Monday, June 29, 2009

Pen-Ultimate Doctor Strange?
Ding Dong, Dork Doc is Dead.

As a part of my recent reading my backlog of the past 2+ months' pile of comics, I came across the events of Ultimate Spider-Man # 131, 132 & Ultimatum # 4.

*NOTE: Some MAJOR SPOILERS are in this post for anyone who hasn't yet read the Ultimatum storyline
(lookin' at YOU "waiting for the trade" guys out there).
This is your ONLY warning.*

Ultimatum # 4
Cover "A" by David Finch and Variant cover "B" by Ed McGuinness

Before I get involved with the seeming DEATH of the Ultimate Universe's Stephen Strange Jr., I should note that in the events of those issues, the Sanctum Sanctorum was once again destroyed.

Anyone who has followed this blog long enough (or just lucked into the posts via a google search) knows that I had a long running, and extensive expose' on ALL of the varied times that the Sanctum was destroyed.

So, the other day, I added THIS instance to that series, found [HERE] in the next-to-last entry of that series.

- A look in the mirror before heading out: - The Finale.

(You may notice that I made a note of the add-on in the "SPELLS RE-CAST" feature on the sidebar. A handy place where I note any additional major tweaks to old posts.)

So, feel free to check THAT out, but not before you stick around and witness the apparent demise of "Ultimate" Doctor Strange
(and...just WHY is he called "Doctor" Strange if he isn't a doctor of any kind, anyway? I thought only Dr. Doom had the ability to pull that off. But I digress...).

So, back to the point at hand.

In the "Ultimatum" storyline (basically the equivalent of the "reboot" switch being thrown for the line of comics that, by the very nature of it's intended origin, should never have needed one) Magneto has finally become pissed off enough to warrant his laying waste to the Earth, in an attempt to punish homo sapiens for the death of his kids; Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch.

To that end, he has screwed up the magnetic fields of the planet and caused earthquakes, ice-ages and floods to crop up all over the world.

During the massive flooding of Manhattan, many heroes were killed - either by the disaster itself, or by altercations with villains.

"Strangely" enough, with the exception of the Hulk
the other 3 guys in this pic are now (or are claimed to be) DEAD.

One such instance was when Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum was destroyed (remember, check out the last entry at THIS post for the full scoop on that).
Spider-Man and the Hulk were battling against the various demonic hoards that erupted from the wreckage of the mansion, including the possessed form of Stephen Strange.
It seems that "Doc Jr." was knocked out and the entity; NIGHTMARE invaded his body.

"Who's been sleeping in MY head?"
(from Ultimate Spider-Man # 132 Bendis/Immonen/Von Grawbadger)

Nightmare-Strange then manipulates Spidey and Hulk to battle foes pulled from their own nightmares, and in doing so, causes the Hulk to go ape-shit and thusly destroy a vital mystic ward inside the Sanctum.

This isn't good.It's like that episode of Bugs Bunny where the gremlin is testing warheads with a hammer.
(also from Ult. Spidey # 132)

This dimensional barrier was the only thing keeping DORMAMMU from invading Earth, and with its destruction, the Lord of the Dark Dimension rose out of the ashes.

Ultimatum # 4 (of 5)
Jeph Loeb (half-assed story), David Finch (sweet pencils),
Danny Miki (crisp inks), Peter Steigerwald (pretty colors)
It would seem that THIS was sufficient to "wake" Strange, and for him to shake off the possession by Nightmare - although, the writing is so piss-poor that this, and other plot points, aren't clearly addressed.

For instance, WHEN in "Ultimate Doc's" published history has he been portrayed as being anything more than a 2nd rate sorcerer? When did he show that he could levitate without the Cloak of Levitation? When did he suddenly get the stones to go up against Dormammu of all things? (something Doc Sr. could do, but Jr. here just never seemed able to much beyond basic spells.)

I also find it a bit forced that Dormammu is brought up at all in this, since there's only ever been the most basic of mystical threats shown in the Ultimate U. At least where the resident "Sorcerer Supreme" has been concerned.
Xandu and Nightmare.
Pretty sure that's been the sum total.
So, Dormammu pops up with little or no explanation.
If someone were to read this issue having never read a "616" appearance of Dormammu before, they'd just think he was a generic flame-headed demon.
No biggie.
So. Chalk that up to piss-poor writing as well.
(Synonymous with the name LOEB)

(I SHOULD mention at this time that the artwork is beautiful. Finch, Von Grawbadger and Steigerwald really do themselves justice here. But, back to my rant about the writing...)

