Sunday, April 22, 2012

SAVE THE EARTH : the SUPER-HERO WAY
EARTH DAY 2012

EARTH DAY!

The day when we especially try to do our very best to protect and preserve our planet: Earth.
We, as regular folks, can do many things to try and ensure the long, harmonious existence of our world; such as: Recycling, composting, abstaining from littering, avoiding water waste, using electricity and fossil fuels sparingly, and such.

However, our 4-color heroes have a higher level to maintain; such as: preventing world destruction and stuff like that.

In order to achieve this, some heroes have set up satellite watchtowers, or partnered with law-enforcement to establish sky-borne alert signals so as to help keep a bigger view on trouble than they might otherwise be able to root out on their own.

Still others set up elaborate detection devices that scan the globe for danger-zones.

Doctor Strange has long employed such a device.
In lieu of his Orb of Agamotto (think: crystal ball that can see into other dimensions) he often would use an enchanted globe, upon which evil would manifest as a glowing red or black point of "light".

As far back as his earliest appearances in 'Strange Tales' from the 1960's he would use this Earth image to root out evil that might endanger our world.


The Earth Orb as seen on the cover envelope of the
 1983 Doctor Strange portfolio by Michael Golden.



Strange continued to use the enchanted globe on other occasions, such as the time that he had (seemingly) destroyed the Orb of Agamotto and his other talismans of power (at the end of the 'Master of the Mystic Arts' series and into the 'Strange Tales' v2 era) in order to defeat an otherworldly menace.




Of course, he had soon regretted his decision to destroy his talismans, as that act once again let loose all the ancient evils to the face of the Earth.

Defeating them one after another, gaining their powers (and darker energies) to himself, he eventually made his way down to the lowest depths of existence to confront and combat the ultimate of the ancient evils; Shuma Gorath.




Despite the fact that by this point, Dr. Strange was nearly godlike in power, he still remembered the Earth and his vow to protect it - at all costs.





"At all costs" usually means that the hero will suffer all manifestations of sorcerous slings and metaphysical arrows to protect the person (or in this case billions of people) to which he has sworn safety.


Of course... "at all costs" can kind of go both ways... so if it takes destroying the Earth (metaphysically, anyway) in order to save it from a worse evil, then that's just how some heroes might have to roll.



Boom goes Shuma Gorath - and the mystically linked Earth.
OK. So, sometimes, protecting the Earth doesn't always go as planned.


Let's take a look at another hero; ROM: SPACEKNIGHT!
Here we see that he has constructed a "wraith-finder" in order to detect the alien threat of the Dire Wraiths anywhere on the Earth.


With this he would be able to stand as a solitary sentinel against the hidden menace of shape-changing monsters who would try to kill us all and take over our world.



This image is a metaphorical image. ROM isn't a super-giant cyborg whose right foot is crushing millions of Canadians.
But, it's a visual shorthand for the sort of long-winded vow that ROM espouses (as seen below) detailing that he will stay and defeat the wraith menace no matter how long it takes.



Now THAT's a HEROIC ideal to saving the Earth from evil menaces!
ROM is a hero we can count on!


Well, at least for a few more issues, until he cleanses the world of the specific menace that he came to eradicate. Then, he ditches us to hot-foot it back into space.


Thanks ROM... I guess it would have been too much to hang around and fight other world-threats.
But, it's cool... the Spaceknight Union won't allow you to touch anything non-Wraith oriented.
See ya around.


OK, so maybe Super Heroes aren't always all that good about the whole "Save the Earth" thing.
But that doesn't mean that WE can't still try.


---
* BONUS EXTRA *

On the subject of "Earth Day" and all things "green" - this past Friday was April 20th; otherwise known as 4-20 or "green day".

This is an unofficial "holiday" by pot aficionados to "celebrate" their use of "the green".
Man-Thing, being a swamp creature (and mostly composed of weeds, and such) has a word or three for those who would otherwise "partake"...

"Just Say No"
When offered an hallucinogenic tuber by Swamp-Thing (or in this case; "Swamp-THANG", as it was an issue of the spoof-comic; "What The---?", #6 to be exact), Man-Thing (or in this case; "Man-THANG") decides not to bow to peer pressure.

Anyway, however you decide to celebrate our beautiful planet; EVERY DAY should be Earth Day... so... Have Many HAPPY EARTH (and GREEN) DAYS!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

With A Little Help From My Friends...


