Monday, February 23, 2009


Lo! It shall come to pass...

Click to make Supreme Sized.
Official Marvel House-Ad for the event.

While I pontificated about this subject several months ago (HERE), Marvel's own Tom Brevoort and Brian Michael Bendis finally put forth some official "odds" of their own about who shall be the next Sorcerer Supreme in an article from Comic Book Resources.

I know that comics are cyclical in nature, and that nothing is forever, but still... this entire enterprise fills me with a sense of dread foreboding.

It's not due to the concept of the storyline. Dr. Strange losing the power and/or title of Sorcerer Supreme is hardly ANYTHING new (it's been done at least 6 times before, that I can name off the top of my head) nor is the lead-up prelude of Strange using Dark powers and having to atone for them (that's been at least done 2 or 3 before that I can think of).

Frankly, I'm all FOR a shake up of the status quo every once in a while.
Those aforementioned instances of power-downs, title losses and dark magic were among the very best tales of the good Doctor.

Sadly, the reason for my trepidation lands squarely on the shoulders of the architect of this particular story-line; Brian Michael Bendis.

Bendis has some good ideas at times, but his execution of those ideas is almost NEVER any good.

It's not that he's a bad writer. Truthfully, I will readily admit to LIKING his stuff.
Most of the time, anyway.

Except for his dialogue. Everyone speaks with the same "voice" and hardly EVER are they accurate to what has been accepted as "the norm" for that character.

My main problem isn't even Bendis' horrid treatment and handling of Dr. Strange to date.
There have been a few instances of actual "great potential" in the overall "setting" of Bendis' Stephen Strange. The background workings of the Sanctum Sanctorum in the New Avengers title were sublime.

Although...NOTHING can redeem Bendis' handling of Strange in "The Illuminati", "House of M" or "Avengers Disassembled" - those were abso-fucking-lutely horrid.

Truthfully, it all falls within the parameters of Bendis failing to follow through in any cohesive manner with his grand concepts. All of his epics have fallen flat upon delivery;
"House of M", "Secret War", "Avengers Disassembled", "Illuminati", "Secret Invasion"...
All of them; fantastic concepts. All of them - missing key plot points (or - an ending).

Perhaps, they should all be seen as one sweeping story. One that has yet to end.
Perhaps, they need to be reviewed and critiqued when they are "all" completed (whenever the hell he decides these events will come to a close).

So. Then. The next installment of the Bendis epic-event-a-tron is to recast the life of Doctor Strange and role of the Sorcerer Supreme. It might be good. Or it might suck.

The only silver lining (to no matter WHAT occurs) is that it can be undone (if need be) or I'll be able to finally give up this insane hobby (if Doctor Strange is removed "completely").

Unless the MAN-THING becomes the Sorcerer Supreme... then I'm GOLDEN!


~P~ said...

I'm getting reports of comment cock-block.

~P~ said...


THIS comment came to me (via email - because the comment feature here was acting all wonky), by PLOK (of "A Trout in the Milk" blog).

These are HIS thoughts (and they ARE awesome).
Given his permission, I am posting them HERE for all to read, absorb and enjoy.

Feel free to comment upon them as you will.
I know I will be.

---------How does PLOK Grok DOC--------

Hey it is, in response to the Scab Supreme post. By the way, I really REALLY appreciate you posting the '78 Doc movie, because...well, *you* know!

It had things to recommend it!

For the time, that constituted a minor miracle in itself!

Haven't watched it yet -- saving up time. But just knowing that it's's like knowing the box of ice-cream bars is in the fridge, just waiting...

Anyway, without further ado, my somewhat-stewed thoughts from yesterday, very slightly edited:


"An interesting little pickle. Of course for my money, given these applicants (and for the most part I find them a very dull list), the only one that excites me is Jennifer Kale.

Well, Mordo would be great to have, too...but...

