Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Part III - The Shadows on the Wall

*Continued from Part II in this series: here*
* Part I in this series: here*


Have you ever entered a darkened room and the shadows that play upon the wall alter it's appearance? The room might seem larger - or smaller. Details become lost and your mind replaces features and surface textures that it imagines should be there.
That also occurs in the darkness outside of supposedly "haunted houses"; a loose shutter, a creaky screen-door, a dead, leafless tree casts shadowy tendrils across the eaves... reality is being played with. Mocked. What is - isn't. And what isn't certainly seems as if it might be.

Have you ever had a dream, from which you could not awaken? Or once you did so, pulling yourself free of the constricting clutches of coiled crabclaws-turned-covers... you are left wondering, while bathed in sweat... did it happen? Was it real?!?

It is there, in the shadowy nether-domains of illusion, unreality and altered perception that we stride with this entry.

So, stay ye close and follow me.


Last installment showed an instance wherein Baron Mordo was able to remove the Sanctum Sanctorum from the Earthly plane via a spell.

Today's lead-off scenario is similar - in that the Sanctum has been removed from the Earthly plane - or HAS IT?
The tale found within Marvel Premier # 3 (the 2nd intro to a new series for the good Doctor after his last series ended, he abandoned Sorcery in Hulk # 126 and his eventual RETURN in Marvel Feature # 1) shows Strange being besieged by demons within his mind and subconscious - or truly, on another plane of reality; the Dimension of Dreams.
It is to that fertile landscape that the Sanctum was transported by Nightmare - who was a servant of : "He who sleeps, but shall Awake!"...
(aka: my all-time favorite Doc-foe; Shuma Gorath)

As always - all pages in these entries can be *clicked* to be made readable.

Sequence from Marvel Premier # 3
(written by Stan Lee with art by Barry Windsor-Smith)

While that trip to a realm of unreality was a danger most dire for the Doctor, despite having been smashed a bit and having windows broken and whatnot, regarding the Sanctum itself, however, it was merely an illusion.
To that end, it doesn't count as any kind of destruction (or even temporary disruption) of the "real-world" edifice.


The very first issues of Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts shows that "through an orb darkly", in "a separate reality" and "amidst the madness", "where the bound'ries decay" the shadowy walls that exist betwixt and between the world of reality and the worlds of unreality are gossamer-thin at best.

The maniacal Silver Dagger knows that (now) there are substantial mystic wards placed over the Sanctum that would detect an attack from without and alert Doctor Strange to the presence of danger. But he knows that those selfsame wards would not be alarmed by activities from WITHIN!

He casts a minor spell that makes the spell by Clea upon a rabbit go awry, causing yet another WINDOW BREAKAGE!

Now, while THAT, in and of itself is hardly the destruction of one's home, the violent intrusion and stabbing to (near) death, and then the beating of one's servant, abduction of one's lover and taking of residence of the same "dead man's" home is the ultimate home invasion. The ultimate destruction of the sense of a home's security and... sanctity.

A journey to death and beyond in Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 1
Englehart, and Frank Brunner)

Strange would have to journey well into the realms that separate life and death, reality and unreality to overcome his situation.

And as Doc finds out in the realm of Agamotto - Reality or Unreality is pretty much the same thing; depending on your point of view.


Imagine then, that circa Doctor Strange # 12 and 13, your point of view is that of an ageless entity; ETERNITY, captured and placed in a sleep-state by Nightmare, and within your fevered dreams the END OF THE WORLD comes to pass.

For one such as Eternity, whose dreams are still the very fabric of our reality, the dreaming death of one world is nothing more than the loss of a single mote of dust that we may wipe away from our eyes after sleep.

However, the world was destroyed and it is only thru the intervention of Doctor Strange that a second, replacement Earth, complete in every detail, is set into the place of the doomed first.

So, that Sanctum Sanctorum was destroyed along with the rest of the world, but was reconstructed along with everything and everyone else by Eternity.

These scenes from Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 12 & 13.
(Story by Steve Englehart, art by Gene Colan)

However, this unreal situation becomes even more shadowy once it is later revealed (retconned) that this never happened, but was merely a test of the worthiness of Stephen Strange, by his aged and departed mentor, for his becoming "one with the universe".
An illusion. A shadow-play.

Ahhh.... you feel cheated.
Imagine what that feeling was like while reading the heady story only to have the literary rug pulled away in a "new writer, new direction" editorial edict.

