Sunday, January 30, 2011

The 2010 SANCTUM AWARDS!
3rd ANNUAL EVENT!

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The "Sancty"

WELCOME to the 3rd ANNUAL
"SANCTUM AWARDS"*!
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These awards are to be awarded to the BEST (and WORST) of what 02010 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 suffered through a YEAR waiting for these...


BEST DOCTOR STRANGE APPEARANCE:

*sigh*...Once again, GOOD Doctor Strange appearances are a rare thing indeed.
In fact, this year was especially bleak.
Here's what I was able to scrape up:


The Runner ups:

- GIRL COMICS # 2 ("Rondeau") -
A short 6-page story as a part of a 48-page anthology issue, "Rondeau"... despite its few technical flaws was an excellent story, with beautiful artwork, that bridged the gap between the time when Doctor Strange abdicated his mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, and his slow reclamation of ability and redemption of spirit.
An insanely in-depth review of this story can be found at this link [HERE].
But, as good a story as it was, or had the potential of being, since it has been pretty much ignored by those "in-control" of Doc's path, it amounts to little more than a nice, forgotten tale.


- ORIGINS of MARVEL COMICS 1-shot -
A one-page retelling of Doctor Strange's origin, written by Fred Van Lente with rich, chiaroscuro-laden artwork by Jackson "Butch" Guice, it is one of the shortest (and one of the best) retellings of that story since the Lee/Ditko original.
Sadly, it was but a single page. As such, I can't give it the top slot for 'best of the year'.


- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 22 - 24 -
Strange is called in to help shepherd a comatose Tony Stark back to the land of the living.
A few truly nice visual tidbits as Doc sets up his mystic "operating room", some interesting pseudo-psychobabble about the nature of perceived reality, a short - yet boldly owned - bit as the proclaimed "Master of the Mystic and Martial Arts"...
If it weren't for all the shortcomings (and a cheap beating by 'the Ghost') then handed to Doc in all of those areas here, it would have been a strong contender.
But we did get a very nice Doctor Strange variant cover for issue # 22.
Still... close, but no cigar.


- Spider-Man / Doctor Strange : FEVER (3-issue Mini-Series) -
Brendan McCarthy writes and illustrates a fun, frenzied, foray of fantastic other-dimensional freakiness.
However, filled with flaws and finally, fundamentally freaky for freakiness' sake.
I think I liked it a bit more than fandom assembled, but still, that may have been because a friend of mine (Howard Hallis) did much of the coloring (uncredited).
While I started a review of the series, I never completed it, so there's no link to my more detailed thoughts.
Maybe one day I'll get to it for completist's sake.


The WINNER:

- Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange (anthology) #1 -

A one-shot issue with 4 different short stories starring Doctor Strange.
With tales written by Keiron Gillen, Peter Milligan, Ted McKeever, Mike Carey...
and illustrated by Frazer Irving, Frank Brunner, Ted McKeever, Marcos Martin...all behind a lush, painted cover by Lucio Parrillo, even where it is weak and lacking, (and sadly, there are several places where the story or art suffers poorly,) it isn't enough to knock this issue from receiving the top honor.
My comprehensive review of the issue can be found [HERE].


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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, yet again, I didn't even include ALL of the bad ones (much like last year, and the year before that)...

The Runner ups:


- Doctor Voodoo : Avenger of the Supernatural # 4 -
Doctor Strange, bound and (eye)-ball-gagged - a helpless prisoner of the oft-useless Nightmare... just to puff up the "baddie threat" for Doctor Voodoo to overcome.


- Strange (v2) # 4 (issues # 1 - 3 were 2009 releases) -
As many might recall, I voted the first three issues (as # 4 wasn't released until 2010) as the Worst Doctor Strange Related Title in last year's SANCTUM AWARDS [HERE].
I won't go into it in too much depth here - but as the final issue in a spotty mini-series, it had the nigh-impossible task of salvaging the entire series... 
Despite an energized and driven Stephen Strange walking off panel at the end, on a mission of grave import... it failed.
You can read my complete issue-by-issue review of the mini-series [HERE].


- Spider-Man / Doctor Strange : Fever (3-issue Mini-Series) -
Yup. On the Best AND Worst lists, pretty much for the same reason.
Filled with flaws and finally, fundamentally freaky for freakiness' sake. No offense meant, but I can draw that kind of sketchy, surreal stuff in my sleep with a ballpoint pen.
The writing had some nifty concepts, but was less than professionally penned.
This is from Brendan McCarthy, a guy who made a LONG and illustrious career out of weirdness. It should have been better.


 - Incredible Hulk(s) # 618 - 620 -
To discuss this story arc, one must know that they are a tie-in to the "Chaos War" event that is/was going on across the Marvel Universe.
In it, the "Chaos King" (a new moniker for a Japanese rogue deity; Amatsu-Mikaboshi) was causing the end of all things, and even of death. So to aid him in this nullification of everything, Chaos King was bringing the dead back to life to act as his pawns.  Big time mystical throw-downs all across the multi-dimensional fabric of reality and yet, Doctor Strange was nowhere to be seen.
Well, Hulk writer Greg Pak must have realized this blatant error and showed us seemingly WHY Doc was not around to help in the war.
It seems that the ZOM energies that Doc had ingested back in the whole World War Hulk story were reactivated by the demons and Doctor Strange once again became Zom-tor Strange: Evil demon Sorcerer-who-smashes.
To say that it felt like a rushed, squeezed-in role is an understatement. And once again, Doc is undermined as a serious sorcerer by being taken off the board with the least evident effort.
The final issue of the arc (# 620) shipped just into 2011, and so can't be taken into consideration here (but needless to say; Doc only barely makes an effort to fight his possession. Nothing to save this poor showing).