I think there are a couple of things in play, here. I don't even think Bendis' ideas are good, especially not his ideas about Doc, but it's because of those bad ideas (I figure) that something like this could be useful at the present moment: determining who gets to be Sorceror Supreme at this point is sort of a bit like having a referendum on what "magic" is supposed to be all about at Marvel Comics! And not before time. Now, not that I know how they're going to make this determination -- I hope they can find it in themselves to leave the Aged Genghis alone for it, I love the AG but that's exactly why I don't like to see him tossed around from writer to writer like a sack of oats. Is Kaluu still around, P-Tor? Now, unlike Mordo, I could live with his election to the big chair, as the last I read of him he'd been dragged through a life-changing Doc, of course!...but that was very long ago now, and anyway Kaluu would certainly be entitled to play elder statesman of magic, in the AG's and Ancient One's absence. Not that I think he'd be a bad choice! But...

Slight digression, 'cause I'm just bashing this out: another thing in play, besides the referendum on what magic is to be like, is...well, hell, can we get a good story out of this? Making this business a good story would be really welcome. If it were to be Kaluu (and I don't think it should be), there could be a good story in that...not that it's impossible to imagine a good story proceeding from Doom or Wanda or Clea, but I think Clea's not really in the running, Wanda's encumbered with a whole bunch of shit that doesn't make sense and it would take a very deft hand to get possibilities out of that that didn't SUCK, and Doom...well jeez, I like Doom as much as the next guy, but a) I don't think he ought to be in it either, and b) I think the maximum possibility there lies in him realizing being SS has to change his priorities. And: that's too much right there, I think. Doom's the one villain who needs to *stay* a villain -- he's not really allowed to progress as a character in important ways, because he's too perfect just as he is. He's DOOM!

Mordo would be a good story, had something happened to him that caused him to be more an antihero than a villain. Everything you could get from Doom you could also get from Mordo...this is going to be another dog-choking comment, I'm afraid...with the added bonus of Mordo being Mordo...but again, is he there? Has any groundwork for such a story been laid? Harvey Jerkwater had a wonderful fan-fic idea about Mordo spending another couple of subjective eternities in the Dimension of Raggadorr or something, returning to take up the mantle of SS because he'd gained wisdom and perspective...but he's still a bastard, and he still hates Strange, but Strange is now in the position (due to his pure heart an' all) of being Mordo's flunky. WHAT A GREAT IDEA! Harvey is full of interesting thoughts about Doc, like...oh, but I forget, you know this stuff, P! But anyway, yeah, Mordo...or Kaluu...these are good stories for Doc, and his supporting cast. But I'm not sure they could be executed well. Man, wouldn't mind seeing Sara again, as Mordo's kinda/sorta Clea! How neat would that be? Englehart would do it, I betcha...

But (digression continuing), if it can't be like that, then I don't think I want it. So my little fan-fic idea I will propose here in a minute finds another use for Mordo...and as for Kaluu, it would be interesting if he were acting in the non-partisan role the AG usually fulfilled...and here's a nifty Trinity for you: Kaluu (bad), Ancient One (good), and the AG (who even remembers?)...but all responsive to the needs of Magic Itself, their highest calling...

But whatever with that, for now. Jennifer Kale makes a damn good story, she's got a fully-fleshed supporting cast of her own, a history of her own, and an "Ancient One" of her comparison, what has Illyana Rasputin got, that could promise a good story? And no, I don't think she should be on the shortlist either. Nor Wiccan, nor The Hood, nor any Szardoses...oh, for a new character! One who isn't lame! But we won't get that, we'll only get retreads of characters that were never very interesting in the first place. Or good one, like Doom...but there isn't a story there, that I want to read...

Well, okay...there's one...

But more on that later, for now the DIGRESSION ENDS. But having made the point, I trust: either the new SS creates new stories for Doc, or creates new stories for him- or herself. Otherwise, why do it at all? The reason for doing it is that I *want* good stories! I want this whole big mess that Marvel is now to move forward...

...And back to the main point, that being: what's magic going to be? A mere instrumentality? A metaphor? Science by another name? I don't like explicit taxonomies of Marvel Magic -- Ditko didn't need 'em -- but if we're going to have a knock-down drag-out of any kind at all, maybe a little taxonomical back-to-basics would be useful. Or "retcon", by any other name...

