Sunday, February 26, 2012

Let's Do The TIME-WARP, Again....

In case you don't track my Twitter feed (and why not?), and you might only check the blog as you come across it, you might MISS a few blog posts that I tossed up utilizing the time-warp effect made possible by the internet.

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Now, let's not delay... we must go back... back... back.... in time...
To do this, we must learn the art of Time Travel...

This lesson in time travel courtesy of Doctor Strange and Clea.
Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 17 by Steve Englehart (writer) & Gene Colan (art).


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Due to lack of time to complete typing up some posts during the week, a few entries that I wasn't able to post on time had to be backdated to fit on their required dates.

1 backdated to ASH WEDNESDAY :
Ashes to Ashes - Dust to Dust - Unless You're DR. STRANGE. [HERE]

1 Backdated to yesterday:
Neilalien : Not Quite Gone - Never Forgotten - [HERE]

1 new one for today:
CARELESS WHISPERS - REDUX
(winners of the "What did Dr. Strange say to Red She-Hulk?" contest). - [HERE]

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So, don't wait - check 'em out today!
Although, with the benefit of time-travel... they should be there - waiting for you -  whenever you get around to it.

It's just a jump - to the left....

CARELESS WHISPERS : REDUX
The RESULTS of a Reader-Participation Post

Last month, I posted a contest, of sorts, asking for suggestions to just what it might have been that Doctor Strange whispered to Red She Hulk in order for her to transform back to her human self in DEFENDERS v4 # 2. That post can be found - [HERE] (My complete review of the issue can be found [HERE]).

As anyone who read the issue (or even just my post(s) on it) knows, Red She Hulk needed to be SCARED in order to revert back to her human persona (that of Betty Ross). But, as a 7 foot tall, invulnerable, super-strong powerhouse, one can only imagine that it isn't an easy task to find something with which to sufficiently scare her. Even harder; imagine what could be so terrifying to be able to frighten her by it merely being whispered into her ear.

However, as seen in that issue of Defenders, Doctor Strange did just that.
The catch being, that the readers were not made privy to what was said. Only that it scared the living heck out of her, and that she then referred to Strange as; "the Creep".


So, to that end, I posed the aforementioned hypothetical question / contest to see what you, my readers, thought Doctor Strange may have said.  My own entry can be found at the original post - [HERE]. Your entries are now revealed below:

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Fanfix left a slew of entries; each as odd as the last. The best were:

"I’ve never been so hard.";

"...demonic, pants, fantastic, farewell!"
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H went classic Star Wars-ian with...
 "Betty... I am your father."
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DrFurball actually went to the effort of using the template I provided and produced an actual image.
 http://i.imgur.com/wX0A5.png
click to embiggen

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H came up to bat again with a few new entries:
 
Starting with the appropriately meta;
 
"Your character is currently being written by Matt Fraction!"
 
And then continuing with the near-winner;

"I picture every woman I meet in Clea leggings. And Namor."
 
And the unnerving;
"Did I mention I'm an OB/GYN?"
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Bill tossed his hat in the ring with a last minute entry;
"Rick Santorum is beating Obama."
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And... the WINNER, with the absolutely MOST TERRIFYING thing that ANYONE could say to a fictional character is...
 


Oh. The HORROR!

This entry  (which I photoshopped into the entry presented above) was submitted by an "anonymous" commenter.

Such a shame, because the PRIZE for the Winning Entry was to be a truly awesome and valuable one - I was to appear at your home, or place of employment - in full Dr. Strange costume - and give to the winner a mint copy of Strange Tales # 110 - signed by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (and the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge).

Oh well... better luck to everyone next time!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Neilalien : Not Quite Gone - Never Forgotten

When someone has been a part of your life for a long time, and then, they are suddenly no longer there, it is inevitable that there be a period of mourning - whether they be deceased or having merely moved on.

Such is the case today, on the 1st year anniversary of the recusal of long-time comics blogger; NeilAlieN.

Seriously. He was the very first comics blogger, having detailed the published existence of Dr. Strange, his peripheral worlds (including the real-world connections, such as famed creator Steve Ditko), as well as the business of comic book publishing... for 11 continuous years.

