Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust...
Unless You're DR. STRANGE

ASH WEDNESDAY is the day, in the Christian faith, that is the beginning of Lent; a 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting, before Easter Sunday - the day that believers the world-over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Traditionally, the ashes (which are the burnt remains from the previous year's Palm Sunday palm-tree leaves) are placed upon the forehead of the worshipper in the shape of a cross.

This is to be a visible reminder of our mortality.
While applying the ashes, the priest or celebrant will typically state:
"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."
However, for we comic book nerds, Doctor Strange had his own version of this marking, and it also appeared on his forehead to let him know that he was in mortal danger.
I am, of course, referring to the Ankh.

1st appearance of the Ankh, from Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4
Steve Englehart (writer), Frank Brunner (artist)

Starting from Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 4 and continuing through a few decades, until it was eventually phased out, the Ankh was the go-to method for letting the reader know that something dire was happening to Dr. Strange, as it also made Doc aware of his own impending doom.

Image from Man-Thing v2 # 4
(Man-Thing drowning poor old Doc.)
Chris Claremont (writer), Don Perlin & Bob Wiacek (artists)
John Costanza (letters),  Ben Sean (colors)

However, unlike you or I, the threat of our mortal form reverting back to the dust whence we came isn't something that deeply concerns a Master of the Mystic Arts.

For, earlier in the same issue that this previous image was taken (Man-Thing v2 # 4), Doctor Strange was drained of nearly all of his life-energies and reduced to an elderly, withered husk of his former self - yet, with the power of magic, he was able to completely rejuvenate himself.

Ashes to Ash...uh, nevermind. Feelin' fine.

The ankh was bestowed upon Strange when he passed the test of mastery over death, and was granted an immortality of sorts. Details of that can be found in a previous blog post [HERE].

So, during this Lenten season, when you reflect upon your failings and mortality, remember... Doctor Strange is better than you.


Jade said...

Dr. Strange is totally better than me. But I'm not perfect, just forgiven ^_^

Happy Lent -Jade

Jade said...

Interesting post, btw!

Howard Hallis said...

Another appearance of the Ankh on Strange's forehead as he approaches Death:

~P~ said...

Well, SURE, Howard.
I mean she's standing RIGHT THERE.


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