Still, did it happen? Was it just a dream? A test? Who can truly say for sure.
All we do know is that for a moment, the Earth was no more, and no structure could hope to long withstand it.


What then of such a similar turn of events in the pages of Doctor Strange # 25, when tasked with foiling the machinations of the shadowy "CREATORS" (whose plotting and planning were the basis of the plot-twist-turn of the past destruction) caused the utter decimation of the "Cosmic Wheel of Change".
This caused the universe to be restructured in a haphazard manner, and the exploding of - and then immediate twisted reconstruction of - the world and the Sanctum Sanctorum.

A new world where animal versions of people roamed molten streets, men pulled cars like beasts of burden and buildings were constructed through the vision of fish-eyed lenses.

That was the world that Doctor Strange erroneously made manifest.
He unwittingly destroyed the world and it restructured itself as a funhouse mirror world.

Strange breaks the world and finds what new shape it has taken in:
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 25

(Jim Starlin (Script), Al Milgrom (Pencils), Pablo Marcos (Inks))

Later still, he would be able to rectify this mistake, and aright the cosmic wheel, setting all as it once was.
Strange spins the wheel of fortune.
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 28
(Roger Stern (Script), Tom Sutton (Pencils), Ernie Chan (Inks))

So, in THIS instance, an unreal event was indeed real and counts as a destruction, reassembly and then re-ordering of the Sanctum Sanctorum.


What then of a battle that takes place on another world in another dimension. Through the Black Mirror, as seen in Doctor Strange # 44.
A battle between Strange and a powerful rival mystic; Shadowqueen Shialmar!
Such a pitched battle that the effects of it appear in our own skies and mystic lightning strikes the home and Sanctum of Doctor Strange!
"The roof...the roof...the roof is on - FIRE..."
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 44
(Chris Claremont (Script), Gene Colan (Pencils), Dan Green (Inks))

Sara Wolfe witnesses the impossible. What would normally be the possible destruction of the Sanctum that was immediately nullified by the house (be they spells of protection or the house protecting itself)!


Some otherworldly forces, however, don't strike from without.
Some work their way into the deepest recesses and emerge from within!

Such was the situation that faced Strange as his Sanctum was breached by the demonic N'GARAI!

Bursting and bubbling forth from the Sa'arpool, which serves as dimensional doorway to their stygian domain, the N'Garai demon pours forth hellish tentacled death into the basement of the Sanctum and promptly causes untold havoc.

It is only by the power of a spell cast with the lucky placement of 5 individuals present that Strange is able to seal off the portal and end the invasion.*

Mankind can't imagine what lurks within the basement of the Sanctum!
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 44
(Chris Claremont (Script), Gene Colan (Pencils)).

Though not complete destruction of the Sanctum, it was a massive breach of it's borders, barriers, spells, wards and walls. It resulted in massive physical damage to the interior of the structure, if not it's facade.
This we'll consider a "maybe". There are times where to just pierce the mystical barriers of the Sanctum, can cause untold damage (and of course, a few where it doesn't. Every rule and all that...) .

* (The N'Garai eventually returned to reopen that portal, using the X-Man, Wolverine as their ensorcelled pawn. However, that portal was open and all activities happened on the other side of the aperture, as Strange and Logan battled against the demonic in Doctor Strange : Sorcerer Supreme # 41. So since nothing happened in the Sanctum - save for Wolverine attempting to kill the mystic, it doesn't factor into our exercise here.)


However, as we have seen through shadowy hallways, Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum is no mundane mansion. It has been known, as in the case of the fire, to take care of itself against intruders.

Shadows on the walls - the walls move like shadows!
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 44
Roger Stern (Script), Paul Smith (Pencils), Terry Austin (Inks)

In fact, it has been known to have it's walls, staircases and doorways move on their own accord!


And as we will see tomorrow, on at least two occasions... the Sanctum Sanctorum was transported to and besieged upon...
the very streets of Manhattan!

Series Continues - here in:


Holly said...

I love reading these! The last one was amazing, especially the "keep off my lawn" part...hahaha. If I had conjured money (hah), I would for sure build my own Sanctum Sanctorum with the window and everything...who wouldn't want to live there?!

Also, I'm SO making a Clea costume this year...I mean come on, it's awful and fabulous at the same time. It's like an inter-dimensional figure skating outfit of badassness.

~P~ said...

Thanks, Holly.

If you make a Clea costume, you have to post a pic.

Just so it's fair, next year's Halloween post will feature shots of me in my Doctor Strange costume.


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