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Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. Nevertheless: Having begun his career with wartime Timely Comics and staying the course throughout the Atlas era, Stan the Man made comic-book history with Fantastic Four #1, harbinger of a bold new perspective in story writing that endures to this day. With some of the industry's greatest artists, he introduced hero after hero in Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and more -- forming a shared universe for rival publishers to measure themselves against. After an almost literal lifetime of writing and editing, Lee entered new entertainment fields and earned Marvel one opportunity after another. He remains one of Marvel's best-known public representatives.
Marvel has done another nice job with the 2nd (and final) collection of Dr. Strange stories from "Strange Tales." Despite the prominence of Steve Ditko's name on the cover, he only illustrated the first 5 of these 27 stories. Luckily, it's followed up by some solid work by Bill Everett, Marie Severin and Dan Adkins. Because this was one of the "lesser" series in the Marvel Universe, the Dr. Strange strip became a testing ground for writers, so we have early Marvel work by Denny O'Neill and Roy Thomas, as well as two guys who didn't remain in comics (and who knows what happened to them)named Raymond Marais and Jim Laurence. Nevertheless, the strong editorial hand of Stan Lee provides a certain consistency, despite the fact that there are several fairly forgettable tales here. But there are some very memorable tales as well: this collection includes the first appearances of Umar, Eternity and the Living Tribunal. Rectifying one small criticism from Volume 1, the covers are included in this volume, but all grouped together at the end...why they weren't included before each story is a mystery. Given the price of comics these days, 270 pages of story on high grade paper for this price is indeed a bargain.
As a kid I was a devoted follower of the old Dr. Strange stories... I tracked down all the old "Strange Tales" episodes, and slogged through the 1970s solo title, "The Defenders,"etc.
The stories in this volume, the second wave of Dr. Strange stories, include Steve Ditko's last work on the series, and after he bid a fond farwell to one of his greatest creations, the artwork was taken over by Marvel-Atlas vets such as Bill Everett and Marie Severin. I like both those artists, but have always found their work here to be a big stiff and uninspired. Likewise, the stories don't quite match the freshness of the early Strange adventures. In particular, there was a shift towards longer story arcs and to-be-continued issues, trying, I suppose, to match the epic grandeur of superhero books such as the "Fantastic Four," et al. However, the glory of Dr. Strange was that he was a hangover from the 1950s horror-genre days, and shorter stories suited him well. Also, this character was really Ditko's baby, and he brought a liveliness and zest to it that no one else was ever able to recapture. There's some fun stuff here, for sure, but the Marvel Bullpen was clearly straining itself trying to make the book become super-cosmic and boffo, although the results were sometimes more workmanlike and flat. Still, this is classic material and definitely requied reading for any student of the mystic arts... MAKE MINE MARVEL! (ReadThatAgain book reviews)
Vol. 1 of Marvel Masterworks Doctor Strange was a great example of the inexhaustible creativity of Steve Ditko.
Vol 2. contains only the remaining 5 stories that Steve Ditko drew and plotted before leaving Marvel Comics and his loss was very noticeable unfortunately. After Ditkos final 5 stories, Bill Everett picks up the tale of the Master of the Mystic Arts. Everett basically carries on with the tools that Ditko had left. Under Everetts tenure we do see the introduction of the rather entertaining and malevolent villainess "Umar". Everett's style wasn't particularly suited to Dr. Strange, and many of the characters seem to look very similar to SubMariner. Marie Severin and Dan Adkins are even weaker on this title. Trying to mimic the Ditko style but not succeeding very well. The art is adequate but not stunning.
One can look at the first 5 stories in this volume and see the difference for themselves. One of Ditkos greatest creations was "Eternity". In Ditkos last story in Strange Tales 146 entitled "The End At Last", we see two pages that show Ditko's genius. On pages 5. 6 for example, we see two full splash pages of Eternity and a mystical, dimension shattering explosion that is nothing short of beautiful and epic. Pages 7 and 8 are also very lovely examples of Ditkos final work on this series.
The stories that follow are blander and less imaginative. Denny O'Neil does the writing and it's obvious that he's not yet the talent that he would be later on things like Batman over at DC. However, I still must suggest this to Ditko fans and Dr. Strange fans as they are stories that continue the characters mythos.Read more ›
Dr. Strange finds himself in an intense battle against a group of sorcerers whom he manages to overcome. However, his greatest challenges lies ahead as his nemesis the Dread Dormammu returns. To include other would be conquerors will stand up to challenge him. -summary
This second volume of Marvel Masterworks Dr. Strange collects Strange Tales issues 142 - 168, and continues the rest of his shared stories with Nick Fury which took place between 1966 - 1968 across Marvel's title Strange Tales. After this series Dr. Strange would see his own title due to some popularity. For those who may not know, Nick Fury's stories are collected in his own Marvel Masterworks trade titled Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This second batch of stories may not be as good as the first volume but they're far away from bad, and they still maintain a great amount of entertainment through some imaginative writing. The stories this time around are also longer focusing on actual story arcs which is a good thing, because some of the individuals Dr. Strange is forced to battle are indeed some tough customers, and through so much build up it would be quite lame for bit-sized stories.
Now one thing to point out is that these stories were written by a plethora of writers such as Steve Ditko, Marie Severin, and even Dennis O' Neil. Dr. Strange's titles weren't looked at in the same favorable light as Spider-Man, Hulk, or Thor for example. Therefore his Strange Tales title was like a testing ground for writers. Despite this revolving door of writers; I found a good enough consistency between the stories.