Every comics blog owes a debt of thanks to the he who came before all others, as there was no such thing as a comic blog before he invented the format which all others emulate - in some capacity - to this day.

It should be known, he hasn't totally forsaken his blog, as he is still posting occasional links to news and items of interest... from his orbital HQ.

Still, it would be a poor thing if this day was not honored - at least for this, the first year, in commemoration of the day a trailblazing maverick decided to step back and admire what he hath wrought...

...from his orbital HQ.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ASH WEDNESDAY
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust...
Unless You're DR. STRANGE

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ASH WEDNESDAY is the day, in the Christian faith, that is the beginning of Lent; a 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting, before Easter Sunday - the day that believers the world-over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Traditionally, the ashes (which are the burnt remains from the previous year's Palm Sunday palm-tree leaves) are placed upon the forehead of the worshipper in the shape of a cross.

This is to be a visible reminder of our mortality.
While applying the ashes, the priest or celebrant will typically state:
"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."
However, for we comic book nerds, Doctor Strange had his own version of this marking, and it also appeared on his forehead to let him know that he was in mortal danger.
I am, of course, referring to the Ankh.

1st appearance of the Ankh, from Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4
Steve Englehart (writer), Frank Brunner (artist)

Starting from Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4 and continuing through a few decades, until it was eventually phased out, the Ankh was the go-to method for letting the reader know that something dire was happening to Dr. Strange, as it also made Doc aware of his own impending doom.

Image from Man-Thing v2 # 4
(Man-Thing drowning poor old Doc.)
Chris Claremont (writer), Don Perlin & Bob Wiacek (artists)
John Costanza (letters),  Ben Sean (colors)

However, unlike you or I, the threat of our mortal form reverting back to the dust whence we came isn't something that deeply concerns a Master of the Mystic Arts.

For, earlier in the same issue that this previous image was taken (Man-Thing v2 # 4), Doctor Strange was drained of nearly all of his life-energies and reduced to an elderly, withered husk of his former self - yet, with the power of magic, he was able to completely rejuvenate himself.

Ashes to Ash...uh, nevermind. Feelin' fine.

The ankh was bestowed upon Strange when he passed the test of mastery over death, and was granted an immortality of sorts. Details of that can be found in a previous blog post [HERE].

So, during this Lenten season, when you reflect upon your failings and mortality, remember... Doctor Strange is better than you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NOBODY EXPECTS... THE SPANISH INQUISITION!


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No. This hasn’t suddenly become a MONTY PYTON fan-site. It’s just that I was working on a series of upcoming posts detailing a number of concerns that I have with Doctor Strange’s handling over the years, and the number of specific points kept going up. As soon as I detailed what my major peeve was, that one would bring forth another. What started as ONE item, soon became THREE. Then, after I detailed those three (and actually wrote much of the three posts, and then wrote this post), a FOURTH rose to the top (and I had to toss out some great jokes dealing with "3's"). Between this increasing number of points and that thought of how my accusatory in-the-works blog-posts might be seen as some kind of  “Inquisition”, thus led the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ skit to bloom full into my noggin.

That which THEN led me to think of the time that DOCTOR STRANGE came close to dying at the hands of those he would least expect...

Because....
DUM-DUM-DUMMMMM…

NOBODY EXPECTS...
THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

So, here, as a prelude to my standing as Grand Inquisitor over Marvel’s unholy witchcraft on Dr. Strange (yeah, I know… that was a bit much, just go with it)… I present to you a portion of DOCTOR STRANGE; Master of the Mystic Arts # 52 by Roger Stern, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin.

This issue blends the "romance" of an eternal love, the sexiness of a shirtless, sideburns-rockin' Stephen Strange, a little time-travel cosplay, and the dynamism of an action-hero adventure where Strange relies more on his muscles than his magic!
(So, to the ladies and my gay readers, I say; "You're welcome.") 

*Remember... all images can be made larger by a click (or a right-click - open in new tab)

 Now THAT's a cover! Not only is it a stylishly designed "pin-up",
but all of that crazy crap actually happens IN the issue!


