Sunday, November 30, 2008

A look in the mirror before heading out:
- The Alternate Universes of the Sanctum

* Part VII in this series: here *
* Part VI in this series: here*
* Part V in this series: here*
* Part IV in this series: here*
* Part III in this series: here*
* Part II in this series: here*
* Part I in this series: here*

*Updated 06-27-09*
(see the last entry)
*Updated 01-06-12*
(announcing a new entry to the series
see the end of the post)
*Updated 08-04-12*
Given NEW "numbering" of
to avoid confusion
(too late)
(So... if you've come to THIS post FROM "PART VI", you need to quickly go to a new addendum before you read this.)

Housing Crisis : Sanctus Interruptus - Part VII- The Rebuilding [HERE]

Then come back here and continue.
Sorry for any confusion.

Before we take our leave of this review of the many rises and falls of the Sanctum Sanctorum, let us stride through the Chamber of Extrospection; an impossibly long hallway (surely, longer than the outside of the house would lead you to believe possible) illuminated by intermittently-spaced lighting sconces which emit jets of flame.

Between each flaming light are portals, heavily draped with plush green velvet curtains, bordered with rich wood framework, and replete with ornate carvings (runes? wards? Apotropaic magic?).

Pull up a chair to one of the portals, part the curtains and gaze into the mirror within.

What do you see?

No. Not yourself.
Look at the mirror and not what it shows.
See beyond the surface... gaze deeply into the pool.

Now... what do you see...?

Alternate realms of reality.
Scenes of "what might be".
Incidental happenstance.

Causal drops in a large cosmic ocean, ripples arching outward into waves of effect which then fade again into the surface of the waters of time and space.

Some experiences as real as your own heartbeat.
Others; a fever dream of a slumbering supreme being.
All, however, as lasting as your image, when you walk away from the mirror.
(A mirror here in the Chamber of Extrospection might remember your face, long after you have departed it's presence - a persistence of memory likened to that of what occurs when one reads a comic book story of a possible alternate reality. The incident is temporary, but still someone, somewhere remembers it... However, a normal, mundane mirror most likely does not have that rare quality, and you are quickly forgotten.)

It is within this realm of grand possibility and minor reality that we take our final tour with today's entry in the history of the many rises and falls of the Sanctum Sanctorum.

So, make sure you have everything before we go.
Got your keys? Bag? Phone? Good. Let's take a final look in the mirror before we head out the back door.


This past week we have seen nearly every incident of major destruction of the Sanctum Sanctorum, ignoring or omitting most of the minor occurrences and most that were only "interior" damage - caused, most likely by battles being waged within it's very walls (let's face it; The Hulk and Sub-Mariner trashed the place practically every time they gathered there for DEFENDERS meetings).

However, there have been interior battles and invasions that have transpired. While we can't possibly look at even a fraction of them, I did pull out a few: one at random and one specifically.


The specific incident was a time when ZOM came very close to returning to Earth.
While he was an all-powerful, malefic entity in his original form, after re-trapped within his confining amphora, Zom was more an essence than a physical being. (It was this essence that Dr. Strange ingested during the World War Hulk incident - as seen at the end of my last post: *here*).

However, in this situation, in Doctor Strange : Sorcerer Supreme # 20, the amphora was accidentally broken, and the essence of Zom escaped.
Growing by ingesting and absorbing the mystical energies within the Sanctum, this "Zom-ling" ran rampant throughout the Sanctum, causing destruction and mayhem at every corner.

He was only defeated in the nick of time, by... a vacuum cleaner.

It seems, that he absorbed as much dust and such as he did magical energy, and so his body was comprised of quite a lot of dust and debris that was susceptible to the vacuum's pull.

Vacuum made by Watoom : the "Vacoomb"
Doctor Strange : Sorcerer Supreme # 20
Roy & Dann Thomas (story) / Butch Guice (art)

(Good thing he didn't attack MY "sanctum". With all the dust-bunnies in MY place, Zom would be the size of Detroit)


The other (randomly chosen) incident was in the pages of Crystar # 3.
Warring brothers and their factions (one brother made of living crystal, the other, out of living magma) cross the dimensional divide between their world and ours, via mystical means, to materialize within the Sanctum.
What happens next is obvious; men made out of magma burn everything they touch. A fight ensues, resulting in more damage. Doc waves his hands. Everything is fixed.