- Spider-Man (One Moment In Time story arc) # 640 - 641 -
Really? Doc needs to get help from Iron Man and Mr Fantastic in order to wipe the world's collective mind of Peter Parker's secret identity? Since when?
I know the rationale here is that in order to erase even physical evidence (film footage, newspaper headlines, etc...) that a unique blend of science and sorcery would be required.
Uh... not when Doc last did this trick back at the end of the Master of Mystic Arts series (and starting off the 'Strange Tales' v2 run) where Doc faked his death and caused the world to think he was killed by the Beyonder.
This included creating false memories, false film footage and headlines.
Then, when he wanted to let the world know he was back, he just reversed it.
It was a big, powerful spell, but nothing he couldn't do. And even at a point when he was not at his strongest, having lost the ability to use some of his magics.

Sure, sure... it's probably easier to create fake evidence than to erase real evidence.
That's probably why when they did the same thing for the Sentry, it was Doctor Strange and Mr. Fantastic who performed the task.
But still... pee-yew!
What a steaming load of a story (dropped on us by Joe Quesada)!


- New Avengers (v1) # 60  - 
This could almost have been listed in the "best of" category.
Seriously. It came close to crossing into "good" territory - especially since the issue itself; story and art - was excellent!
However, the criteria here is: How was DR STRANGE handled?
The answer is: well... Bendis.
Bendis' penchant for making stuff up as he goes along, ignoring canonical facts and past exploits and interpersonal relationships of characters just to suit whatever he is writing, is a foregone conclusion.
So, the fact that Bendis has several characters refer to Dr Strange as a HEART surgeon, despite the meme that Strange was a famous NEURO-surgeon, is nothing that should be surprising.
To Bendis' defense, the most oft-stated occupation for Strange was just a world-famous (and greedy, callous) SURGEON.
It took several years after Doc's origin story, with a few captions here and there over the years, for the NEURO-surgeon part to be accepted into Doc's backstory.
Think about it for a moment; for the world's foremost Neurosurgeon to lose the use of his skilled hands in a car wreck because of nerve damage? That is just perfect, cyclical, ironic karma for Stephen Strange.
For him to have been a heart surgeon makes little to no sense.
Still, Neurosurgeon IS the field of expertise as listed in the Official Handbooks, as well as Marvel's own character page for Strange.
Why Bendis can't simply do 5-minutes worth of research is beyond me.

But, we'll give that a "pass", and try to read between the lines (read: do Bendis' job for him) that maybe Doc just didn't wish to split hairs while Luke Cage lie in a bed with a bomb on his heart.

Still, Bendis treats Doc as a chump by other comments that are tossed around by characters in the tale.
Hank Pym is called in (on Strange's say-so) to help with the microsurgery, but Pym doesn't treat Strange as a being credible as a hero, sorcerer or even doctor.

Comments such as:

- Pym disses Strange by feeling it might be best to have Dr. Voodoo go into the surgery process (even though Voodoo is a Doctor of psychology, not medicine), because of Strange's loss of Status as Sorcerer Supreme.

- Pym treats Doc like an intern ("...be careful not to do any internal damage"). Doc at least gets out a "Please. Of course."

- Pym thinks that the process of shrinking down to ant size is something to make one such as Strange even blink.  And Bendis still has the gaul to have Doc say "That IS disconcerting."
ugh.
For treatment of Doc, this is one of the WORST issues of the year.
Still, not THE worst... that "honor" goes to...



The "WINNER":

- New Avengers (v2) # 1 - 6 ("Possession" arc) -

Too... many... things... wrong...
Read my crazy-in-depth reviews of the arc; issues 1-4 [HERE], issue 5 - with a ton of back-story and canonical history [HERE], and issue 6 (with a complete overview of 1-6) [HERE].

Suffice it to say, without just retyping all my comments from those afore-linked-to reviews, this arc deals (poorly) with a story wherein Agamotto seemingly goes bad, attempts to destroy the Earth in order to reclaim the Eye of Agamotto (while at the same time, NOT trying to reclaim his OTHER items of power) and kills off Doctor Voodoo - who was just getting ramped up as a good character.

Doctor Strange is, once again, treated like a mope, and Wolverine does magical battle for the fate of all there is, by no other method than slashing his claws around.

Oh, yeah.. and the "defining of the rules of magic" that was hyped up, just seems to be that they needed footnotes.

FAIL.


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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

The Runner ups:


- Doctor America - in: 'Captain America : Who WON'T Wield the Shield' 1-shot -
A psychedelic mash-up of Doctor Strange, Captain America, Son of Satan was written by Matt Fraction, with art by Brendan McCarthy, and colors by special friend of the blog (and myself) - fellow Dr. Strange über-fan; Howard Hallis!
Created as a 6-page story in the "Captain America : Who WON'T Wield the Shield" one-shot, DOCTOR AMERICA is a "DITKIRBANKO" (Ditko, Kirby, Steranko - natch!) bit of weirdness that touches base with the psychedelia of the 1960's/1970's era comics, op-art and politics. 
A quick review can be found [HERE].


- Dire Wraiths - in: 'Fantastic Four' # 577 - 578 -
The Dire Wraiths appear to be one of 5 races who make up the "Universal Inhumans"!
Not much has been shown as to their involvement, but seeing them treated as a major entity in the cosmic scheme of things is kind of nice... in a weird sort of way.
I discuss the Wraith's re-emergence into the Marvel universe [HERE].


