Thursday, February 12, 2009

The "Magic" of Video - Part II :
Dr. Strange in Animation - entry 1:
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends;
7 Little Super-Heroes - and more.

Another SANCTUM SANCTORUM VIDZ Presentation.

If you recall, in THIS post, we were talking about how truly criminal is Marvel's treatment of Dr. Strange in other media (not that he fares much better in their handling of him in PRINT oftentimes).

Unlike DC/Warner, who lavish truly mystical flourishes upon their Dr. Fate and his special niche in their mythos, while in animated ventures, Marvel can't seem to afford Dr. Strange the proper, sorcerous treatment, or even an approximation of his unique world(s) befitting his true, published, stature.

This started as far back as his 01978 TV movie (as showcased previously on this blog: the FILM, the SWAG, the ACTION FIGURE, the REVIEW).
An inaccurate and watered-down rendition of a character with an otherwise exciting and vivid potential.

Marvel's lackluster representations of Strange in other media then continued into the realm of animation. While he never had a starring role, he had guest-starred in several cartoons, the first of which was the series;

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

Strange appeared in one episode, quite possibly the most favored episode of the series:

  • "7 Little Super-Heroes" - episode # 06 of the series.

and his costume appeared in two others:

  • "The Triumph of the Green Goblin " - episode # 01 of the series.
  • "Spider-Man Unmasked" - episode # 17 of the series.

(both of which I'll showcase at the end of this post, after the main entry).

But, first, we'll discuss, and view "7 Little Super-Heroes".

Title card for the 01981 episode.

Before I get too far along, allow me the indulgence of showcasing some collector's pieces pertaining to this animated episode... the first, and primary one being the animation character model sheet, original production cel of DOCTOR STRANGE featured last post - HERE.
(But I'll paste the pic and some basic info of it here as well - for completeness sake - just make sure to go back to the original post for even more detail.)

This is an extremely rare, authentic production cel for the episode.
Not just any production cell, but a even rarer "model sheet cel"... of DOCTOR STRANGE!

It's a bit hard to read, but it states:
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
Series # 6000
"7 Little Superheroes"
Prod. # 6006
Model sheet # 0
"Doctor Strange"
(c) 1981 Marvel Productions LTD
 (Don't forget to go back later to check out more info on this cel at its original post - HERE.)

Another piece of swag for the episode is this, the actual VHS tape featuring the episode.

Goldstar Video's official VHS release of 7 Little Super Heroes.

Back of packaging with write-up.

Thanks. Now that I have that taken care of, we can go back to the review and watching the episode(s).

This episode takes a riff from the classic nursery rhyme; "10 Little Indians" (which was the inspiration for a mystery story, and then was, in turn, adapted into several films; "And Then There Were None", "10 Little Indians", as well as the hilarious spoof "Murder by Death"), wherein a group of individuals fall victim to various accidents, (or in the case of the film and animated versions; guests are slowly and methodically eliminated by a mastermind with a grudge,) until, ostensibly, only ONE remains.

This episode followed the events of the villainous CHAMELEON who invites the heroes to the mysterious "Wolfe Island Mansion" for a social gathering for super-beings.
(There's a Wolfe Island in Ontario, Canada and while only accessible by ferry - or helicopter- or the power of flight, as a superhero might possess, is indeed reachable by ferry from Cape Vincent, New York. Most likely, this is the location.)

Spider-Man, Iceman, Firestar, Sub-Mariner, Doctor Strange, Captain America & Shanna; the Jungle Queen are all unknowing "guests" of the Chameleon!
None are aware of the others' invitations until they are all gathered within the walls of the castle.

Wolfe Island Mansion

Several liberties are taken for the story.
The major one being; these heroes have all been targeted since they, purportedly, have all dealt defeats to the Chameleon.
For the life of me, I can't imagine Shanna "the Jungle Queen" having any reason to interact with the Chameleon, much less Doctor Strange. Although, if pressed, I could imagine a story-point where Strange may have been able to thwart the villain's illusions - except... Strange has never had any altercations with him, and judging from the events of this episode, Strange doesn't seem to be able to do even that.

Sadly, in this story, the "Spider-Friends" are the real action heroes, while the other characters are just there to point and say "Hey, Look!"... or worse; stand around, slack-jawed, waiting to be taken out like chumps.

While it's always exciting to see Strange in this famous episode, Doc says little... and does even LESS!

After paying the hair-stylist to care for those sideburns,
there was no more money left to pay Strange for a large speaking role.

In the course of the episode you'll THRILL to the sight of:

Doc chillaxin' and kickin' it - old school!
This chair is the Venerated Vibro-lounger of the Vishanti!