Actually, while the issue has several pages of panel-by-panel continuity showing these events, nothing inside is better than the issue's cover, by Michael Golden.

So, I'm just showing that.

The Saga of Crystar : Crystal Warrior # 3
Just LOOK at that awesome cover by Michael Golden.
No need to see anything else.


Also, worth mentioning, but impossible to explore in depth are the many times that the sigil-window was smashed, crashed into, breaching the mystical seals that keep invaders at bay.

I'll point out two such instances;

Infinity Gauntlet # 1 saw the Silver Surfer, who had been racing to warn the Earth of the threat of Thanos, smashed through the window and landed in a heap within the Sanctum, meditation chamber.

Stephen Strange asks why Norrin has yet to learn how to use a door!
Infinity Gauntlet # 1
Jim Starlin (story) / George Perez (art)

However, just so show that Strange can compensate for damage to the Sanctum, even after the sigil-window has been removed, the next issue, in Infinity Gantlet 2, saw the entirety of the Earth suffer an "earthquake", and only via Strange's quickly cast protection spell was the Sanctum the only structure that was spared.

"There goes the neighborhood... literally!"
Infinity Gauntlet # 1
Jim Starlin (story) / George Perez (art)

One other, more drastic incident was within Uncanny X-Men Annual # 7.
The Impossible Man ran rampant throughout Earth looking for items for some intergalactic "Scavenger Hunt".
One item on the list? Just the Sanctum's window. Not much.

It's like dropping a mystical Mentos in a cauldron of Cola! FWOOSH!
Uncanny X-Men Annual # 7
Chris Claremont (story) / Michael Golden (pencils) / Terry Austin (inks)

Mystic wards disrupted, magic explodes from the house. As impossible as it seems, Strange can be caught completely off-guard by attacks of such randomness.


There occurred, a more recent instance of such an attack.
A carefully planned and precisely executed surprise attack is exactly what disabled Doctor Strange, in Fantastic Four # 498, when Doctor Doom sought to remove him as a threat to his own mystical attack upon the Fantastic Four.

"I'm sorry, but my brain can't come to the phone right now..."
Fantastic Four # 498
Mark Waid (story) / Mike Wieringo (art)

Devilish imps maintain control over a mesmerized Sorcerer Supreme, all the while wreaking more havoc upon his already battle-ravaged Sanctum.

Later, further destruction was made manifest during the follow-up battle between Doom and the Four.

Afterwards, it is safely assumed that Strange simply cast a spell that repaired his ransacked home.

Still, that incident really "occurred", and as such counts as a destruction / restoration incident. However, it didn't happen within the pages of Doc's own title, which is why it was left off of the master list.


What selections we'll visit now are the stuff of "what if?" (but NOT from actual issues of the comic titled; "What If?" Seriously, that way leads to madness)...

The first instance DID occur within the pages of Doctor Strange's own comic - the truly EPIC Master of the Mystic Arts # 55!

A mirror to the classic film; "It's A Wonderful Life", Strange is shown what life would be like if he had never learned the ways of magic.

In the instance of the Sanctum Sanctorum, it's either the artist's studio where his comic is produced or simply a set in the dream-sequence of his warped and twisted imagination.

At least this "Clarence" can drive.
"TED TEVOSKI" & "LES TANE", heh heh

"Doc Keem" ahh.....

Zhu Zhu's petals!
Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 55
Roger Stern (story) / Michael Golden (pencils) / Terry Austin (inks)

Still, it was all a shadow-play by the fear-lord; D'Spayre. It happened... and didn''t happen all at the same time.
(Illusions are funny that way.)

While this issue's event might seemingly have been one for the "Part III - Shadows on the Wall" post, however, since the Sanctum wasn't destroyed, per se - just re-purposed and then dismantled as a theatre backdrop, it doesn't quite count, and falls within the purview of this post.


A similar piece of "what if-ery" were the events of Ms. Marvel v2 # 5.
TIme&space-displaced madman-turned-mystic; Warren Traveler played a game of cat-and-mouse with the titular heroine in and out of the time-stream.