- Doctor Voodoo - in: 'Doctor Voodoo' mini-series -
While the three issues came out in 2009 (and won many top honors in last year's awards) the last two issues of the series were made available in 2010.
I regret not posting my review of the mini (it was insanely long, and I never got around to editing it) but I truly loved this series, and it almost won the award. Sadly, Jericho Drumm was slapped around quite a bit as the series progressed (Dr Doom's punch-monkey, Nightmare's bitch, Son of Satan's pet-project) but all in all, a good showing for a character who used to only appear as a punchline in Fred Hembeck's satirical cartoons.


- Howard the Duck - in : Marvel Zombies v5 mini-series -
C'mon... it was Howard the Duck of an alternate future crossing the time-stream and dimensional realms alongside Machine Man ... oh yeah... and fighting Zombies.
That is awesome.


- Man-Thing - in: 'Web of Spider-Man'  # 6 -
A short back-up story in this issue features a new retelling (a slight "re-imagining") of the origins of the Lizard and the Man-Thing. My thoughts on the tale can be found [HERE].
Writer Fred van Lente tosses a few new bits of gumbo into the pot of Manny's origin, but the taste isn't harmed for the extra ingredients.
With lovely artwork by the team of Jefte Palo - artist and Javier Rodriguez - with some amazing color work, this story deserves a spot here on the short-list.


- Man-Thing - in : 'Thunderbolts' # 144 - 150 -
 This came so close to winning, hand's-down, because it is the MAN-THING on a top-tier TEAM!
Unfortunately, he hasn't really been seen as really doing all that much. Although, the fact that he is being used in a new and innovative way, in such a high-profile title was almost enough to garner the award.
With awesome writing by Jeff Parker and lovely artwork by Kevin Walker and colorist Frank Martin, Man-Thing has been given gold-star treatment.
My love-note to issue # 144 can be found [HERE].

This was almost the winner of the category, but the winner takes the prize because it added a special ingredient to the mix... AWESOME-SAUCE!...



The WINNER:


- Man-Thing - in: 'Punisher'  # 13 -

As close as there can possibly BE for a "F#@%-YEAH!" moment for Man-Thing!
The Punisher (now a cobbled together "FrankenCastle" monster) teams-up with Man-Thing and, stealing a move from the X-Men, "fastball specials" Man-Thing up to a helicopter to inflict some serious wasabi-burns on some monster-hunting Samurai warriors.
Man-Thing was used here as a team-mate, a comrade-in-arms, a kindred soul and... as a friend.
The type of treatment that even the Thunderbolts have not fully shown the muck-man.



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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (hero):

The Runner Ups:


- Daimon Hellstrom ; Son of Satan; in : 'New Avengers' v2 # 1 - 6 -
The Son of Satan reduced to a bodily-possessed, whining, "told-ya-so" spewing punk - courtesy of Brian Bendis.


- Mortigan Goth; Immortalis in : 'Wolverine : Best There Is' # 2 -
After missing the boat to include this fabulous character in the lamented 'Captain Britain and MI-13' series, Marvel has instead opted to DESTROY the charm of Mortigan Goth : Immortalis.
Now, he is a pill popping, skin-headed, leather-boy in black chaps and a "the Damned" t-shirt.

He still has the tragic story of having his soul being tormented by Mephisto, which might account for his darker nature now (as I'd imagine thousands of years of that kind of torture would cause someone to go a bit dark), but it seems so unnecessary.
I can't determine if this is the "Worst" of 2010, since the appearance will undoubtedly carry over into 2011, and I can't judge it as a whole just yet.
If this issue WAS Mortigan Goth's only appearance, then it would take top "honor".


- Man-Thing - in: 'Tomb of Terror' (anthology) # 1 -  
 Badly written, poorly executed, so-so artwork, editorial asleep at the wheel.
Man-Thing is (for no reason) briefly given the mind of Ted Sallis and Ted uses that time to do a little vigilante justice in the Florida swamps.
A writer who couldn't come up with a way to write the Man-Thing correctly, just cheating and using him as a gore-fest vehicle.
The story also features a Deus-ex-machina appearance by Doctor Strange.
The issue also has stories featuring Werewolf-by-Night and the Son of Satan, but I was so disgusted by the Man-Thing tale, I never got around to reading those.
My review can be found [HERE].


- The Ancient One - in : 'New Avengers' v2 # 3 and # 5 -
I won't go into this one all that much since I have tons of reviews on the issues here on the blog.
The two that deal with the Ancient One are [HERE] and [HERE]. 
However, I doubt that this was really the Ancient One at all.
Most likely some demon entity merely posing as him.
But as bad as this "appearance" was, the dubious "winner" is...


The "WINNER":

- Doctor Voodoo - in : 'New Avengers' v2 # 1 - 6 -

Nearly all heroism and competence that Jericho Drumm had acquired was thrown right out the window by Bendis and Marvel editorial - leading up to another mystical castration of a Sorcerer Supreme ("I have failed... totally.") The only upside is that Drumm seemingly gave his life in an act of heroism (and that we all know he isn't really dead).


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BEST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

The Runner Ups:


 - Silver Dagger - in ; 'Strange' v2 # 4 -
While the issue was a let down (with some good aspects here and there) one bright spot was the appearance of Silver Dagger as the treacherous, magical fly in Dr. Strange's cosmos-saving ointment.
Always a pleasure to see Silver Dagger. Even when he is such a conniving, vindictive, dangerous heel.
Probably because of it.


- Shuma Gorath - in: 'Invaders Now!' # 4 (of 5) -
He/It was barely in the issue, floating around in one panel, and attacking the heroes at the last page. But, Shuma Gorath was stated as being the architect / dark power behind a recent mystical upheaval.
It will continue in the next (last) issue (out in early 2011).
Still... like last year's awards; "Shuma shows up, Shuma gets respect!"