Like: Doc was once "Master of Black Magic", before he graduated to "Master of the Mystic Arts". I dislike the passion for "white" and "black" magic as such, when applied to Doc...but it's already there, and I can't retcon everything, so why not go the path of least resistance and say, yes, "black" magic in the sense of the kind of magic Doc was once Master of, is relatively easy magic. A stage, that the novitiate is intended to get through. "Black" magic...if you take it too far, if you can't rise up to the next level of perception...ooooh, this is my first big geek-out in a long time, feels good!...then you basically turn into Mordo, the ultimate failed-state magician.

...And as a matter of fact, I rather like the idea that, for his excessive pursuit of such strictly control-oriented magical methods, an exploration of "dark" unheard of since the days of Kaluu himself...and maybe even surpassing them...he is the one person whom the Universe has excepted from consideration for the office of SS...

...But whatever, I can't have everything. Let's say Mordo's "in". Well, why not? But, he never made it past "black".

Neither did Doom, my fan-fic sense tells me. What a bitter irony, the very stuff of which Doom is made, if he couldn't find anyone to teach him the more difficult "white" magic! Of course his ego would never allow him to stomach the philosophy: he was born Darth Vader. No one would ever take him on. So, he has to fight Mephisto with black magic? Mephisto probably gets a chuckle out of this! But Doom keeps on plugging...he can't realize that it's impossible, he's DOOM!, right? So he keeps going at it. Cagliostro, Morgan le Fay, he always goes to the black magicians in his time machine...because he can't reach Merlin, can he? He only wants his artifacts...

But anyway, is that what "magic" is to be? The stuff that's like Victor Von Doom? No, I don't see it that way...if there were a contest between Doom and Mordo, Mordo ought to beat Doom's tin pants off. Was Doom trained by the Ancient One? No. Has Doom been doing this his whole life?


But that's where my vote and Bendis' vote may diverge. I think magic "ought to be" supportive of the structure of legitimate cosmic "authority" in the MU. Or at least, not only about the up-and-comer hardass upsetting the odds to prove he's better than the old orthodoxy! After all, in the Doc stories we already have two characters exactly like that: Doc and Mordo. And Doc's humble before proper authority, and Mordo isn't, and that's the difference. So what the hell do we need Doom for? Mordo is the Doom of Doc's milieu. Might as well have The Hood triumph, if "shockola, the guy you hate won!" is all we're going for here. So I argue: no Doom. Hey, he's never been to the Dimension of Raggadorr, you know! Heck, has he even set loose his ectoplasmic form? So why should he get to be the big cheese instead of Mordo, here! Except, of's a vote, isn't it? "The hell with the qualifications, the hell with whether it makes sense or not, I want to do it this way!" That's been Bendis' vote for a while now: unearned elevations. You don't have to put in the work. And my vote, naturally, is for a reinstantiation, at long last! of the old comic-book-morality principle, as hoary and hidebound as it is, that must do the work, and there are no shortcuts, and when it comes right down to it this is a black-and-white moral universe. With wiggle room, to be sure! But still largely black and white in its moral resolutions. "Heroes" and "Villains", and all that. It doesn't have to be "A is A"! But it has to be something...good has to win out, right?

Another matter for the referendum: what can Doc do? What is "magic"? Jonathan Burns posted a beautiful comment on my blog that I'm sure you recall, P-Tor, about the effortful, physical nature of Ditkoian magic. And I'll vote for that, too! But I don't know if Bendis would. Heck, if his FF was any indication, neither would Mark Waid! Just like the writers of Wanda, Illyana, Wiccan...stuff just happens, and once again in that there's a moral conclusion: work isn't necessary. Cost isn't necessary. Claremont never really got this, I think...

But anyway: MORE! Okay, I don't know who "Ian McKnee" is, but I know Jericho Drumm...and there could well be a story there! But he's not at the level. Doom's not at the level. Clea, God love 'er, is NOT AT THE LEVEL! Does anyone think Clea's at the level? Clea's great, but if Doom and Mordo are like Darth Vader, Clea's like Luke when he gives up his training to go free his friends. Only in Clea's case, it was her Dimension.