Strange and the others caught by a hackneyed ruse!
"Oh, there, voice come from cow on wall..."
Moose, moose you imbecile!"

"Mr. Lionel Twain, I presume."

Strange protecting Ms. Lion - the Lhasa Apso dog!
Dogs usually run AWAY from Doctors. Or is it JUST Veterinarians?

Doc standing around uselessly!
Well... in his defense, they're ALL standing around uselessly.

Doc getting a headache!
A... Aquaman? Is that YOU? I told you never to call me here.

Doc flying and pointing - at the same time!
invizible uru-hammrz! i haz one!

Doc doing the batusi!
The Shadow tested, Batman approved!

Strange not fighting a robotic-demonic robot/demon!
No joke here. This thing IS pretty cool.

Doc held prisoner in a dog kennel!
Walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage...
oh wait... they totally do.

...and much MORE (or less)!

OK... preview over.
Watch the episode via these three segments (sadly... my video editing software is still f.u.b.a.r. and as such, I'm recycling older clips - edited - poorly - by others).

We'll meet again and discuss after the episode.



Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blogThe Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog

and Sanctum Sanctorum Vidzpresents a Sanctum Sanctorum Vidz presentation

- of -

"7 Little Super-Heroes".


part - 1

part - 2

part - 3


Doc was exceedingly useless, was he not?

Remember the part early on, when the Chameleon gave that little roll-call while they were in the Mansion, and everyone is shown when he announces their name - except Dr. Strange?
When Doc is addressed, the director thought that a crotch-shot of Iceman was a better use of the time.
That exemplifies the overall gist of Dr. Strange's treatment in the episode;
Somewhere below Iceman's snowballs in priority.

The total extent of his "occult powers" was to receive a "psychic message" from Shanna, block a robotic-demon's zap with his cloak, use the Eye of Agamotto to make prison bars vanish and cast a spell to help Shanna fly off the doomed castle.

He couldn't even defend himself from a robot demon (or even TELL that it WASN'T the real thing!).
And, just between you and me, while it was VERY cool for the robot to be a take-off of the Dark Dimension's "G'Uranthic Guardian"... how the hell would the Chameleon know what THAT looked like?

The ONLY thing that this cartoon (like the others in the Spider-Man & his Amazing Friends series) got right is Dr. Strange's costume. They barely altered a thing.

And so, this appearance gets a rating of:
2.5 out of 5 G'uranthic Guardian robots.

/x X X

Now, remember that Strange (or at least his COSTUME) appeared in two other episodes as well.

A minor honor indeed, Strange's costume is shown, being worn by a party-goer at a Comic-book themed costume ball, in the FIRST episode of the series:

"The Triumph of the Green Goblin"

"Strange" is seen dancing in the back left corner of the doorway - with a woman dressed as... Princess Python perhaps?

Disco... Dis-co Doc!

That's pretty much the entirety of the appearance. You can watch the entire episode if you wish, but if you're just looking for Strange's costume in action, the above pic is pretty much all you need.

But, here ya go. As a detail-oriented collector-monkey, I'll include the episode as well.

part 1
Strange gets down and boogies at the 6:30 mark.

part 2


AND... if you're wondering just WHERE the guy obtained his costume... chances are it was from the same establishment shown in episode 17 of the series:

"Spider-Man : Unmasked"

"Stan's Costume Shop", as seen here specializes in super-hero costumes.

"Stan's Costume Shop" would totally be my personal haberdasher.

Strange's sorcerer's garb is shown along the back wall, worn by a mannequin.

This must be the "urban legends" section,
since the existence of all those figures is shrouded in mystery.
Especially "Dazzler". No way is she real.

That's all the Dr. Strange that you get for the episode. However, I'll present the entire episode for those who wish to view it.

Part 1

Part 2
Stan's Costume Shop comes in at 00:10. Strange's garb appears at 00:20.


And there you have it; Doctor Strange's first foray into animation with appearances in the "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" cartoon series.

As I pontificated in a previous entry (HERE) Strange's appearance in his animated excursions are... meh. Not great. Barely a Sorcerer of any strength or ability.
And what's worse, is that his world; the world of magicks and dimensional whatnot, has barely been shown. When it has, it's been a watered-down version, at best.

These first steps into the Saturday morning world have nothing to stand out as spectacular or noteworthy. No real mysticism is shown, no otherworldly realms are visited. No love for the character is shown.

For a Dr. Strange fan, the only thing going for these are... well... Dr. Strange is at least FEATURED in a cartoon that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of kids (and their families) have seen.

That's some magic in and of itself.


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