- Ruby Thursday - in : 'Wolverine : Origins' # 44 - 45 -

What part of Ruby Thursday do you not understand?


- Hela - in: Thor # 611 - 614 and Avengers Prime # 1 - 5 -
While the events of the two titles don't synch up or jibe, the fact is that Hela steps up to raise some serious hell... or more accurately; Hel.


The WINNER:

- Mephisto - in : - Thor # 611 - 614 -

With numerous twists, backstabbing ploys, deviant sexual tastes and malevolent machinations, writer Kieron Gilllen shows exactly why Mephisto is the master of lies and ruler of hell.
Being bad was never so good!

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WORST "6-dimensions" APPEARANCE (villain):

The Runner Ups: 



- Nightmare - in: 'Chaos War' # 1 - 
Nightmare is the very first to die in this cosmic/mystical bruhaha.
Killed dead with little to no effort.



- Dormammu, Belasco, Asmodeus and Mephisto - in : Deadpool Team Up # 892 -
lame lame lame...
Improper characterization as each of these major lords of the underworld vie for the heart and hand of Satanna. Sure, being a Deadpool tale, it's played up for the yuks... but some characters should be exempt from being reduced to jokes.


- Baron Mordo - in : X-Factor # 203 - 206 -
While I am glad to see Mordo again (since his jack-in-the-box style resurrection in 'Amazing Spider-Man' # 500) I was less thrilled about the nature of his appearance here. Perhaps it was because it appeared out of place (Mordo was attempting to absorb power from Monet in order to combat against his recurring cancer), or perhaps it was because at no time did he state that he wishes to regain his strength in order to "do away with that accursed Stephen Strange" or something to that effect.
Instead, it seemed as if Peter David (whose work I usually enjoy) was given the task of bringing Mordo into the here and now in whatever way he could do so and as expeditiously as possible - regardless of the way he would be wedged into a story.
If David brings Mordo back and fleshes out the tale a bit more (there was certainly room for a return appearance) then I am sure I will enjoy it more as a part of a larger tapestry.
Not quite sure how I feel about Modro using non-magical means to do...anything.
I'm pretty sure he uses magic for... er... personal bathroom hygene, so to see him stooping to absorbing a mutant's power just seems out of character.
 Same goes for the "twist" ending. Sure, Mordo gets tricked all the time like that by Dr. Strange, so I'm sure the trick will work - for a while. I'm just waiting for when Mordo realizes he's been punk'd.



- Dracula - in : X-men # 1 -
Ignoring the fact that he was drawn as a totally different incarnation than what we've ever seen before in his every appearance, Dracula puts in the worst showing of his history after he sets up a meeting of all the world's vampires only to get killed like a chump by his youngest son in a bloody coup.


The "WINNER":

- "Agamotto" - in : 'New Avengers' v2 # 1 - 6 -

Well... first off, it's weird to have Agamotto listed here as a "villain", but in the overall arc of this story he/it/whomever-was-claiming-to-be-Agamotto was doing some seriously "bad guy" stuff.
Tearing the fabric of reality and setting up the possible end-of-the-world would most definitely fall into that category. Still, as I alluded a moment ago, I truly doubt that this was Agamotto, but instead some entity faking his/its identity while seeking his/its magic baubles.
Not that Agamotto hasn't shown proclivity for a callous attitude towards the well-being of Earth. While he/it has  usually done whatever he/it can in order to protect this reality, it has occurred on a few occasions where his own selfish needs have temporarily usurped his better nature.
Still... all that being said... I doubt that this is, in fact, Agamotto.
My overview of the recent Agamotto shenanigans can be found [HERE] and [HERE].


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

The Runner Ups:



- Doctor Voodoo : Avenger of the Supernatural -
Such an enjoyable series. With creative usage of the realms and trappings of magic, at no time are you subject to the erroneous belief that "magic needs to have rules". Instead, you revel in the deep, rich tapestry of magic, feeling its many folds draping itself all around you. The sorcerer is not treated as some all-powerful deus-ex-machina or magic-eraser here. No. Doctor Voodoo is new to the power and mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, and he stumbles along the way. In fact, for much of the story, he is clearly overpowered and outmatched by nearly every foe he faces. The story, written by Rick Remender, shows that the job of the top mystic is a hard one. It isn't just waving ones hands and making the problems vanish. The mantle's responsibilities and tasks would kill nearly anyone, except for those very few who can rise to that level of higher learning and expansive perception. Doctor Voodoo is given a precious gift in this tale. He is granted a chance to walk in a proper "Doctor Strange" story. Something that Doctor Strange has been denied for many a year.


- FrankenCastle / Punisher -
Let me state right at the onset that I loathe the Punisher. Not interested in his vigilante justice and the body-count his hyper-violence aggregates.
However, with the start of the "FrankenCastle" arc, I found him to be a caring, and endearing character - driven to protect his monstrous new family, just as ardently as he avenged his traditional old one.
For me to enjoy the Punisher, it would have to be a great work. This is.
Built as a reimagined/renamed incarnation of the Punisher, Frank Castle, having been torn to shreds by Wolverine's son, Daken, was reconstructed as a piecemeal monster, much like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Monster, from which this series drew its inspiration. The adventures that the new cadaverous FrankenCastle embarked upon dealt primarily with monsters and monster-hunters and the nature of what makes one "human". The supporting cast throughout this entire long series of issues was the "Legion of Monsters", including (among many, many others); Werewolf-by-Night, Morbius the Living Vampire, The Manphibian,  and... the Man-Thing.
You have NO idea how close this came to winning the award.
But, the best appearance of Man-Thing in the title was pretty much the best part for him/it and as such, won the award for that category.


