Best Dr. Strange Appearance: Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #5
The largest (outside of New Avengers), most creative and competent appearance of Doctor Strange himself for the year- but that's despite being a non-616 non-solo kiddie appearance with another origin retelling and Wong and Ancient One retooling.
Worst Dr. Strange Appearance, Runners-Up: Several blatantly useless ones: Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 ("I'm not at my peak..." OUT); Amazing Spider-Man #555 ("spent..." OUT); What If? Secret Wars #1 ("I've prepped for 25 years..." OUT)
Other Notable Dr. Strange Appearances:
Cable & Deadpool #47
(this app is unliked as "Doc orders killing to bring a villain back to life" by Sanctum, but Neilalien enjoyed the funny, and read it more as "Deadpool has to bloody his sword with certain life essences to repair dimensional-barrier damage" (maybe Neilalien is squinting to see what he wants, but except for the beheading of an obviously evil succubus, mostly the victim creatures are clearly shown non-dead or otherwise too large, tough or misty (one has only a hand sliced off- not that maiming is the purview of good guys either, so Sanctum has a point) to be killed with one katana blow), and the main purpose is to repair dimensional boundaries, not resurrect the villain, that's just a fun side-effect to bring the villain back)
Best Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc., Tie: Magic Super-Skrull in Captain Britain and MI:13
Best Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc., Tie: Clea in "Un-Enchanted Evening", King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special, by Paul Tobin (who also wrote Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #5) and Colleen Coover
Best Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc., Runner-Up: Plokta and the Mindless Ones in Captain Britain and MI:13
Worst Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc.: Last Defenders #1: the revelation that Son of Satan had visited the Ancient One before Stephen Strange (the list of characters who have done this seems to grow by the year), the Ancient One talking with foreknowledge of Stephen Strange being the Chosen One (the original, better, non-Neo Doc origin seems to fade away by the year), the talk as if the Son of Satan's occult power, which granted should be immense, essentially eclipsing Doctor Strange's
Other Appearances of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc.: Nightmare in both Incredible Hercules #118 and Fantastic Four: True Story; Dormammu revealed as the Hood's patron in New Avengers
Biggest Disappointment to Dr. Strange Fans: Doc mostly out of the picture for 02008 and Secret Invasion
Greatest Hope for Dr. Strange Fans: the triumphant return of Doctor Strange in the New Avengers "New Sorcerer Supreme" storyline
The Comic Book of 02008: Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell
Some More Comic Books That Brought Neilalien Much Joy in 02008:
Marvel solicitations for April 02009 include an interesting Agamotto-Eyed Hood cover of New Avengers #52 ('New Sorcerer Supreme' storyline) [Comic Book Resources] [Sanctum Sanctorum Comix]
Solicit text: "Who is the new Sorcerer Supreme? The entire Marvel Universe hangs in the balance as the Avengers race to help the fallen Doctor Strange battle the forces of the Dark Dimension as they make their earthly power play." Looking better...
Also: Defenders in Hulk #11, Doc possibly in Avengers/Invaders #10.
26-year retailer is sickened re: the current state of the comic market; "Marvel and DC have done everything possible over the years to reduce the number of customers walking into our stores" [ICv2]
Also: "There should be monthly books for second tier characters like Captain Marvel and Dr. Strange."
Marvel maybe looking for cheaper than Samuel L. Jackson to play Nick Fury in movies [Hero Complex]
Interesting point about how if Marvel does all the individual superhero movies with stars, then how much is bringing them all together for The Avengers gonna cost?
Comics Have a Strong December; Down Slightly for the Year [ICv2]
Periodical comics down 3% for the year; the top 100 graphic novels were up 4% for the year; 02008 overall down 1% from 02007 (as well as they can determine sales numbers, which of course isn't very well).
Recession is a tough villain as comic book sales slump [Charlotte Observer]
Comic books sold well in 2008; graphic novels did, too [USA Today]
The numbers from comic stores are "holding up really well" so far [ICv2]
Early in this down economy so far, the comic book industry has held up relatively better- Lehman Brothers wouldn't have minded being down only 1%- but any small business apart from a pawn shop- especially the classically undercapitalized comic shop or comics publisher- if not the entire economy- is in a very perilous situation.
