Not quite 6-feet under, but at times it's felt pretty darned close (especially when I - due to a stubborn nature [and an empty bank-account] - decide to try to go to work while at less than full energy, and with little to no sleep).
Still, while in the middle of a fever-dream, during a particularly harsh night of sweats and chest pain, I somehow thought of the instances wherein DOCTOR STRANGE fought against DEATH itself.
I don't mean "fighting against death", in the figurative sense. All super-heroes do that, each and every time they fight to stay alive. As do we all.
No. I mean fighting the actual embodiment of DEATH!
DEATH: the ENTITY.
Almost NO superheroes ever do that.
Usually, if DEATH is involved, (s)he uses a proxy or an "angel of..." to act in his/her/its stead.
But to go up against the skeletal-faced, and dark-robed avatar of THE END of our physical existence... is a feat usually reserved for the few.
Yet, Doctor Strange has done so more than once.
The first recorded instance being in the classic DOCTOR STRANGE: Master of the Mystic Arts #4.
Story by Steve Englehart. Cover and art by Frank Brunner
I've posted many page scans from that issue over the years. In it, Strange is trapped at the center of the unreal world at the heart of the Orb of Agamotto, due to the fact that he is near death (from being stabbed by Silver Dagger - as seen last post [HERE]).
To return to the waking world, and win his life, he has to fight against Death.
He, of course, would have to succumb to Death's embrace, and once accepting death as an inevitability - rose above it - and became (essentially) immortal.
In this way, combined with mystical pathways, Dr. Strange was then able to transcend death - and be reborn - resurrected!
Doctor Strange transcends death BY DYING...
Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4 Englehart and Brunner
That's not to say that Death wouldn't keep trying.
Another instance was in the pages of DOCTOR STRANGE: Master of the Mystic Arts #41
Story by Chris Claremont. Interior art by Gene Colan & Dan Green
Alas, Death is right... he/she/it can afford to lose countless battles. All it needs is one win.
The next time, and a much more intense battle, was seen in DOCTOR STRANGE: Sorcerer Supreme # 45.
Story by Roy Thomas. Art and cover by Geof Isherwood.
However, once Death found that Strange wasn't going to give in easily... he/she/it began to cheat.
Instead of engaging in an actual battle, Death used head games, having Doc relive all the points in his life where Death won and took a loved one, to try to make him give up hope.
Of course, that trick never works.
And thus the battle began anew.
We have no idea how many other times he may have had to face the reaper, as it is certain that there have been adventures either earlier in his career or during the long years since his last series ended, wherein the details have not been made known.
What also is not known is that perhaps, when OUR time comes, some of us may be able to beat death via some sort of mental/will-power battle of our own.
Sure, no one who comes out of a coma or beats death defying odds remembers waging such a battle, but certainly Death would erase that memory from their minds.
Death DOES have a reputation to maintain.
(If for no other purpose, than to incite ill and whiny bloggers into writing entries about him/her/it.)