While on a journey through time, Doctor Strange traveled back through the multiple past lives of then-future girlfriend; Morganna Blessing, in order to capture her soul-shard and thus save her life and the very existence of humankind’s collective consciousness.
This mission was cast to Strange by the fear-lord; Nightmare, who knew that if the shard was not stopped, mankind would soon go mad – or perish, and so too would he.








After materializing in 15th century Spain, Stephen Strange meets the living incarnation of she who will bear the soul shard, but is quickly betrayed… drugged… and cast before the Inquisitor’s tribunal.






What happens next is a delightful hallmark of the Roger Stern era of Doctor Strange – one where he is an adept physical combatant - wherein he fights, hand-to-hand, utilizing the martial arts training that he received while studying magic in Tibet, this time against the forces of the Spanish army.






Marshall Rogers’s exemplary input was his always innovative and imaginative displays of sorcery –especially his method of portraying dimensional travel – but also his skills as an architectural illustrator.
 His Doctor Strange existed within realistically rendered settings. With an added flourish of choreographing scenes in a manner that the great Steve Ditko or Will Eisner would admire, (and future artists like Marcos Martin would emulate,) Rogers allows for a sequence of events to be carried out over a multi-panel backdrop that manages to maintain showing the whole of the environment in which it takes place.



Still, despite not EXPECTING the Spanish Inquisition, Doctor Strange more than proved himself able to handle this sect and not only escape with his life, but defeat its lead Inquisitor.



I won’t give away the rest of the battle or the ending… save, suffice it to say, sadly, he failed in his mission, and had to continue his quest for the macguffin soul-shard further into the past.



But therein lies a tale for another day.

There is nothing about this issue that causes me grief. It is excellently written, with a tightly-paced plot, on-the-nose characterization, superb (if not a little cartoonish at times) illustration, and best of all, while it is a part of a larger multi-issue arc, this issue stands on its own and is not, in any way decompressed. In fact, this is but one chapter in the issue (there are three – each fully realized with beginning, middle and end)!
THIS is how comics should be done!

I did not present scans of the entire issue, nor the entire story (but one chapter in that issue), so that you might enjoy the experience of discovering it on your own (and keep me under the radar of litigious mouse-eared lawyers).
The issue and the arc can be found – among other stories, in the following collected editions:







The team of Roger Stern and Marshall Rogers were among the very best tenures of caretakers for the mystic master. While Rogers was only on the title for a scant few issues, Stern’s other artistic counterparts included; Paul Smith, Dan Green, Steve Leialoha, Bret Blevens, Michael Golden and more!

Monday, February 13, 2012

MYSTERY DATE!
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HAPPY ST. VALENTINE'S DAY from DOCTOR STRANGE

Normally, on St. Valentine's Day, I like to commemorate the "day of love" with some presentation of 4-color comic-book romance!

Be it with deep, introspective gazes into the love-life of Doctor Stephen Strange (like HERE) or an in-depth look at his numerous love-interests (in an epic post HERE) or with an entry to the "Clea Loves Sex" series (which can be found HERE), - or even the year where I immersed the blog into the mire of the Man-Thing's sensitive side ([HERE]), we always took a look back at previous romantic histories of our favorite mystical characters.

However, this year we have to look to the future and wait - with baited breath and eager anticipation of a love to come... a romance unknown...
...a MYSTERY DATE.

Who Is The Great Lost Love Of Dr. Strange’s Life?

DEFENDERS v4 # 4
Written by Matt Fraction, 
Interior Art by Michael Lark, Cover Art by Terry Dodson



 It would seem that while contemplating the Concordance Engine, Doctor Strange releases some aspect of his own inner desires and this red-haired beauty steps forth into his life.


With scenes of tranquil, resplendent, youthful love, DEFENDERS v4 # 4 promises to feature some bright, hopeful spark for the romantic life of Doctor Stephen Strange.


Sadly, however, this love can not hope to last.

Firstly, this fair, red-haired ingenue seems to be exactly that... a youth. Far too young (at least as she is depicted in the preview art and cover) for Stephen Strange - who is by far her senior (as his official Marvel bio states he was born in 1930).  Coupled with the fact of Strange's improper dalliance with a college grad-student in issue # 1, this is a disturbing trend.