The WINNER:

- Thunderbolts -


I have nothing but good thoughts and feelings for this series, which has taken the Man-Thing and incorporated him into the workings of a premier super-team (well... a premier title. The team is purely "B"-side). The beatific feeling that the creators, writer Jeff Parker, artist Kevin Walker and colorist Frank Martin grant to the Man-Thing and his habitat fills me with a deep sense that they, like me, care about the muck monster. At least for the time-being, Man-Thing has been given a home.My love-note to issue # 144 can be found [HERE].



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

The Runner ups:



- STRANGE v2 -
I need not say anything new here, as I already touched upon this letdown in the "Worst Appearance" slot and in my epic review (entitled; "The Doctor Is Out (and I feel ill)" [HERE]).


- CHAOS WAR -
A mystical menace of multidimensional proportions that threatens to erase everything in existence?
This looks like a job for Doctor Strange... Look! Up in the sky! It's... nope... he's not there.
Once again, Dr. Strange was swept off the board from a major "event", despite the fact that this mystical menace is exactly his wheelhouse...
Unforgivable. Unless you count the pitiful "appearance" and rationale for his being out of play (as discussed in the worst appearance category), because the Zom-energies were rekindled, causing Strange to be a pawn in the entire scheme.
Weak.


The "WINNER":

- NEW AVENGERS v2 -

From the treatment and "death" of Doctor Voodoo to the continued moping of Doctor Strange... the unheralded mistreatment of Agamotto to the removal of one of the oldest and most beloved artifacts in Marvel's history (the Eye of Agamotto)... the laugh-inducing (if it weren't so sad) new methodology and non-rules of magic (footnoted spells) to the "F@#% You, It's Magic!" attitude of writer, Brian Bendis and Marvel editorial... the impersonation of the Ancient One and Agamotto to the foreshadowed mischaracterization of Wong... New Avengers v2 is, in the span of 7 issues, (despite some of the most excellent artwork, by Stuart Immonen,) the worst Doc-related title for 2010.
More on the subject can be found [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], [HERE] and [HERE].



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BEST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:

The Runner Ups:



- 'I Am An Avenger' # 2 - 
Happy, sushi eating, levitating Doctor Strange is happy.


- 'Prelude to Deadpool Corps' #4 -
Doctor Strange, Dormammu, Scarlet Witch and Man-Thing all on the cover having a great ol' time!


- 'Girl Comics' # 3 -
Stephen Strange settles in to a super-hero bar and orders a "Theakston’s Old Peculier".


- 'Girl Comics' # 2 and # 3 -
Clea shown on Jill Thompson's cover of # 2 and a single panel of Coleen Coover's entry in # 3 keep the Mystic Maden's memory alive!


- PLANET HULK DVD -
Doctor Strange is shown briefly (along with fellow 'Illuminati' members Mr. Fantastic and Iron-Man) in a holographic message that explains to the Hulk (and the viewer) why he has been jettisoned from Earth. Sadly, no introduction or spoken lines basically just turn Doc into a "unknown, unnamed guy in background". Close to a winning slot (because it reached so many viewers),but barred from winning because of lack of any kind of identification.




The WINNER:

- Simpsons Super Spectacular # 11 -

Doctor Nick Riviera as "Doctor Strange Doctor", complete with Amulet and cloak of levitation.
Always nice to see some love for Doc and his world in other universes.
Especially sweet when it's the high-profile and highly esteemed world of the Simpsons.

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WORST EASTER-EGG-type APPEARANCE:


The "WINNER":

- Thanos Imperative # 2 -

Dr. Strange and the Defenders of the "Cancerverse" - evil counterparts to "our" Defenders, which while awesome-looking, are easily defeated and killed off (mostly off-panel).


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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

The Runner Ups:


- Avengers variant cover giant poster - 
Marko Djurdjevic's fabulous multi-cover image from all the Avengers titles reproduced as a gigantic poster! Beautiful, but a bit pricey (approximately $30.00 US, but still cheaper than getting all the variant cover issues). Doctor Strange and Iron Fist stand back to back, hands filled with energy.


- Dr. Strange Super Hero Squad "golden gloves" figure (wave # 19) -
Packed with a repurposed Iron Man figure, Doctor Strange gets his third Super Hero Squad figure!
Vastly improved from his first figure, which was more "happy jazz hands" Strange, this representation is more in keeping with Strange's physical appearance on the animated show.
As a bonus, the usually orange or yellow colored gloves, sash and cloak trim are shiny gold!
Add a new sculpt, better color choices and a dynamic pose (and better facial features) and this is a fun-sized piece of magic.


- Dormammu mini bust -
Interdimensional bringer of torment; The Dread DORMAMMU - scourge of the Dark Dimension and raison d'être for being the Sorcerer Supreme - was made available as a 7-inch mini-bust by Bowen Designs. Ssculpted by Jeremy Lloyd.
A nice piece, but not good enough to win the top honor.
Especially since all these high-price point items are being churned out even during a horrific recession. Yes, I got one, but only just barely.
Check out the pics and info [HERE]


- Doctor Strange apparel -
 FIVE different t-shirts and ONE pair of boxer shorts - all featuring Doctor Strange - were released in 2010. Impossible to choose a single one as the best. It's like asking a parent to choose their favorite baby. Check them out [HERE] and [HERE].


- Doctor Orpheus bobblehead -
Released by BIF! BANG! POW! Entertainment, this Doctor Strange homage-character was remade into bobblehead form for fans of the geektastic Venture Bros cartoon.
My write up can be found [HERE]


- Doctor Strange Marvel Masterworkss vol 1 trade paperback - painted cover edition - 
If it weren't for the item that took the top slot, I was going to name this as the winner of this category.

