The issues of Strange Tales that furnish the contents of this reprint volume were published in 1966-1968. They begin with Steve Ditko art, which — alas! — soon vanishes. I am not a fan of the corny style of Bill Everett, although Marie Severin’s work on the title was passable.
The writing throughout is mostly from Stan Lee, and it is bombastic and ridiculous. I rather liked the multi-issue Roy Thomas / Stan Lee plotline that might have been titled “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.” The world is imperiled by some mystic menace, so Doctor Strange must unleash an even greater one to keep it at bay: rinse, cycle, and repeat. Also good for laughs are the later numbers written by Jim Lawrence. They feature Strange’s unmotivated quasi-romantic championing of the miscellaneous Victoria Bentley, to say nothing of her being arbitrarily chosen for extraterrestrial ravishment by Yandroth, Lord of Technology!
Reading back over this early material leaves me impressed with just how far the comic book representations of occultism have come in my lifetime. Granted, Doctor Strange is nowhere near the leading edge of them these days, but he was then! [via]
This fourth collection of Doctor Strange comics in the Marvel Masterworks series covers the period of my own infancy to first literacy, as well as some of my very favorite early adventures of the comic book magus. This 1969-1973 span includes the cease of the original Doctor Strange (nee Strange Tales) title, key appearances in such other Marvel mainstay books as The Incredible Hulk, and the Master of the Mystic Arts’ domination of the early issues of Marvel Premiere. It also coincides with the end of the period where Strange wore a mask and worried about having a “secret identity.” (As an element of working out this aspect, the omnipotent Eternity made the sorcerer into a Pooh bear, living under the name of Sanders.)
There is a truly awesome variety of art talent included here. P. Craig Russell, Frank Brunner, and Barry Windsor-Smith are all before their respective primes, but it’s a delight to have their distinctive styles applied to this character. Gene Colan offers some groundbreaking art that would define Doctor Strange as much as any artist since Steve Ditko. Writing on the end of the superheroic secret identity arc comes from Roy Thomas, but the later Marvel Premiere run features an elaborate Lovecraftian pastiche kicked off by Archie Goodwin and further developed by F. Gardner Fox.
I own most of these comics in their original issues, but I’m very pleased to have them also collected in this high-quality reprint volume. [via]
The turn-of-the-millennium short series collected in this volume is pretty standard Invisibles-type fare from Morrison: alienated, paranoid, psychedelic science fiction, with sex-fetishist costuming. It’s put together in a neat package here, and tucked into a convenient corner of the “Marvel Universe.” The shipwrecked starfaring (Kree) protagonist Noh-Varr has for his chief nemesis Doctor Midas, a sort of evil Gold Man who is basically a socio-moral inversion of Tony Stark (paternal rather than filial, covert rather than celebrity). I especially appreciated the clever insertion of the Mindless Ones of the Dark Dimension (of Doctor Strange lore) as a connection to the Marvel story continuity.
Morrison’s professed objective in this book was to distill an adolescent power fantasy, and he seems to have realized it well enough. J.G. Jones provides excellent, highly cinematic artwork that does full justice to the story. Appended to this collection of issues 1-6, the book also includes alternate cover art, design sketches, and a Marvel superhero dossier page for Noh-Varr. [via]