Jennifer's at the level, though. And how do we know? Because Dakimh said so, for heaven's sake he was always telling her she was...!

...I mean, come on, what's Doom even doing here? Jennifer was taught by the last disciple of Zhered-Na...Mordo was taught by the Ancient One...Clea, at the very least, was taught by Doc. Again, it's a vote: does this matter? I vote "yes"...and my vote doesn't count, but I still vote YES, damn it...!

So, fan-fic type of idea: Mordo shellacs Doom. It's humiliating! But who said Doom was unbeatable, heck the FF beat him all the time, they humiliate him all the time! Okay, Doom can win (or at least survive, or escape) by science, but he can not do it by magic! Not against Mordo.

So then...

Jennifer Kale fights Mordo, and almost loses, but then COMES THROUGH IN THE END, validating all Dakimh's trust in her, and also on our behalf she's a GOODIE! And friends with Man-Thing too. Plus, kinda cute.

I mean...that would be okay with me, you know?

And probably Clea would turn up...Our Jennifer's nothing if not a friendly gal, would she and Clea really have nothing to do with one another? Nonsense. Mordo would be pissed at her, too -- beaten by Strange is *one* thing, but beaten by a girl? Yes, beaten by a girl, Mordo...

And most importantly: a new story, for heaven's sake! How long since any of us have seen one of those? Jennifer Kale could have her own title, how amazing would that be? She would be like the MU's Death of the Endless -- except spunkier...

And it would save her from getting bogged down in the Initiative and Dark Reign nonsense, too!

Okay, I lost a bit of steam there, I admit. Had to eat dinner, you see. Tourtiere. Took me two months from Christmas to lay my hands on it, but I finally did...take my advice and eat it with some frozen peas. A little chutney wouldn't hurt. Then prepare to go down for a looooong nap.


~P~ said...

Damn... This is filled with so much good stuff that my brain can hardly keep from frying out.

You've got some VERY interesting angles presented here, and give one of the BEST damned arguments for Jennifer Kale that I could imagine being put forth by ANYONE.

Yes. YES! It makes perfect sense for Kale to inherit the mantle.
DAKIMH absolutely DID say so, didn't he?

And, she's been around in the background for many years now.

A major supporting player in MAN-THING (v1 mostly, but v2 as well)...

the LEGION of NIGHT...

Ghost Rider (and the revelation that her ancestor is also Johnny Blaze's ancestor, tying her into the Spirits of Vengeance...

And DOC's own book as well, as she's always a go-to aide de camp for Doc, and one of the "Witches", and keeper of the Tome of Zhered-Na...

Yes! With the MAN-THING as a familiar, I'm on board.

Perhaps other Doc-fans will still see it as heresy, but, for me... I'll take it, gladly (for the short term).

Poor Karl Amadeus Mordo.
Always the Bride's-maid...

And, Mordo SHOULD be able to kick Doom's ass, shouldn't he? Except, that DOOM is prepared for nearly anything, and Mordo has been beaten by Strange under some of the thinnest possible illusions and feints.

Mordo's not very smart.

He's the bully, who's used to getting his way because he got bigger than the other kids earlier than they did. But as soon as ONE of them can even remotely figure out that the bluster, bombast and bullying is ALL that Mordo's got... it's over.

Mordo is a coward.

He wants to LIVE more than he wants to WIN. That's his undoing.
Strange (or DOOM) are willing to lay their LIVES on the line to get the job done.
Mordo isn't.

The black magic = BASIC (BASE) magic is a VERY cool concept. It makes complete sense to place Strange's history in that light.
NOW it all makes sense. The early incantations to Dormammu and Satannish? All lower-end. Nothing that would attract the attention of such big-wigs to the summoner.

But once you step over into WHITE/Advanced magics... you stand out like a beacon.
You've made it to the next plateau.

You've stared into the abyss... (etc...)
No longer a mystical case of Ring-and-Run, you've knocked on the door so hard you've practically kicked it in, and Old Man Dormammu is PISSED!

