Doctor Strange #9

dr-strange-9I took a glimpse back into Marvel of the 1970s (August 1975 to be exact) when I read Doctor Strange #9. We’re joined in progress in this story, as the evil otherworldly sorcerer Dormammu has not only managed to claim the powers of the Earth spirit Gaea but has entered our realm by showing up in Arizona.  It’s up to Doctor Strange and his other wizard friends to stop Dormammu from destroying everything.

This part of the story I get, but the rest of Steve Englehart’s plot gets a little confusing mostly because I’ve never really been into Doc Strange’s books. Dormammu has been getting help in this latest scheme by Umar, his twin sister. Thankfully for her, they’re not identical.

A major plot point is then revealed by Orini (a mystic who should be the ruler of the Dark Dimension, but his throne was forcefully taken by Dormammu). Orini is around because he is the father of Clea, who just happens to be Strange’s girlfriend. Got that? It gets a lot more confusing right now. Orini reveals to his daughter the true identity of her mother: Umar.

Umar then steals Dormammu’s power, leading to daughter Clea rebelling against her mother by freeing Gaea and sending her parents and Uncle Dormammu back to the Dark Dimension. After reading this I thought my head was going to explode.

It wasn’t that it was poorly written. The art was by Gene Colan who is great on these kinds of stories. But the problem was there were too many characters to be introduced to at once, let alone that they all had similar sounding names. And if that’s going to be your first encounter with a story, it never ends well.

There was an interesting bit of trivia that I learned from this issue though. The letterer was Karen Mantlo, the then-wife to Bill Mantlo.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#4 Jack Kirby in the 1970s

I don’t care about disco; the 1970s were Jack Kirby’s decade. If he cut his teeth in the industry in the 1940s and perfected the art form during the 1960s, the 1970s is when Kirby reinvented the super hero genre.

Starting with the “Fourth World” family of titles–New Gods, Mr. Miracle, Forever People and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen–Kirby started telling cosmic epics with amazing art to boot. From there he went on to the one man army corps OMAC, the post apocalyptic Kamandi and the ridiculously underrated demon Etrigan.

His art during this period was just stellar; it looked like nothing ever done before in comics. He experimented with not only photostat collages but with the infamous “kirby krackes”.

Eventually Kirby returned to Marvel where he kept up the cosmic storytelling, with the equally-as-good-as the Fourth World series the Eternals. His Machine Man and Devil Dinosaur are often overlooked awesome books.He took this cosmic storytelling to more Earth-bound books like Captain America and Black Panther.