The Sanctum Sanctorum Comix Blog
by Michael Golden

 ---

While I am otherwise "engaged" with work-related stuff, and before I am fully able to complete my long-promised multi-part epic essay post ("5-Fingers of Death for Doctor Strange"), I thought that, like Doctor Strange and his DEFENDERS, I would rely on the aid of my friends to help carry the day.

Over the past year or so, friend-of-the-blog, and fellow ROM; Spaceknight fan; David Holsey (owner / operator of the "Blog for Rom Fans Who Aren't D!¢%s") has been sending me his own photo-manipulated composites of images and artwork of my three favorite comic book heroes - ROM Spaceknight, Man-Thing and Doctor Strange.

So, I thought it was high-time (or really, long past the time) for me to showcase them here and say thanks for all the positive thoughts and gestures of friendship and good will.

I hope you all enjoy these as much as I.

---


Man-Thing art by Greg Land, Dr. Strange statue by Bowen Designs, ROM fan-art by ?   

---

Man-Thing and ROM
by Michael Golden

---


An embarrassing cover photo montage of ROM and myself dressed as Doctor Strange 
(from a photo taken in 1997 for a Wizard Magazine Halloween Costume Contest 
- of which I blogged a few years back [HERE])


(the above photo of ROM taken from an old 1980's promotional pic of Marvel characters making public appearances.)

---

And last but not least, this segment of a re-touched image by Michael Golden from the famed "Merry Marvel Marching Confusion" print, wherein David H. superimposed a pose of ROM - also drawn by Golden, to make a perfect storm of my blog-trilogy heroes.


You can see the complete image over at David's blog [HERE].

And you can read this old post, here on my blog, all about how WHY those three heroes are the "Founding Fathers" of my comic-reading habit [HERE] - which is what inspired David to send these to me.

Thanks, dude.

Monday, April 16, 2012

DOCTOR STRANGE faces DEATH and TAXES!
(But Mostly Taxes)

---

With the exception of DEATH, (unless you're a nigh-immortal sorcerer,) TAXES are the only true constant of life here on Earth for we mere mortals.

Yet, even for one such as Doctor Stephen Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts, taxes are a dire peril that can not be avoided or defeated.

For as seen in this scene, Dr. Strange must divert his attentions away from studying grimoires to determining if he can deduct the upper level of his home; his Sanctum Sanctorum, as office space on his taxes.

click to Government-size
Stan Lee checks in on his old pal Stephen Strange
STAN LEE MEETS DOCTOR STRANGE # 1
Stan Lee (writer), Alan Davis (artist)

This post is a definite companion-piece and continuation of my last such entry (which can be found [HERE]), wherein I presented the varied times in Strange's published history where the Supreme Sorcerer had to deal with DEATH... and TAXES (but mostly Taxes).



--

A Public Service Announcement:
Don't forget U.S. residents,  Tuesday, APRIL 17th is Income Tax Day...
(Yes, normally it is the 15th, but this year with that date falling on a Sunday and then the 16th being a Federal Holiday in the District of Columbia -that's the D.C. in Washington D.C.-, it fell to the next day - the 17th)
you have until Midnight on Tuesday, April 17th to file... 
or Beware the wrath of the Terrible TAX-MAN!!!

---

Friday, April 13, 2012

Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club (part II) :
STRANGE SWAG

As introduced in my most previous post, (which featured an uber-rare, online-exclusive, bonus-content audio-play [HERE],) I discussed the basics of the Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club.

In 2006, (and into 2007,) Scholastic Books teamed up with Marvel Comics to form the Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club; a subscription book (and collectibles) club, where you would sign up to receive 10 shipments (with a low price first shipment, and then 9 additional - and more expensive - deliveries) of Book Club goodies every month.

Initial Shipment
Including: the first of a series of 10 story "chapter" books, a magazine, a sticker sheet, some toys, a game board and pieces for a "battle" game, a set of collectible cards in an illustrated tin case AND a poster (which when combined with the other 9 posters form a JUMBO-size mega-poster image)! 


Each additional shipment included a Super Hero Adventure Book, a new issue of Marvel Magazine, a 20-Trading Card Booster Pack, a Super Hero Poster and Marvel Stickers, plus continued Website access for the secret online-only content, much like the audio-play featured last post.

Of course, the primary (and, frankly - ONLY) reason that I signed up for the service was in the fleeting hope that - eventually - there would be some DOCTOR STRANGE content in one (or more) of the shipments.

