Version 1.32. Last updated: 18 February 2013.
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Now, let's proceed:
Reprints the core Stan Lee-Steve Ditko legendary run that started it all: Strange Tales #110, 111, 114-141. In full color, and paperback.
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(This TPB replaces a previous recommendation for Doctor Strange Classics #1-4, the 1984 John-Byrne-covered color reprints of Strange Tales #130-141, the classic Lee-Ditko confrontation between Doctor Strange, Baron Mordo and Dormammu. These can still be found cheap (about $2 each). The Marvel Masterworks original hardcover was never recommended here due to price.)
The "bible" (or "phone book"). Reprints Strange Tales #110, 111, 114-168. This includes all of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's classic run (and more- Doc's first 57 stories (except for three crossovers))- note it includes the Masterwork stories above, and/but it is in black and white.
Full capsule review from The Comics Journal #251 by Tim O'Neil:
Steve Ditko's work for Marvel during the early sixties set a benchmark for the weird. The direct opposite of Kirby's humanistic dynamism, Ditko's distorted alienation was distinctive enough to create in the character of Spider-Man one of the true classic concepts in the history of mainstream publishing.
Dr. Strange, while less an icon than Spider-Man, stands as no less an achievement for the team of Ditko and Stan Lee. It is perhaps even a testament to the character's unique makeup that no one after these initial creators has come close to replicating the (ahem) magic of this original run. While Spider-Man's (now cliched) "everyman" status enabled him to swing onto Underoos and (soon) movie-screens across the world, Dr. Strange is just too peculiar a proposition to succeed in the hands of anyone but Ditko.
This volume allows the reader to see a clear evolution of Ditko's peerless line. From the rough beginnings of the strip's genesis, Ditko's brushwork grows to allow for more control, more lyrically illustrative techniques juxtaposed against a firmer command of spotted blacks. This is a must-have volume for anyone interested in studying the artistic maturity of one of the form's masters.
There are, however, two major qualms with this volume as a whole. First, Stan Lee's scripting acts as a polarizing element: you are either born with an enthusiastic appreciation for his hyperbolically dense purple prose or not. Secondly, the final third of the book - bereft of either creator's presence - suffers greatly by the comparison, to the point of being unreadable in parts. It is notable, however, for the brief presence of comics pioneer Bill Everett's distinctive style - closer in spirit to the then-burgeoning underground scene than anything else produced by Marvel at the time.
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Reprints Marvel Premiere #9, 10, 12-14, and Doctor Strange #1, 2, 4, 5. Includes the death of the Ancient One, the finale of the Shuma-Gorath saga, and some mighty strong work by Englehart and Brunner including the classic confrontation between Doc and Silver Dagger. The entire Shuma Gorath Saga (Marvel Premiere #4-10), inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, is recommended but unfortunately not reprinted.
Update: This TPB is now out of print.
(This TPB replaces a previous recommendation for Doctor Strange Special Edition, which reprinted Doctor Strange #1, 2, 4, 5, with Wrightson cover, 1983.)
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This noirish Marvel Knights miniseries from 1999 represented the best Doctor Strange story in the ten-year span surrounding it. It hasn't been reprinted into TPB, but the set should still be acquirable for under $10.
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Reprints Tomb of Dracula #44 and Doctor Strange #14, a classic old-school crossover tussle between Doc and Drac- and Doctor Strange #58-62, the Roger Stern tale that leads to the temporary death of all vampires in the Marvel Universe. Roger Stern is Neilalien's favorite Doc writer after Stan Lee, and the one Neilalien grew up with. Stern's entire run is recommended.
Update: This TPB is now out of print.
(This TPB replaces a previous recommendation for the individual issues of Doctor Strange #56-62, Stern's Origin Retelling to the Death of Dracula.)
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Dr. Strange wins a contest of the Vishanti- and the prize is to help Dr. Doom save his mother from Mephisto's clutches in Hell! By Roger Stern, Mike Mignola, and Mark Badger. Excellent- arguably the best Dr. Strange story ever (although the story is driven more by Doom). Highly recommended. 1989. Look on Ebay for a paperback cover.
Update: This has become a collectible and now difficult to find cheaply.
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Doctor Strange: Where Do I Start? [IFanboy; by Chris Arrant; 5/2011]