Technically, DOOM and MORDO are similar in overall style of over-the-top swaggering villains, but DOOM sees himself as the World's proper RULER (and probable best-man-for-the-job of "savior" - if things are done HIS way).

MORDO is pure CHAOS.
He merely wants POWER to RULE.
And if he can't have that, he's more than content to blow the whole shit-box to kingdom come (or sell it to the Demonic Dictator of the Day).

We truly COULD get some great storylines out of Mordo, but one of the best and complete was already done (back-up features in the Sorcerer Supreme series - the life and history of the Mordo's was revealed - with some truly fabulously wonky art by Tom Sutton - iirc).

As to the NATURE of magic...
I've ALWAYS been (as my many comments on YOUR blog will attest) of the mind-set that magic has COSTS. It requires EFFORT.
It does NOT come easy and should NOT be used (or taken) lightly.

That's something that Marvel doesn't understand.
They see ALL "powers" as "point your finger and a beam comes out - as easy as taking a piss."

And THAT'S why they can't seem to stop Doctor Strange from being a Deus ex Machina who is too powerful for the room.

Not one "modern" writer seems to understand mysticism.
It seems that only minds who have been at play in that arena since the 1960's or 1970's at the latest seem to have the trace memory of magic - as if the "me-Generation"-years removed all knowledge and trace of magic from the collective unconscious.

Why do we have need for the ephemeral, when the TANGIBLE, the MATERIAL is HERE and easily obtained.
Why seek the Madonna (Celestial or Christian or Spiritual) when the "Material Girl" was all the rage?

Most of those old-school writers were sent out to pasture - or - seeing the blood on the walls, got the hell out of Dodge - for sunnier climes, leaving younger "Youngblood" writers as the new guard.

And somewhere along the years... (as Larry Nivin correctly surmised); "The Magic Goes Away".

Bendis isn't a "magic" writer.
He's not een a SUPERHERO writer.
He does CRIME stories. And he does them WELL!

Some of his super-duper stuff is alright.

I just read New Avengers # 50, and it was split down the middle between talking heads and kicking-in heads.

And ONE LINE in that whole book shone out as a BEACON of hope for his treatment of Doc.

When asked where Dr. Strange is, Bendis has Luke Cage (natch) say:

"Walking the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu".


That's a story I'd like to see.

One of my all time FAVORITE bits of Doc goodness is along that line.
(I'll be devoting a post to it - and it's been something that I've been dying to blog about before the web even existed!)
After the Sise-Neg affair, Doc is meditating in the Desert and gives this amazing creedo about the Sanctity of Life and the responsibility of being it's protector.

Awesome stuff.
Gets me in the gut each and every time.

Englehart, man.
He understood magic.
Not just the hocus-pocus of it, but the nature of life-forces in the Universe.

Claremont, as you posit... not as much.
BUT, he did get it right on occasion.

That issue of Marvel Fanfare he wrote a Doctor Strang story for (issue # 5) dealt explicity with the nature of magic being about cost and resposibility and effort, and uses it against the villain of the piece.
(With glorious art by Marshall Rogers and Craig Russel... it's a must have!)

Yeah... I'm already wading hip-deep into territory where I'll be blogging soon.
I'd best back out of the pool.

As always, Plok.
Great to have you around the blog.


Anonymous said...

You're right about Mordo not being very bright, of course...and Doom is, but is that enough to get him through in the running for SS? I know he came close once before...but...

The thing is, Mordo is dumb, but he has more knowledge than Doom. He's a first-class adept, and Doom isn't. This is potentially a very interesting to note, about Doom! He has such an ego that he believes he can have no true teachers -- he's what we used to call in university a Frankenbuddha, a precocious child who lays hold of a D.T. Suzuki book, reads only the introduction, and then concludes he can easily duplicate the spiritual achievement because of his great intellect. Everywhere he's ever gone, it's been "bah! you can teach me nothing more!" And he is good, that's for sure -- he's brilliant and talented. But he can't submit, even as much as Mordo brought himself to do. He's too smart to learn -- poor old dumbass Mordo learned better than Doom, because he was DUMBER than Doom, and therefore had to confront his limitations more frequently. Just as you say: Doom wants to RULE.