Batman killed twice to ensure readers of the collected editions got full stories [Newsarama]
Batman's recent death overshadowed by (1) Obama in Spidey and (2) no one believing supercomic deaths anymore [Comicbook.com, #2]
Neilalien's not much of (1) a big-event guy, nor (2) a DC guy, and even less of a DC-big-event guy- but one would think that he would have heard more about this, and sooner, and wouldn't have needed the Batman Wikipedia page's help to figure it all out. So super-icon Batman has been killed. Was there even half the news and buzz and general-public interest in this as there was with Captain America's death? Marvel really beats DC re: getting heat for its events. And then/even, they killed Bats twice. Once via helicopter crash in Batman #681 to give Morrison's famous R.I.P. storyline a future trade-paperback conclusion for/in itself, but he survived that to then die a month later in Final Crisis #6 via Darkseid's eyebeams. "Battle For The Cowl" storyline coming to see who replaces Bruce Wayne. Is that right? Sounds messed up. And the Newsarama article mentions a "cloning chamber"- ha, so that's where the ace is probably hiding, no? Neilalien smells a meta point here: the floppy format and its readers have been "suffering" for years at the hands of the evolution towards the graphic novel format, via decompression, pricing, etc., and now it's getting worse, as floppy stories do bonker things like the above to accommodate the collected editions.
A stage magician muses about ideas for tricks inspired by the Eye of Agamotto [The Magic Cafe Forum]
Neat! But the magician says this:
There was one particular instance where [the Eye] did something innovative. At first glance, it appears to be X-ray vision but it's different. What happened was that Ste[ph]en Strange ran across a Photograph taken of a criminal wearing a mask, a hood. The hood covered the whole face so that ONLY the criminal's eyes could be seen. Using his amulet, Steven Strange made the Eye of Agamotto shine on the Photograph and "expose" the face of the hooded man. Note that what makes this entirely DIFFERENT from X-ray vision (e.g., Superman) is that X-ray vision can see through only a 3-d object, e.g., a LIVE person. That is, X-ray vision would "expose" only if the hooded man was actually present IN-PERSON. But in the case of the PHOTOGRAPH, there is actually NO face underneath the hood in that photograph at all. In other words, what is captured in the Photograph is just the surface... With that in mind, you could also differentiate that X-ray vision (Superman) is science whereas the "exposure" of the photograph is magic.
Hrm. Neilalien turns his Eye of Truth, debunker of online Doctor Strange claims stated as fact but not in the comic record, upon the above passage, and is left wanting (granted, he doesn't have every single Doc appearance, and he is more prone to brainfarts as he approaches Ancient One status). The Doctor Strange Scholar Cabal- of course that includes Sanctum- is also stumped. A massive new Googling of "agamotto"- nor any of the hundred lists of the Eye of Agamotto's powers that now reside online (granted, most seem to be the same text cut-and-pasted on any wiki that will accept it)- mention the above ability either. Please help, Neilalienistas: Do any of you recall the above use of the Eye? Pending the comic book title, issue number, and page/panel, Neilalien's calling bullshit on the above. But he'd be happy to take it back and expand the Doctor Strange knowledgebase. If last night's episode of Supernatural with Barry Bostwick is any indication, those stage magicians are a tricky bunch...
The stories are the cake, and the shared-universe stuff is frosting. Things tend to go horribly wrong when people start to think the frosting is more important than the cake, and then get better when they remember that it's about the cake after all...
The real answer to questions like, "Why doesn't the Flash clean up Gotham City, too?" is "It would make Batman's cake lousy. People read BATMAN because they like crimefighter stuff where Batman's cool, and don't really want to see Superman or the Flash or Green Lantern mess with that particular cake." On the other hand, people who like stories where Batman and Superman and Green Lantern work together have the JLA cake, and some people like both kinds of cake.