Having been a prisoner within the Sanctum, Traveler gained possession of the Wand of Watoomb, which greatly increased his abilities. So much so, that he was able to successfully threaten Doctor Strange, and then... blow up the Sanctum!

Being transported to yet another reality, one where everyone on Earth is killed by a marauding swarm of flesh-eating alien insects, Ms. Marvel & Traveler continue their struggle.

Only by a time-jump by the two was Ms. Marvel able to aid Strange to rebuke the initial attack - retroactively - effecting either a temporal anomaly - or - a new alternate reality... thusly saving the Sanctum from further destruction.

I did say "further" destruction. Who knows how bad it would have become if she was not brought back to that slightly earlier point in time?

Strange has another wand in his pants.
Entire sequence from
: Ms Marvel v2 # 5
Brian Reed (story) / Roberto De La Torre (art)

(Also effected were "spacial relations" between the two heroes.)

There HAVE been other situations where a "possible future" has shown the Sanctum to be a smoldering ruin or abandoned derelict.

The Guardians of the Galaxy title from the 1990's had a disciple (Talon) learning from the Sorcerer Supreme (the batwing-headed, worm-like alien; Krugarr) within the gutted walls.

"Strange 2099" inherits a ramshackle and ivy-overgrown and flood-water-logged Sanctum Sanctorum as well.

But frankly, those are even too far out for ME to include here.
Maybe one or two other readers even remember those characters...

To that end, I'm sure I could add the "Days of Future Past" timeline as well.

You see, the possible "post-apocalyptic" futures in the Marvel "history" are legion.


The ultimate "dream" storyline saw the merging of the Marvel universe with that of DC. The Amalgam Universe - and comics line - saw several "amalgamations" of both universe's characters.

Doctor Strangefate being the most powerful entity to emerge from that joining, created his own dark and powerful version of the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Everything about this is awesome.
Doctor StrangeFate # 1
Ron Marz (story) / José Luis Garcia-Lopez (pencils) / Kevin Nowlan (inks)

Later, however, when that merged universe was threatening to return via the hidden movings of Strangefate's machinations, a battle came to a head within the walls of the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Batman had burst through the ornate window, and soon thereafter was joined by other combatants, from both realities; Marvel and DC alike: The X-MEN and JLA!

Doc throws a wicked kegger. The jocks get out of hand.
DC / Marvel : All-Access # 4
Ron Marz (writer) / Jackson "Butch" Guice (pencils) / Joe Rubinstein (inks)

The Sanctum suffered some structural damage from the altercation, until Strangefate emerged to take a more personal hand in the outcome.

Enter : StrangeFate! Exit : reality!
DC / Marvel : All-Access # 4
Ron Marz (writer) / Jackson "Butch" Guice (pencils) / Joe Rubinstein (inks)

Doing so, he immediately restructured the Sanctum into his own dark tower once more.

"Oh. No. You. Didn't."
DC / Marvel : All-Access # 4
Ron Marz (writer) / Jackson "Butch" Guice (pencils) / Joe Rubinstein (inks)

This, of course, did not go over well with Doctor Strange, who reversed the spell and preserved the Amalgam Universe as it's own separate, but equal reality.

And our universe is on a dust-mote on a giant's eyelash.
DC / Marvel : All-Access # 4
Ron Marz (writer) / Jackson "Butch" Guice (pencils) / Joe Rubinstein (inks)

However, just when you thought I couldn't get more random with this exercise (especially after that "Zom-ling" selection), I will prove that I can.


Not a dream, not an imaginary tale... oh wait. It's TOTALLY an imaginary tale...
Stan Lee Meets Doctor Strange. A "one-shot" issue wherein Stan "the Man" tells new (wacky) takes on his favorite classic characters (Spider-Man, the Thing, SIlver Surfer, Dr. Doom - and - Doctor Strange).

Stan pays a visit to his old friend Stephen Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum and it isn't quite the way he remembers it (although, I for one would love to get in there just for a few moments).

No. I'm sorry.
Between the awesome artwork and the theoretical possibility that such a store might exist...
I can't make any comments here.