Mordo doesn't, perhaps in part because he knows he can't. He wanted Strange out of the picture so that he would have no rivals. Doom believes he's unmatched by anyone, even though Reed Richards takes him to pieces every single time they tangle, on every level except sheer stubborn survival. Mordo, as useless as he is, is further along the path to Enlightenment than Doom: he understands that Doc is better than he is, even if he hates him for it he does UNDERSTAND it. So who's the dummy now, eh?

Good stories. It's tempting to assume that Bendis (for example) mistakes a story for a mere denouement: "who will be the new Sorceror Supreme?" isn't the story. That's just the plot point, like who killed rich old Mr. Eccentric, it's never THE point. So here's a story for you, that by the way just manages to uphold Mordo's status (and it does need upholding!) of Classic Villain even though it seems he gets punked by everybody: Doom ought to win a mystic combat with Mordo, regardless of ol' Karl's greater learning. Same way Strange always has, by out-thinking him...which is not that hard to do.

But what Doom doesn't, can't possibly, never will understand is: it's not about how smart you are. It's not about how far you're willing to go. The true discipline of spirituality (it says here), no matter what tradition you look at, is the discipline of acceptance. And perhaps this is the true division between "Black" and "White" magic? Hmm, wait for the digression, but...yes, the magician who can't make the leap beyond mere "power", mere "control", will never attain the true heights...magic, like love, is about letting go. No matter how good you get at control, the Eye and the Cloak will never work for you, you know? Digression in a moment, but try this one on, for a story...

Doom thinks, "even though this guy is privy to more advanced training than I am, my natural genius evens the odds"...and he's RIGHT.


At a certain point in the struggle, Mordo manages a feat Doom would find realizing that fact!

And then he does what Doc always does: uses his head, commits absolutely to a faint-hope tactic! Relying on his opponent's overconfidence! This is Mordo's great moment, this could be his long-awaited next step on Magic's path! Doom, think about it, is not used to facing opponents who are willing to dare as much as he! And Doom's a coward too, you know -- a moral coward. Well, we saw it in that old What If, right? How ironic, Mordo turns on Doom the same perspective that he himself has always been defeated by! In the heat and shame of the moment, he realizes he can't win...but decides he's damned if he'll allow Doom to become SS! And for just a moment, forgets his cowardice and his ever-wounded pride. And Doom would still beat him...

But Doom can't forget his pride, ever...and he can never turn off his intelligence. Always playing the angles, he realizes, in just a split-second, that total commitment will only win him the game as long as he can manipulate Mordo into playing his way...and because his failing is that he'll dare everything, but never without a contingency plan, he HAS ONE, and in the moment he considers whether he ought not to use it he loses the contest, and then must use it, and for all the Doom-lovers out there it's a classic case of how you can never defeat the guy, he's always got a trick up his sleeve...but he doesn't WIN.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three pretty good ways to work that.

So's Mordo vs. "Mordo", for all the marbles! But the real Mordo has a secret weapon: perspective, even if unwilling perspective. And Doom doesn't have this. Doom thinks Richards has only ever beaten him by trickery, whereas Mordo knows he always loses to Doc because he's NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Mordo sees himself in Doom, but Doom sees only an adversary...and so he can't muster the jam (ha! funny expression), and it's goodnight from him.

...And then Mordo fights Jennifer, in the very moment of his triumph. He's all a-tingle, he feels like a new man! He feels like the hero of the story for once! For a moment, kind and thoughtful Jen wonders if he hasn't turned over a new leaf, if maybe now he's gone through the baptism of fire he doesn't deserve it...of course that's just what a Gerber character would think, but unfortunately for Mordo he's not a Gerber character he's a DITKO VILLAIN, and he just can't maintain the level of enlightenment, you know? (Little Space Turnip joke, there.) Having given up his pride, Mordo unexpectedly finds he's been given a chance to reassert it again...and that's when Jennifer's diffidence disappears, and she mops the floor with him.