For reals.

I can hear everyone saying; "What? A trade paperback reprint book could win as top swag? Over action figures, statues, and underpants?" Yes. As hard as it is to believe, this reprint volume nearly won the top honors - for several reasons.

Fans of classic silver age stories long lament the choice of either spending a lot of cash for the hardcover Masterpiece books, or going the more affordable route of Essential volumes - which are only printed in black and white.

Now, high quality, full-color reproductions of classic silver age wonders are available in a more affordable price range.

To top it all off, quite literally, is a vibrant, newly painted cover!
With a mixed palette of bright, bold, neon hues and subdued, murky, dreamlike shades, painter Dean White lovingly realized the classic artwork of Doctor Strange creator; Steve Ditko, in all its surreal beauty!

Note: each new TPB edition of the Masterworks series come with a choice of two covers.
One is a riff on the hardcover versions, with an image of a cover from one of the comics represented in the volume. And the other is one of these repainted works, with a new painter (usually Dean White) rendering the older artworks of classic Marvel artists.
For my money, this is the way to go.

Perhaps, one of the reasons for my love of this edition is that its stylishly painted cover reminds me, wistfully, of those old "Fireside" trade editions that were on booksellers shelves in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Since then, I've always been a sucker for beautifully painted comic artwork.

This edition reprints: Strange Tales v1 # 110, #111 and #114 - 141 and Spider-Man Annual # 2.




The WINNER:

  - "The Picture of Everything" print by Howard Hallis -

A project that took 13 years to produce, Howard Hallis drew a series of oversized panels featuring... everything. Literally, EVERYTHING! If you can think of it, it is almost sure to be represented in this sprawling work that is over 15 feet tall!
Doctor Strange, Man-Thing, Rom and even my humble Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog are hidden in this phantasmagorical work (but no special favoritism was garnered, I assure you)!
A mixture of "Where's Waldo" and a never-ending Mobius-strip, the work houses, hides, and shines a light on everything that is and ever was: pop-culture, world-origins, religion and philosophies, it doesn't end, instead, one side leads directly to the opposite end and continues over and over again. 
The original is currently on display in a gallery show in Hollywood, California, (check out the pics [HERE]) but you can order limited edition prints ( 27" x 39" movie poster sized limited edition print of 420 signed and numbered pieces)!
Order yours NOW - [HERE]


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WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related SWAG:

The Runner Ups:



- B/W and Color Variant covers for Spider-Man # 641 (O.M.I.T. part 4) -
While each issue in this arc came with multiple variant covers, I needed to only concern myself with Quesada's variants of this one issue. Showing the window design of the Sanctum Sanctorum (albeit obscured by Spidey), but at such ridiculous order ratios that the B/W variant was quite rare and expensive.
One more nail in my collector-habit coffin. Marvel, I assure you that is but another straw on the back of my being a buyer of comics. Soon, I will break. You are being greedy and fueling the same mania that helped to nearly destroy the industry in the mid 1990's. Cut the shit!


- Variant Cover for New Avengers v2 # 1 -
Absolutely impeccable, digitally painted art by Marko Djurdjevic, yet the primary problem with it being that is is but one of a multi-cover image, split across the covers of all the Avengers titles. Collectors who want the whole pic will dig deep into their wallets for the variant covers of the assorted avengers issues.



- Variant cover for - Iron Man # 22 -
OK. This one was actually pretty nice, and, thanks to the LCS where I purchased it, not a cent more than the cover price. But still... it is a useless variant cover that adds nothing, only seeking to prey upon my nerdly habits to pick my pocket - and sap my soul.


- 2nd print variant covers for New Avengers issues # 1 - 3 -
Actually, this goes for all comics, but I am listing the New Avengers issues purely as an example.
Nearly as damaging to the pocketbook and sanity of fans, the 2nd print variant is a by-product of the "print-to-order" business model, so that once initial orders are sold out, any reorderes would require 2nd (and even 3rd or 4th) printings, and a new cover for each.
But, for completeists, it is less carrot and more stick.
Sure, it's our fault for being so crazed in our collector's mania, but one could easily see that publishers are using this as an excuse to garner more sales than the comic might initially merit.
Sales numbers get bumped up and the money rolls in... or out, depending on which end of the deal you're on. Still and all, predatory practices in publishing.


The "WINNER":

- Valkyrie Marvel Legends figure-

Let me see if I understand this properly.
Hasbro, who now own the rights to manufacture Marvel's toys, had a poll going (on their site and at conventions) to see what character fans wanted to see made into a Marvel Legends figure.
Of the hundreds of suggestions and the few who made it to voting status, Valkyrie; a popular character who was the longest-running member of the Defenders and is now a Secret Avenger, won as one of the few coveted final choices.
So, what does Hasbro do?
They make this "fan's choice" winner a "Toys R Us" exclusive!
So, if you don't have a Toys "R" Us store nearby then you'd best have been prepared to pay the insane markups on the secondary market.
So, now I am forced to wait for a year or so until the craziness dies down to try to buy one cheap on eBay. Hopefully, some time before next year's Sanctum Awards.
My write up on the fan-choice figures can be found [HERE]

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


BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

The Runner Up:



- Dr. Strange (unnamed) in : 'Ugly Americans' (season 1 episode 5) -
Seen in a very short clip on "UGLY AMERICANS" (season 1 episode 5) - a "copyright liberated" version of Doctor Strange is cast as a judge (dissing a pseudo "Harry Potter" lookalike) on a game-show "America's Next Top Wizard" (episode 23)- (obviously a mash-up of "America's Next Top Model" and "American Idol").
The "Snorecery!" can be seen [HERE].
"Snap!"