And secondly, seemingly as a product of the Concordance Engine, I'd have to wonder at exactly how REAL this young lady might actually be. Could she be naught but an answer to an unspoken desire by the Doctor? The dream-stuff of another reality to serve as a temptation for the mystic master - to lead him astray from his true path? OR perhaps she is meant to be an incentive - to leave behind his life of strife and instead begin a life of leisure, pleasure and love?

According to the solicits and interviews, we are asked "Who Is The Great Lost Love Of Dr. Strange’s Life?" Initially, I was not overly exited by the prospect of Matt Fraction performing some ret-con on Stephen Strange's romantic history - especially as Fraction has been a huge let-down thus far as far as his handling of Strange is concerned, yet the teaser images of Michael Lark's artwork is winning me over.

I would have preferred that this issue, a love-story, would have hit spinner racks in February, (Defenders ships the first week in each month and this issue would have been perfect as a Valentine,) but sadly, this won't manifest until March - so we will have to mark the calendar - wait and wonder at what is to be.

Be assured, that as soon as this issue ships, I will add this young lady (as well as some other 'Strange Loves" that I have unearthed) to the complete list of every romantic interest of Stephen Strange - [HERE].


Until then, please let me express my LOVE for you all - in the manner which will be familiar to those followers of Doctor Strange: The 'American Sign Language' symbol for " I Love You".


"I LOVE YOU!"
HAPPY ST. VALENTINE'S DAY!


~P~
PTOR

Saturday, February 11, 2012

ROAD TRIP!
Doctor Strange in: 'The Incredible Drive'
Marvel/Toyota: Yaris commercials
A "MAGIC of VIDEO" Post

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Coming off of the mammoth, herculean task of orchestrating my Annual SANCTUM AWARDS post and with a lot of big things planned for this blog over the next few weeks (and beyond) I thought it best to toss in a few "lighter" pieces in the interim.

Not that these aren't good posts, but for those who are used to my epic-length dissertations, the next few days will be of briefer (yet awesome) stuff.

To that end, for this weekend, I wanted to present something fun.

This four-part, online-only commercial series for the 2012 Toyota Yaris "It's A CAR!" promo, was a collaboration by TOYOTA and the folks at MARVEL who produce the "WHAT THE--?" stop-motion animated shorts.

Starring; Hulk, Doctor Strange and the Punisher, and featuring Marvel Super Heroes & villains (or at least their Marvel Legends Action Figure equivalent), this series shows them taking part in a road trip to Cleveland - with all the “hilarity” that thus ensues.


Originally begun in November 2011 with monthly installments, I waited until the 4-part series was completed to present it here complete.

While I'm not thrilled with Doctor Strange's treatment here (or in any of his previous "WHAT THE--?" appearances), still, there ARE some good parts.
And look for an AWESOME cameo appearance by MAN-THING in episode two!


I'm presenting these as lower res videos hosted here on my blog, rather than on YouTube, because frankly, while i want to showcase them, I don't need any hassles with "the man" wanting me to take them down, or having my YouTube account shuttered.
However, by placing them here, with some commentary, criticism - AND helping to advertise their respective products, I call into play the "FAIR USE" clause.

The quality here is pretty good, but if you absolutely must see them in sparkling high-res, they can be found on Marvel's and Toyota's pages.

Enjoy!

video





video





video





video


As I pointed out in my 4th ANNUAL SANCTUM AWARDS [HERE], the first two episodes had the dubious honor of "winning" for "WORST MEDIA APPEARANCE".
(The last two came out in the first two months of 2012, respectively - and as such, will probably be contenders for that self-same "prize" in the 2012 SANCTUM AWARDS.)

While it should be freakin’ awesome for there to be Doctor Strange featured in a national advertising campaign, and one that isn’t utterly terrible (there are a few funny points to each episode), the fact that Doc is portrayed as a whining, irritatingly high-pitched-voiced, annoyance makes me feel that it might be better to not have him involved at all, rather than be so poorly represented (especially as Marvel needs to increase Doc's media Q-rating for any future big-media push... *cough* Feature Film *cough*).