Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Part II - Welcome to the Neighborhood:
Strange (Tales) Days Indeed

*Part I in this series: here*


Welcome, and enter freely the Sanctum Sanctorum!

No need to wipe your feet before you come in, since we'll be going over the many times the building has been destroyed over the years.

Wong won't care about footprints so much as the I-beams and broken glass falling all around.

For those of you coming in late, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, this is to be a series showcasing the MANY times over the history of the building that the Sanctum Sanctorum (in it's many forms) has been destroyed, raised back up and destroyed again (time after time after time).

"Surely"; you're now thinking, "I can't recall the Sanctum being decimated more than once before. Isn't this new situation with the "Starbucks" one of the first such times this has happened?".
Well, friends, it might be hard to recall, but my facts show that the Sanctum (in any number of it's forms) has been demolished
well over 9 TIMES !
That doesn't include multiple trashings, infiltrations, sigil-window breakage or varied stymied attempts at it's destruction. However, it DOES take into account at least TWO (of the many) times that the Earth was wiped out - "in toto" - only to be reconstructed as it was.

(Now, it might even have been destroyed MORE times than that, but I'm just going by Doc's own series'. If it happened in a different series, like the DEFENDERS or something, I'm not including it here.)

Of course, we will also go over a few of those aforementioned near-ruinations from his series', just for flavor and context.

Let's begin at the beginning, shall we?


This is a fairly well-known sequence that shows the origins of the building itself.
When purchasing the building, Strange finds that it has a sordid history, including being built on an Native "American" Indian ritual and burial site, and that any structure that is erected on this spot is razed; usually by fire.

ALL images in this post can be *clicked* to be enlarged.

Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts # 56.
Story by Roger Stern, Art by Paul Smith and Terry Austin

While not actually from issues of Strange Tales (vol 1),
this sequence takes place in that series' time-frame in continuity.
(Uh oh. The "C"-word.)

In a direct follow-up to the sequence of events shown in that issue, Roger Stern teamed with artists Neil Vokes & Jay Geldof to portray Doc's actual purchase of the house and his first night spent therein.
The issue of which I speak being a one-shot special: DOCTOR STRANGE: From The Vault # 1.
In it, it is explained that the site has had 6 previous edifices built and that this is the 7th (a magic number).

Roger Stern (writer), Neil Vokes (pencils), Jay Geldof (inks)


Still, it's the perfect spot to perform his mojo and the Sanctum Sanctorum is built.


The first time that the Sanctum is shown to be in peril is in Strange Tales # 117.
Mordo creates a replica (voodoo fetish) of the Sanctum Sanctorum and casts a sympathetic spell upon it. He then sets the spell into the world where it affects and merges with the real Sanctum. The spell is as such wherein once Doctor Strange has stepped within the domicile, it will vanish from this world. Forever.

Strange is able to travel along dimensional corridors back to Earth where he tricks his foe and overpowers him, thusly releasing the spell upon the Sanctum.

Pages from Strange Tales (vol 1) # 117.
Stan Lee (script) / Steve Ditko (plot and artwork)

While not damaged, the Sanctum was removed from this realm and as such is a borderline case of "destruction", and as such, not counted as "official" for the purposes of this blog.
Still... it's darn close.


When next we see the Sanctum threatened is in Strange Tales # 141 & 142, where Mordo's minions - led by Demonicus "The Demon" - have placed a mundane explosive device inside one of the braziers and plan to detonate it while Strange is in his chambers.

Sequence from Strange Tales vol 1 - # 141 - 142.
A Stan Lee / Steve Ditko joint.

This incident is important for a few reasons. While Dr. Strange DID indeed discover the incendiary device before it went off, it did show two very important things:

1) At this time, Strange had not yet cast any special wards to keep unwanted intruders out of the Sanctum. In fact, in those early Strange Tales issues, the Sanctum was invaded quite a few times, by mystics and robbers alike. Future break-ins would more than likely cause major house damage.

2) In his haste to dispose of the bomb (at least no nuns or ducks barred his way) Strange breaks through his sigil-window. The first such instance of that transpiring (and by far not the last).

However, the Sanctum was NOT destroyed and as such, doesn't count in this blog series.


This NEXT situation DOES!
Strange Tales # 149 saw a pitched war between the forces of light (Doc & the Ancient One) and those of darkness (Kaluu - the Ancient One's own past menace) and while Strange and his Master are hiding out and attempting to find a way to defeat him, Kaluu unleashes a spell that decimated the Sanctum, totally trashing it (if not without - although it sure looks like he caused some structural damage - , then most definitely WITHIN).

To take care of this wreckage, Doctor Strange needs no earthly workmen!

Sequence from Strange Tales (vol 1) # 149 & 151.
Written by Dennis O'Neil. Art by Bill Everett.

A wave of the hand and voila! Instant "Home Makeover" and as a bonus, he conjures forth all the cash he might need to pay off nosy house inspectors.
(One of the early missteps in the characterization of the Master Mystic. It was an early trope that ALL Marvel characters had to have money troubles or something. This wasn't the first time finances was brought up, however, it was nearly the last time for well over 20 years.)


Don't think that the Sanctum was safe for long.
FOUR issues later, we see the invasion of the Earth by UMAR the Unrelenting (Sister to Dormammu & Mother of Clea), who cast a devastating blast against the Sanctum, completely leveling it!

Not to let that be the end of it, she also blasts a path straight through the PLANET to get to Strange's mentor!

(Wow. Now THAT is overkill. What a bitch.)

It takes another 3 issues before Strange has time to return home, but all he finds is a sanctum-sized crater.

Luckily, this time he's able to fix the situation (without Bob Vila anywhere in sight) by reversing her spell, upon which she neglected to put her finishing seal.

Entire sequence of events from Strange Tales (vol 1) # 156 & 159.
Story by Roy Thomas. Art by Marie Severin.

Quickly flying inside, he checks on the status of the Earth's peril via the Orb of Agamotto (although, back then, it was more of a mystic globe and less of a crystal ball).


However, we'll find out tomorrow, that he might have more IMMEDIATE concerns.

Chief among them being, as the Orb will show...
that all might not be what it seems... and home safety - just is not a reality!


Series Continues - here in:
- Part III - The Shadows on the Wall


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