Archive NBS Nightly News report from 01970 on Dr. Manhattan [YouTube]
New distributor rules risk the death of independent comics and the Direct Market
Major increase in minimum sales required ($2,500 wholesale (was $1,500), which means a book must now do about $6,250 retail business, 2,100 copies of a $3 book, and not even many small-press graphic novels reach $6,250) for monopolistic Direct Market distributor Diamond to reorder/relist a book; inspires dire predictions of the deaths of comics' legendarily low barrier to entry, any indie pamphlets/series, the whole pamphlet format, cheap comics, any lingering resistance to webcomics/moving online to sell one's comics, many publishers, maybe the DM itself, especially in this economy [Comics Reporter] [The Beat] [Icarus Publishing, update] [Comics212] [Newsarama] [Comic Book Resources] [Precocious Curmudgeon on the other bit of news: Diamond's pr0n catalog ending as print, now a PDF] [Lying In The Gutters]
"That's not web on her face": Great elucidation of how Marvel and DC cockblocked themselves re: Spidey/Obama Team-Up and Final Crisis #6 golden big-event opportunities, with crappy solicitation texts and processes [Brian Hibbs Tilting At Windmills at CBR]
Yay! Anticipated Morrison/Stewart sequel Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye in April [BeaucoupKevin]
Vice Presidential Handlers Lure Cheney Into Traveling Crate [The Onion]
For Obama's historic Inauguration Day.
Doctor Strange in Avengers/Invaders #7
He's with his fellow New Avengers discovering D'Spayre in the sewers using the Cosmic Cube to feed off war pain, and getting his regrets read to him re: turning away people he could have healed but they couldn't pay his price, and pushing Clea away, who could not "pay his price", either. Check it out. Neilalien hasn't been reading the mini-series, but he'll see how it goes now.
Baron Mordo is the villain in Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #43 for the kids
Mordo uses the FF's signatures to animate/link/etc. golems to attack each. A "silent" issue.
Silver Dagger's giant rabbit from Doctor Strange #1 and Doc's dispatch of the House of Shadows in Strange Tales #120 make peek-cameos in Marvels: Eye of The Camera [Sanctum Sanctorum Comix, #2]
A couple more panels of Zombie Doc and a Midnight Sons return in Marvel Zombies 3 #4
Star Wars adorably, hilariously, and so-close-but-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away-ly retold by a girl who hasn't seen it [Vimeo] [via Triptych Cryptic]
"With his fierce profile, long white hair, manful decolletage and Space Age jewelry, Mr. Montalban looks like either the world's oldest rock star or its hippest Indian chief," Janet Maslin wrote, reviewing [Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan] in The New York Times. "Either way, he looks terrific."
Montalban was 61 years old in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Neilalien didn't see it in the shop today. That's because he didn't even get into the shop today! The line at Midtown Comics in Times Square went halfway down the block. Guess it was for the Barack Obama appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #583, out today? Yikes. Shameless publisher stunt? But only possibly good for comics and business if retailers have enough to sell today.
Lining Up for Obama and Spider-Man [NYTimes.com City Room Blog]
Update: Obama/Spidey team-up stolen from Obama's appearance already in Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon #137? [Robot 6]
New book from Craig Yoe: Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster [official website, slideshow preview] [NSFW]
"Created in the early 1950s when Shuster was down on his luck after trying to reclaim the copyright for Superman, he illustrated these [S&M] images for an obscure series of magazines called Nights of Horror, sold under the counter until they were banned by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Also: Hilarious old-school D&D urban legend that demon prince of gnolls and ghouls Yeenoghu was created by Gary Gygax to thwart players who were avoiding accidentally summoning demons by name by saying "You Know Who" instead [Grognardia]
Mini-Rant: Doctor Strange in What If? Secret Wars #1, "What if Doctor Doom kept the Beyonder's Power?"