The WINNER:

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

Once again Orpheus IS Dr. Strange. Add in Jefferson 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".
It is seriously to the point where I can not read a Doctor Strange appearance in a comic without hearing it "spoken" in my mind by Orpheus' over-the-top melodramatic voice.
Good work, guys!

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



WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related HOMAGE:

Can't think of any this year.

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

The Runner Ups:



- Nighthawk - in : Super Hero Squad - s.2 ep. 06 "Whom Continuity Would Destroy" -
Nighthawk, long-time Defender's financial backer and one-man pep-squad made his 1st ever TV appearance in this episode, but with a few important aspects to know:
- It wasn't the "616" version of Nighthawk, but instead the Earth-2 "Squadron Supreme" incarnation, complete with dark, "Batman-esque" dialogue.
- Instead of wearing the Squadron version's blue and black costume, this Nighthawk wore the "616" blue, red and gold uniform.
- The voice was provided by none other than ADAM WEST!
- This was one of the best episodes of that show that  I have ever seen.
- Added bonus: Scarlet Witch also played a major role.


- Man-Thing - cameo appearance in Avengers animated series trailer -
Not quite an "appearance", instead merely a "photo" in a newspaper, but it IS Man-Thing.
I have yet to watch the actual show, so I don't know if this clip has aired in an episode yet.
The fact that Manny is even on the radar of the producers is a huge plus!
See post... [HERE]


The WINNER:

- Doctor Strange in : 'Avengers - 1952' - "PreMake" film  -

No. This wasn't an "official" Marvel release.
Yes. It is ALL KINDS of fanTAStic!
A fan-fic production by future film director; Ivan "eyevan" Guerrero, this is a work of love and inspired genius.
With nearly 20 Marvel characters and several classic comic locales interspersed within the film this is a joy to watch again and again just to see how layered the production value goes - classic film mash-up, with comic book roots, rewritten dialogue, new voice-overs and sound effects, digitally enhanced effects and details. Easter egg after Easter egg. Hidden gem after hidden gem.
While Doctor Strange's appearance is brief, it is handled respectfully and with all the mysticism one could hope for.
Check it out [HERE].

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



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



The "WINNER":

- Doctor Strange in : Super Hero Squad TV show -

Oh wait...  he wasn't even ON the show in any episodes that aired in 2010.
Yeah. That's what I meant by "worst appearance".
As bad as I think the SHS show is (purely my opinion - but I'm right), it is infinitely worse to be excluded from that show, knowing that doing so robs many potential fans of what could be their first glimpse at the Master of the Mystic Arts.

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BEST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

The Runner Ups:



- A cool ROM blog started - 
The uniquely titled; "Blog For ROM Fans Who Aren't Dicks" launched.
It provides cool looks into some obscure bits of ROM artwork and swag from across the globe.
It can be found [HERE]


- Another Doctor Strange blog casts its spell -
A great blog started up in 2010; entitled "Strange Occasions" its mission: showcase the "minor" Doctor Strange appearances (the little ones that slip by oft-unnoticed), even though the blog has tackled all the major showings as well.
It can be found [HERE]


- Dormammu, Shuma Gorath to be playable characters in Marvel vs Capcom 3 -
Doc heavies Dormammu and Shuma Gorath both smack down in the next installment of this popular series.
Dormammu is built in and Shuma is a Downloadable character for those who buy the deluxe edition.
As a bonus, advanced online orders at the Capcom site also scored an exclusive Shuma Gorath t-shirt!
Check out Dormammu in action [HERE]
And the T-Shirt can be seen [HERE]


- Dr Strange and Man-Thing rumored to be in Marvel vs Capcom 3 video game -
Still only a rumor, but Man-Thing is being listed as a non-playable character with speculation about the possibility of Strange appearing as a playable character. Early reports from Capcom execs had stated that Doc would NOT be in the game, (link to that news at the end of this post [HERE]), but that could have been a bit of misdirection. Especially since two of Strange's heaviest foes are active in the game.
Fingers crossed!


- Dr Strange IS indeed a playable character in the SuperHeroSquad ONLINE game -
While this looks like a whole heck of a lot of fun, and Doctor Strange is a playable character, I can't give it the top slot - primarily because I'm not good enough of a vid-game player to play with others online.
I prefer to mash buttons alone with a cheat book.
(I can never manage the special moves or remember the codes.)
A sneak peek can be seen [HERE]


- A DR. STRANGE movie -
Talks of a Doctor Strange flick are still being bandied about.
Disney may even have tested the waters, visual-effects-speaking with their live-action "Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring the groan-inducing Nicholas Cage.
Still, it doesn't look like anything that will happen before 2012 at the earliest.



The WINNER:

- Nothing, really -

Sadly, there really wasn't much in the way of "OMG!-worthy" news as far as Doc, Man-Thing,. or any of my faves are concerned.
So, you pick your own... "People's Choice Award" for this one.
If you're into Video Games, you have a few bits to choose from.
Comic-blog fan, a few good ones to check out.
Movie speculator? There ya go.
Did you hear anything on the wind? Let us know in the comments.
Otherwise... no news is sometimes good news.



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

WORST DOCTOR STRANGE/6-Dimensions-related NEWS:

The Runner Ups:



- No previously promised Brother/Doctor Voodoo, The Hood action figures -
At the 2009 Toy Fare, several new Marvel legends line figures were on display, showing what was to come in the new waves of releases.
Among the many items were three "6-Dimensions" characters;
Brother/Doctor Voodoo, The Hood and Valkyrie.
WHile Valkyrie made it to (select) store shelves, the other two never made it to production.
Check it my write up [HERE]


- 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.