As most DOC-fans of any substantial length of time will readily attest, there is a dearth of Dr. Strange content when it comes to Marvel general merchandise. Sure, Wolverine, Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man are on everything and anything, but the chances of Doctor Strange being shown on any merchandise item are slim-to-nil.

However, hope springs eternal for the die-hard fan, and as luck would have it, a part of the initial shipment contained a sticker sheet that had a sticker featuring Doctor Strange!

Apologies for some of these poor pics.
My photography staging area is currently a disaster area, and I needed to get these done quickly.

Doc shown 2nd row - 1st sticker on the left.


This was enough to keep me coming back for more shipments - every month - for 10 months... in the slim hope that there would be (there HAD to be) more. 


The fourth shipment was a HULK shipment - with book, poster segment and magazine all featuring the green goliath, and it made sense to me that with their long, historied connection, that Dr. Strange would be featured somewhere therein.

Disappointingly, the audio play that I featured last post was Doc's only contribution to that shipment.
But, still... that kept my hope alive.

But, with shipment after shipment coming with absolutely no Doctor Strange content, I was ready to cut my losses and cancel my subscription. I kept on, however, due to my paranoia that once I canceled, that a Doctor Strange related shipment would have been the very next one. And so I waited it out... all the way to the end.

Good thing that I did.

For the 10th and final shipment was what could be considered the "everything but the kitchen sink" shipment. The "everybody else" assortment.

It featured a Silver Surfer magazine...



And while the magazine didn't have anything with Dr. Strange within (surprising since there was also the long, historied relationship between the Surfer & Strange as Defenders) the shipment did contain several items of STRANGE swag!

Like every other shipment, this one also came with a sticker sheet.
In an ironic symmetry, this last shipment's sticker sheet (like the first shipment's) would also feature a Doctor Strange sticker.

Doc shown 2nd row - 2nd sticker from the right.

Each shipment would also come with a pack of cards for a CCG, and this shipment would finally contain a card for Doctor Strange.



While that would be a nice treat (and a rare addition to my insane collection of Strange-related collectible cards), an even better treat would also lie within this shipment:

The storybook that featured DOCTOR STRANGE (and the Avengers) vs GALACTUS.



The story featured a pot-lock / potpourri of heroes, most closely resembling the line-up of the "Bendis-vengers" in a battle to save the Earth from Galactus and his many heralds (none of which were heralds ever seen before in comics canon). Actually, while the book title is listed as the Avengers vs Galactus, is was really "Everybody vs Galactus", since the devourer of worlds would be faced by not only the World's Mightiest Heroes, but also the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and many solo heroes.

Doctor Strange is written as dealing with several of the heralds, so that the heroes can take the battle to Galactus. Here's a pic with an excerpt:

click to read


And last, but certainly not least, the shipment also had a mini-poster which featured the DEFENDERS (minus the Hulk, who is on his own poster) versus Galactus!

click to Galactus-size


This 11" x 17" mini-poster was the final segment of the 22" x 85" mega-image battle-scene that would be made when all ten posters were aligned in their proper positions.

click to mega-size!


Sadly, the club shuttered not long after this final shipment - depriving other dorks...uh... darling children from the wonders of the Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club (part I) :
SURPRISES in the SANCTUM SANCTORUM
"HULK's Surprise" Audio Play

If you recall from my recent birthday post, I promised to present to you, my fine readers, some cool oddities and rarities as my gift to you!

Today I would like to present to you something that I can almost guarantee, only the most die-hard of Marvel fan will ever have heard - or heard OF.
(Yes, I know. I ended on a preposition - which is something I loathe, but I had to do so... for emphasis.)


Below, I have uploaded an Audio Play featuring Doctor Strange and the Defenders (STARRING the HULK) !

It was originally Online-Only Bonus-Content for a series of Marvel Comics' publications... (but NOT comic books).

Intrigued?
Well, listen to the audio play and I'll catch you afterward with the 4-1-1 on the origins of this obscure bit of Strangeness.


video


Aside from the poor production values and obvious single actor performing all the parts (with nary a voice alteration to help differentiate between the characters) as well as some mispronounced names of characters and spells... you'll hear this audio play beginning at what seems to be a continuation of some other story. This audio file was what was made available by going to a web-site (no longer active) that was listed in the pages of a tangible book and magazine, and is an unofficial segue from the story found therein.