First off, +1 to the writer for having Doctor Strange do something interesting that few other heroes can do: hide in a pocket dimension where 25 years pass faster (reminiscent of the Seven Spheres War) studying for his confrontation with a Beyonder-powered Dr. Doom. But then... Doom just mystically clamps his mouth and hands!? Grrr. There's nothing inherently wrong with the procedure- Neilalien's a proponent of a Dr. Strange who isn't so omnipotent that he can't be in any danger nor in any stories- and requiring that spellcasting have verbal, somatic and material components (thank you Gary Gygax) is one fine way of getting there- and Ye Olde Mouthe Clampe (reminiscent of Strange's origin) has its place. But what a dud using it here! Is this what beats "enhanced forms of magic"? It looks like Strange is using sparklers against Doom. With such elaborate preparation- and the element of surprise, you'd only get one shot at Doom- Neilalien would have preferred to see Strange do a massive surprise killing strike. The Super-Sunbolt of Ra if it must be an energy blast. Then the smoke clears, show Doom still standing untouched, and then have Doom do something interesting in return to remove Strange's threat (like the way he makes Tony Stark's alcohol level permanently high (that's why Stark's puking in that panel))- maybe literally remove his mouth, or change the magical laws of physics so Strange can't call on the powers and principalities anymore, or banish Strange to that pocket dimension permanently, etc. Ye Olde Mouthe Clampe should not be able to be applied on a mystic of Strange's prowess (granted Doom is God in this case) mundanely (do it when he's poisoned, massively distracted, etc.), nor when his preparation is so hyped, it's a boring way for Doom to defeat Strange- and it makes Strange look like a yutz who stupidly overlooked the obvious for 25 years, not much of a "wonder" with "unconventional strategy" at all.
Doctor Strange: One of "9 comic book characters to watch in 02009" [MSNBC] [Newsarama]
By far one of the most enigmatic characters as of late in the Marvel Universe, if solicitations are to be trusted the good Doctor is in for his own life-changing experience in 2009. According to interview with Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis, Dr. Strange is to lose his role as Sorcerer Supreme as a response to using dark magic as seen in New Avengers Annual #2. He's been off the playing field for most of Secret Invasion, but his 2009 looks to see him back in the mix. The mantle of Sorcerer Supreme is up for grabs, and one of his most formidable foes, Dormammu, has reappeared as the benefactor of the Hood. And Hollywood might be in Dr. Strange's future too, with a tentative 2012 movie planned to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro and possibly scripted by Neil Gaiman. There's a lot of questions out there for Doctor Strange, but that's how he seems to like it.
Neilalien's a bit wary about how those questions will be answered, but this solid paragraph by Chris Arrant makes Doc's current predicament sound exciting!
Kurt Busiek: consistently good interviewee about comics creation/industry/superheroes [Comics Reporter (btw, consistently good interviewer)]
How to do superhero comics criticism [The Hurting]
Re: the "presumed target audience"- speaking for it, being in it- and going beyond what's on a concrete creative page and speculating/mindreading/criticizing antecedent/larger editorial/commercial decisions. (Alternate link title: Neilalien will always link to The Hurting's "shameful confessions" and "the corpse of his critical reputation". :) )
JM: March also sees New Avengers #51 and the "Search for the new Sorcerer Supreme." Dr. Strange has been synonymous as that guy for so long... what's behind the impetus to change it?
JQ: The Marvel Universe is an unpredictable place. We have some very cool ideas for Dr. Strange and the world of the Sorcerer Supreme. I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't already know when I say that whenever Dr. Strange shows up as a supporting character, you go "Yes! This guy is so cool! Why doesn't he get his own book?" And then when we give him his own book…it doesn't seem to do all that much…
JM: Yeah, we talked about this before as "The Scottie Pippen Syndrome." He's great when Michael Jordan's around.
JQ: Yeah, exactly. There's a whole category of those guys. Dr. Strange is in that category, Nick Fury and SHIELD have always been in that category, Namor's a guy who kinda falls into that category... who else? The Silver Surfer, maybe. So every now and then, we try to look for a new way to approach these characters, and maybe find a new tone for story for these characters that might inject that... that "thing," that magic- pardon the pun- that will take them to a higher level where maybe we can launch them into a new book that will be compelling. You know, Moon Knight was one of those characters, too, for a long time. We really got lucky with the [writer] Charlie Huston launch, and now that character's been stable and in his own series for years. If you asked me if we'd still be publishing Moon Knight several years down the road... I might have bet against it. But I love when stuff like that happens. So the search for a new sorcerer supreme will be a wonderful, redefining story for Dr. Strange, and... well, there are some big surprises coming for our fans in it.
Neilalien's dreading this whole storyline. We shall see. A new year, a new chance... [via Sanctum]
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