enjoy.
And know... MORE long-winded posts are to come.

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