If you read my impromptu credits at the end of the clip, you'll see that this was produced by
Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club.

Now, I can hear you all saying;
"Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club...?
What the heck is THAT?!?"

Back in 2006 (and into 2007) Scholastic Books (yes, the people who brought you Clifford the Big Red Dog) teamed up with Marvel Comics to form the Marvel Super Heroes Collector's Club.
A subscription children's book (and collectibles) club service, where you would sign up to receive 10 shipments (with a low price first shipment, and then 9 more - and slightly more expensive - deliveries) of Book Club goodies, every month.

The first shipment (shown below) came with the first of a series of 10 story "chapter" books, a magazine, a sticker sheet, some toys, a game board and pieces for a "battle" game, a set of collectible cards (for a CCG) in an illustrated tin case AND a poster (which when combined with the other 9 posters form a JUMBO-size mega-poster image)!




Originally, I was going to make a massive blog-post with everything related to today's special content, but I thought the rest of the items would be better served in their own post (so come back see that stuff)!

Obviously, however, I'm not going to present all 10 monthly shipments (books, posters, sticker sheets, card packs, etc...), I'm only going to showcase the ones with DOCTOR STRANGE!

(But, if anyone is interested, I will be putting the others up for sale on the eBay before long. I'm in the process of gathering cool stuff for my Summer sales launch - so keep an eye out for it).

---
*UPDATE*
04/13/2012
Just thought I'd link to PART 2 of this entry [HERE]
---

If you liked THIS audio play and want to hear others, I've posted a few over the years:
Feel free to check 'em out!

DOCTOR STRANGE vs NIGHTMARE (from Marvel Phone Cards) [HERE]
MAN-THING - "Night of the Laughing Dead" (Book and Record Set) [HERE]

Monday, April 9, 2012

STRANGE (BIRTH)DAYS HAVE FOUND US

Yup... it's my birthday (again?!?) and while I don't have the available time to put into composing one of my usual extended-subject birthday posts (like this ROM Spaceknight birthday post [HERE] or this ROM revisited post [HERE] or this Philosophy of my Love of Comics post [HERE]), I do have this: A personal Birthday Surprise from the prime subject of this blog; Doctor Stephen Strange!

Those better not be "trick" candles where I keep blowing them out and they constantly reignite...

A slightly re-edited page from:
UNCANNY ORIGINS # 12 (1997)
Len Wein (writer) and Marc Campos (art)


Yes, I slightly re-edited the text (and an image) from the page... but hey, how many comics do you think there are with Doctor Strange whipping out a three-tier birthday cake from within the folds of his cloak of levitation?!

I may have some goodies for YOU - dear readers - in a day or so... (I'd have included it/them in this post, but it/they really deserves its/ their own post(s) ) consider it a Birthday Gift from ME to you.

But, until then... I'll just mellow out on my day to the words of Jim Morrison:

Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours
We linger alone
Bodies confused
Memories misused
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone

Friday, April 6, 2012

HE DIED FOR US... AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD
(An Existential Metaphysical Message from Dr Strange)

GOOD FRIDAY to EASTER SUNDAY...

...the series of days that Christians the world over celebrate the resurrection of Christ, after his crucifixion and death at the hands of the Roman Empire.

And while not everyone is of Christian faith, EVERYONE here can be united in their belief in and discipleship of the Master of the Mystic Arts; the Sorcerer Supreme... DOCTOR STRANGE!

While not meaning to spout blasphemy or be heretical in any way, even Doctor Strange can be seen as a (fictional) messiah of sorts...

For the sake of saving the world, he undertook the role of Master Mystic, and through the ascension of his "father-figure" he became the Sorcerer Supreme.

Then to save us all (well... really he was pretty much trying to save his own life and that of his disciple/lover; Clea... but I'm sure we were on his mind), he accepted the inevitability of death itself as an option in all things, and then... died.


However, death is not the end, but merely a transitional phase of existence - a part of the cycle of life.
In this way, combined with mystical pathways, Dr. Strange was then able to transcend death - and be reborn - resurrected!

 "Died - and Risen!"
Doctor Strange transcends death BY DYING...
Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4 Englehart and Brunner

Certainly, while we may not be able to rise from the grave after we shuffle off this mortal coil, we can take heart in the message given to us by Christianity, Jewish eschatology or Chan / Zen Buddhism... or that of Doctor Strange... that Death is not the end... but only a New Beginning!