Stan Lee Meets : Doctor Strange # 1
Stan Lee (writer) / Alan Davis (art)

While there, Stephen tells Stan a tale of his recent financial woes, and the times that the Sanctum Sanctorum is destroyed.

Alan Davis...

...NEEDS to draw...

...NEEDS to draw...

...Dr. Strange!

Sorry. Drooling over the art. Wong, please mop that up, while you're at it.
Stan Lee Meets : Doctor Strange # 1
Stan Lee (writer) / Alan Davis (art)

However, Strange and Wong do whatever they can to keep the Sanctum in top running order. Lest Stephen lose his security deposit



This next and thus-far last (for now, but probably not "the" last) instance of Sanctum's destruction took place in the
Marvel "Ultimate Universe".
For those unfamiliar with the Ultimate M.U., it is/was/will be Marvel's offshoot universe which was to be the alternative comics' line for those who didn't want to get bogged down with the mainstream ("616" as it is known in geek culture) Marvel universe's 40+ years of continuity.
(This seems to have been mostly unsuccessful in it's initial goal since in a mere 9 years, they bogged themselves down plenty, or else they wouldn't be hitting the reboot-button already.)

Anyway, this situation takes place, specifically, at the seeming END of the Ultimate Universe (or at least the point where the "reboot" is to happen)... given the catchy name of "ULTIMATUM", which ran through all of the individual titles as well as a special mini-series.
In this cataclysmic "end of days" storyline, Magneto; the mutant master of magnetism, is out to destroy all mankind because his children; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were killed (at the stinking paws of damned, dirty humans - a plan set in motion by Dr. Doom to be precise).

To this extent, he altered the magnetic fields of the planet and caused tidal waves that destroyed American cities, ice ages to befall parts of Europe and other disastrous after-effects.

In the midst of the carnage, in New York City, superheroes were all trying to save as many people as they could.
However, they couldn't save everyone or account for everything.

In fact, several super heroes were among the death toll (can't make a New Universe Omelet without breaking a few heads, right?).
In the midst of the receding waters that, at their height, had covered many tall buildings, the "flotsam and jetsam" of such a 'watershed' included such things as NYC TAXI CABS.

Ultimate Spider-Man # 131
Brian Bendis (words), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)

A cab lodged in the sigil window of the Sanctum Sanctorum is all that is needed to disrupt the major protective spells that kept the magic from escaping into the world around it.

"Who ya gonna call?"

However, this wasn't the end of the destruction.
Far from it.

For inside the Sanctum was a mystic orb that acted as dimensional barrier to the Dark Dimension. But nothing short of an "act of God" could disrupt the protective spells that protected it.
Or so the young Stephen Strange Jr. (son of the former Sorcerer Supreme) thought, as he once told Spider-Man in confidence.

This is what is known as "Tempting fate".

However, as these things tend to happen... never say never.

The usual Greenwich Village nightlife.

For after this first explosion, the body of Stephen Strange, possessed by the demonic entity NIGHTMARE, caused the Spider-Man and the Hulk to battle visions that dwelt within their psyches... visions taken form.
One such phantasm led the Hulk into the breached Sanctum and caused him to smash open the dimensional orb.

This isn't good.
It's like that episode of Bugs Bunny where the gremlin is testing warheads with a hammer.

The ensuing explosion totaled the neighborhood and resembled an atomic detonation.


It also let free DORMAMMU, Lord of the Dark Dimension, who in short order KILLED the young Doctor Strange.

But that is a subject of it's own entry [HERE].


This wraps up the intensive, exhaustive (and frankly, intensely exhausting) look through the varied examples, throughout published comic history, of the multiple rises and falls of the Sanctum Sanctorum.

I hope you found it to be entertaining and informative.
Please make sure the door is locked on your way out.

But feel free to stop by again - soon.


*UPDATE 01-06-2012*
Don't miss the NEWEST additions to this exciting and informative series:
Housing Crisis : Sanctus Interruptus - Part VII- The Rebuilding [HERE]

Then, feel free to join me in wrapping this series up - HERE - in:
Housing Crisis : Sanctus Interruptus -
* Addendum *


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