Also, when was the Human Torch shown to have been grabbed by Dormammu?
It's an off-panel event (unless I missed something. If so, please set me straight in the comments section).
Sure he's been MiA for a while in the Ult FF title, but there hadn't been any reason to think that he'd pop up in Dormammu's keepsake locket, right?

The Torch is being used as a fire source... and WHY is that?!? Sure, Dormammu is a Faltinian and flame is their natural state - so unless he required an earthly manifestation of fire to use as a catalyst, I don't see the need (although, we really don't know much about "Ultimate Dormammu" * ).

Don't start none - won't be none.
Well... I guess there'll BE some no matter what, really.

However, Dormammu isn't taking ANY shit from Junior here.
In a bit of dialogue that sets up the title of "Sorcerer Supreme" as a mantle passed down a blood-lineage (not sure how I feel about that really), Dormammu states that he is finally to rid himself of the last, and least of the line.

Dormammu pops Jr. like a boil on the ass of the world.

So, thankfully (and in reply to my many prayers for just such an occasion - many of which had been written ON THIS BLOG) "Ultimate Doc" is killed off as the punk that he is.
Good riddance.

Or... IS he really gone?

For we next see a shadowy form sigh and vanish with young Stephen Jr's bloody pulped body.

Perhaps it is Wong. I doubt that it is Stephen's mother, Clea. She wouldn't be casual enough to sigh at her son's horrific demise. Especially since her only appearance in the Ultimate line was as a worried-sick mother who did not want her son to follow in his father's footsteps (back in the Ultimate Team Up series - Issue # 12 to be exact. Ult Doc's first appearance).

Perhaps, and this is MY wish; it is DOCTOR STRANGE (Sr.) himself, free of whatever dimensional situation he vanished to all those years ago, returned to Earth, only to bear witness to his son's death.
That would finally make "Ultimate" Doctor Strange more than his son; "PenUltimate Doc".
If Stephen Strange Sr. comes out to play in the Ultimate universe, then I'll be happy.
(Well... relatively happy, since I really don't give a crap about the Ultimate U. thus far.)

So there you have it.
The "event" is not yet over at the time of this writing.
One last issue of the mini and a few "Requiem" issues to go, and then we'll see a new rebirth to the "Ultimate" universe.

Stephen Strange Jr.
(Rest in Pieces)
2002 - 2009


* I had a thought.
If the Ultimate Universe is just another reality, and there have already been many examples of Marvel "616" characters being able to access other realities (since they are just other dimensions, really) - wouldn't that possibly make this "Ultimate Dormmamu" to simply BE the "616" Dormammu?

Sure, it COULD be another version of the entity, but WHY?
The Ultimate Universe should primarily be alternate versions of the PHYSICAL PLANE; i.e; people, planets, space, etc... and NOT the DIMENSIONAL aspects of reality.

But, then, they DO have an "Ultimate Asgard" don't they?
Is there an "Ultimate Living Tribunal" or "Ultimate Eternity"?
Having "Ultimate" dimensional entities just seems wrong to me.

Oh well... whatever.
"Ultimately"... does it really matter?



Well, there's been some answers to my questions / points of problematic happenstance in this issue (published later in Fantastic Four: Requiem).

REVIEW and INFO can be found in a new post [HERE]



plok said...

Re: the thought...

...Well it better not matter, because it's all far too deeply screwed up now. As far as I can tell, both the Marvel Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Zombies Universe are in some kind of multiversal in-continuity relationship with the Marvel Universe proper...only problem being that both of those universes are actually multiverses of their own, and so: I'm not saying there isn't a possible multi-multi-universal structure that someone could come up with to rationalize all these things, but as much as the Inner Cool Guy in my head is calling me a geek right now, to be accurate this is rather an interesting, possibly unprecedented, development. Here we have a shared-universe continuity-based fantasy environment which may finally, actually have been broken...and when has that ever happened before? The rules don't apply to the things the rules apply to, anymore -- and WHAMMO, that's pretty weird. Even if it isn't broken yet, it may be being broken in front of our eyes.

Of course, one day soon, probably no one will notice or care. Except you and I, I guess.

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