- Doctor Strange is to remain as a New Avenger -
As bad as it is not having a Doc series, it seems to be far worse to leave him in the hands of Brian Bendis.



- ROM SPACEKNIGHT rights still in limbo -
The Dire Wraiths are back at Marvel with a renewed ferver, and even Spaceknights, as a whole, are coming back, but alas... no ROM.


"Certainly NOT The Winner":

- The shutterring of a Doctor Strange blog -
We won with the initial start-up and fantastic reviews presented by the "Strange Occasions" blog, but before the year ran out, the site's proprietor needed to call it quits for the foreseeable future.
As near as I can tell, personal events took some toll, and as such, we all hope that he is able to come out the other side, hale, hearty and ready to share his insightful thoughts on all those "Strange Occasions". I know I looked forward to his thoughtful articles and reviews, and spent more time commenting on his posts than I spent writing my own.

Along similar lines; I can surely relate, since - the job that I had started in early October (as detailed [HERE]) fizzled out and I was left unemployed, yet again before 2010 saw it's final day.
That is whyt my blogging has been erratic again, it was hard to blog when working full-time, and harder still while looking for work and worrying about loss of what little income there is now.
However, I am trying to stay positive. I refuse to retreat again, to give up the few things that I love.
And as such, I remain hopeful that the universe still holds some magic for me.


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

2011 PREDICTIONS: 


- Doctor Strange will continue to get abused by the powers that be -
Sadly, I'm not referring to the higher powers and mystic entities of the Marvel Universe.
No. I'm speaking of current mythos handler; Brian Bendis and the Marvel editorial management team.
It's going to get worse for Doc and his fans before it gets any better.



- Return of Doctor Voodoo! -
Somehow, some way, Voodoo isn't really dead.
And even if he is.. isn't the power of voodoo magic all about working with the deceased?


- The Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog will see another year!(?) -
THAT's a prediction we all want to come true, but one that's getting harder to manifest.


- There will be some Sanctum Sanctorum SWAG available? -
Oh, yes. That one is a certainty!
An ever-growing assortment of original and fan-friendly designed products that will surely be a hit with many a pop-culture fan.

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

Well, that's it for this year!
Thanks for stopping by.
Any thoughts, criticisms, agreeing and/or differing opinions?
Anything I may have overlooked or forgot to list?
Discuss them in the comments section.

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

Like these kind of specialty character-centric AWARDS SHOWS?
Then check out the all-seeing NEILALIEN's annual picks [HERE].
He's been doing this kind of thing for years!

--------------------------
* Award image at top of the post is a re-tooled image from Strange Tales v1 # 117, by Steve Ditko.

9 comments:

David H. said...

thanks for that plug Ptor for the ROM blog for fans that aren't dicks. that's all i got for now seeing as it's going to be a while before i can get to all the info. in this posting.

Lee K. Seitz said...

Okay, you're going to have to help me out. Where is Rom in the Picture of Everything? And so sorry to hear about the new job fizzling.

Lee K. Seitz said...

Oops, nevermind. Found him. (For everyone else, he's on the left end, in front of Godzilla's left leg.) Beside Captain Universe is appropriate, but behind Hot Stuff???

Richard Guion said...

Great set of awards, man! You have the same opinions as I do on all these topics, especially the recent New Avengers arc with Dr Strange and the bungling of mystic history.

I learned about a few new appearances on this list, too. No idea at all about Girl Comics or the other stuff. I will look those up.

A Brother Voodoo action figure? OMG. I have give up collecting statues or figures, but may have to get this one. I can't find it online anywhere, not even eBay. Would it still be at Toys R Us?

Glass said...

Highly entertaining and deliciously readable. I hope this blog sticks around - reading other people's ranting satisfies my disgust and keeps me from having to use up time to do ranting of my own. Thank you for this valuable service.

~P~ said...

Thanks for the positive comments.

I'm always eager to hear the thoughts of other fans...
keep 'em coming.

Oh,
@ Richard Guion...
Oh, dude... sorry if I accidentally raised your hopes, only to dash them to the rocks, but...
if you re-read the Doctor Voodoo action figure segment of the awards, you'll find it won WORST NEWS because the promised figure was NEVER MADE.

So... aside from looking at the prototype at the link I provided, looking for one will only lead to madness, unless you are willing to pay crazy prices for a custom one.
Some people make custom figs and resell them.

Heck, for several years (pre-Legends) I used to make custom figures, all the time.

Never sold them, though.
Made them for my own collection.

Hopefully, one day this year I'll showcase them.

Hey.
Don't give up hope.
Maybe one day a Doctor Voodoo Legends figure WILL be made.

Although, it's more likely to be in the 3inch Marvel Universe line...

~P~

mike said...

you're probably already aware of this, but just in case you're not - newsarama has an article about dr. strage's style over the years.

http://blog.newsarama.com/2011/02/04/agent-of-s-t-y-l-e-doctor-strange-and-the-hoary-hemlines-of-hoggoth/comment-page-1/

Richard Guion said...

I just forgot to read the text when I saw the picture of Doctor Voodoo. Anyway, what I really want is...an action figure of BROTHER Voodoo, wearing the classic John Romita Sr costume. Wouldn't that be a kick?

Fox said...

Finally got around to reading this, long after I had wanted to. Things indeed took a terrible turn for me this year, and losing my job was the least devastating of the lot. I really have to thank you for your mentions in these awards though, seriously brought tears to my eyes.

While I doubt I will be able to return to Strange Occasions with the same thoroughness I had before (a combination of many factors all came together to allow me a pretty good first-hand look into every week's new releases that is gone now), I do want to pick it up and at least TRY to make something of it, even if I have to take it in another direction. I have to wait until the Eternity stops kicking me in the junk though.

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