Well, the Gerber model: there's no real heroism without introspection. Questioning, diffidence, is the anvil on which heroism gets hammered out. Diffidence and doubt are what render the TRUE heroism. Jen is much farther along the path to enlightenment than Mordo, and it's too bad for Mordo but it's true. Claremont would say: "the outcome is never in doubt." NOT TRUE! The outcome is always in doubt! You need to get up close and personal, with that doubt!

An intersection with Ditko and Gerber? Gosh, that'd be nice, wouldn't it...?

DIGRESSION: yeah, these old guys knew what was what, magic-wise. Know why? Well, naturally you do, it's because they looked into it...THEY were interested in enlightenment TOO. Gerber's bedtime reading was Camus. Bendis -- I do not mean to hate on him, but it seems his is more in the nature of Entertainment Weekly, not to say Maxim. Gerber and Englehart both frequented the "Esoterica" section of their local library, and it showed (shows). And it isn't Bendis' fault he's of a different generation and mindset, but...he likes movies.

I do feel a bit guilty for saying that. BUt is Bendis ever going to write The Point Man? He is not. And by the way, if you didn't know, Englehart's writing some sequels to The Point Man...!

MORE DIGRESSION: Here's a thing about my little retcon of "black" and "white" magic, beautifully expanded on by youwith the "Ring And Run" magic's a test. That works just the same way as motor skills acquisition does. Check it out: if you graph an athlete's progress, you find that they start from zero, and rise swiftly or not-so-swiftly (but usually pretty swiftly) to a level of competence. A level on which they can compete with more experienced athletes. In my experience this is because they find they can't master a repertoire of techniques as someone who's more advanced in their training can...but they can have their One Trick. I am missing the Daily Show for this, I can't help it, they'll re-run it, I'm enjoying this. The geek-out. Okay, the One Trick. If they can just get themselves into the position to pull it, they'll score the goal or whatever. It's a super trick, often an outlier competency that they get good at, that no one else knows how to counter when it's done well. And this makes them competitors. But then...

...And this is all true, by the way...

...Then, they hit a plateau. There are three plateaus, basically, before the point of mastery. After mastery there are no plateaus, though no steep rises in the graph neither: just a steady creep upwards...

They hit a plateau, and here's the nature of the plateau: the One Trick deserts you. You don't do it as well anymore: it's like you can't remember how. And now there are two options: frantically try to learn something new to replace the One Trick, or keep pounding away on it 'til you get your mojo back. And here's how those options work out:

If you learn the new stuff, up you go again off the plateau, on another steep rise. If you accept your failure, you rise. You'll get back the old Trick once you top out at the next plateau, only it'll be different, because you'll be different. I learned all this from playing table hockey. keep pounding away at the old Trick, and eventually you do get it back. You can even improve it. You can focus it into a laser. You can get as good at it as you can imagine. But you stop rising. You stop learning. You never suffer a "loss" of ability again, and you count yourself lucky...but really that's the opposite of luck.


Doc decided one day to stop calling on Dormammu. He used to call on Dormammu so excellently, you know! Why not a mystic in a hundred ever called on Dormammu so creatively or so well! And then he was weaker...and then he had to fight Dormammu. Oh, if only he could've called on Dormammu when he was fighting Dormammu, things would've been a lot different! But then when he finally achieves success without his crutch, there he gets the Eye and the Cloak, doesn't he? Now he gets to be the favourite up-and-comer of the Vishanti...but he had to beat Dormammu on his own.

Mordo just kept calling on Dormammu ever more strongly. And he got power out of it! But that's all he got. And the power came at the expense of realizing, that, as I sometimes like to say before diving into the summer water, "control is an illusion!"

Sometimes I even smash my palms together and declare: "Heaven and Earth are limitless!"

And then I dive right in, you see.

It'd be no wonder Mordo couldn't maintain a level of enlightenment, obviously. Well, he went nuts when he saw God, didn't he? But this is just another piece of evidence about him being further along the path of enlightenment than Doom -- heaven help him, Doom wouldn't have gone nuts from not being able to accept what he saw!

How sad.

Okay, time for beer! Hope this one posts.

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