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Marvel Masterworks #23

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange, Vol. 1

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Master of the Mystic Arts, a sorcerer supreme, a white knight who wields black magic against blacker villains. Doctor Strange is mankind's only hope against the dark other-worldly forces that conspire to steal the life of the conscious world - forces such as Baron Mordo, the Dread Dormammu, Nightmare, Aggamon, The House of Shadows, Loki, the Mindless Ones, and more. Collects Strange Tales #110-111, 114-141

270 pages, Hardcover

First published February 1, 1966

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About the author

Stan Lee

6,821 books2,152 followers
Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) was an American writer, editor, creator of comic book superheroes, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics.

With several artist co-creators, most notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor as a superhero, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scarlet Witch, The Inhumans, and many other characters, introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. He subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
May 4, 2020
4.5 stars

And excellent older comic, and much more fun to read than I expected!


I'd be lying if I said the upcoming movie wasn't a huge factor in my finally getting around to reading this one. I'm not big on reading original (old) comics, because they just aren't usually all that good. Sorry, but that's how I feel. Especially if you're hoping for a dialogue that resembles something spoken real humans. But I put aside my prejudices in order to find out THE ORIGINS OF DOCTOR STRANGE.


Besides, he's been one of my favorite (underused) characters in the Marvel universe for quite some time now. The only problem was, I'd had a really hard time finding anything (written recently) with him as the title character. And it was hit-or-miss quality when I did find solo Strange titles.
It looked like it was Go Old, or Go Home.


Dr. Strange #1 appeared in Marvel's Strange Tales in 1968. And he was born fully formed. Yeah, they don't even bother with an origin story until a few issues into it. And when they do, it's a short one.







Thank you, Ma'am!




Still, and I really mean this, it was cool.
Now, there's not really any sort of story arc going on in these. They are (at the beginning anyway) one-shot tales for young readers who were partial to supernatural stories.
Doctor Strange's arch nemesis, Baron Mordo, becomes a recurring villain, and towards the end of the volume they duke it out over several issues.
Thrilling stuff! <--sarcasm


Ok, so it wasn't all that thrilling, but it was unbelievably readable! If you don't believe me, you can ask my 13 year old son , who was reading it along with me. He's not one of those kids who love to read sooooo much that he'll just devour anything, either. So if it was good enough to hold his attention, then it was better than the average old comic.


This really doesn't have anything to do with the actual comic, but it was a fun part of reading it, so bear with me...
I read this over the summer, so for a few weeks I took it to the pool with me as my I'm not really watching the kids, but I'm technically watching the kids book. So, I'd be sitting out there with my other Mom Friends, and I'd wait till it was nice n' quiet at our table. Heh. They'd either be reading a book or playing on their phone, and I would bust out in my deepest voice with whatever I happened to be reading at the time.
It was, I swear, the most entertaining part of my day. <--don't judge!
They would all kinda do that little snort/jump thing, and then give me a dirty look, followed by some sort of creative threat to my person.
One more fucking time, Anne. One! And I swear to God I'm going to shove that stupid shit right up your ass! Then I'm going to hold your head underwater till you're so dead, even that fucking wizard couldn't bring you back to life! Jesus. What a geek!
Ah, good times...

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
July 15, 2016
Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange contains the Doctor Strange stories from Strange Tales #110-111, 114-141 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Since there's a Doctor Strange movie in the works starring Benedict Cumberbatch, I decided it was time to read the original Doctor Strange stories, since most of my previous Doctor Strange exposure was from the 1990s Doctor Strange series and the various times he guest starred in other titles.

For those of us who don't know, Doctor Strange was an uncaring, egotistical surgeon until a car accident damaged the nerves in his hands, leaving him unable to perform further operations. A distraught Doctor Strange makes his way to the Himalayas and meets the Ancient One, his first step toward redemption and his role of Sorcerer Supreme.

Most of these stories are only 8-10 pages long and, by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, are they formulaic. The template goes as follows: A foe of Doctor Strange's, usually Baron Mordo, hatches a scheme. Doctor Strange assumes his ectoplasmic form and uses his amulet to save the day. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The book really shines once Strange is given more pages and Ditko settles into his rhythm. It's very interesting to see Ditko's art evolve as the series progresses. The stories become more and more complex, spanning over a year of issues. The story that beings with the The Defeat of Doctor Strange and evolves into the quest for Eternity must have been something to read as the monthly installments trickled out.

A lot of key elements of the Doctor Strange mythos are introduced, namely Doctor Stephen Strange, Baron Mordo, The Ancient One, Dormammu, and Clea, although she doesn't yet have a name in this volume. This is a 50 year old comic so I'm unable to judge it by today's standards. Stan Lee's writing is pretty hokey, though I love his repeated mentions of Hoggoth, Raggador, Cyttorak, and Dormammu. The Dread Dormammu, in particular, because he eventually becomes Doctor Strange's main foe.

The art pretty sweet, though. Steve Ditko depicts the various realms is blazing, psychedelic form. I can totally see why these stories are so well-regarded art wise. The Mindless Ones and the Dread Dormammu are very cool and the otherworldly landscapes are truly something to behold, a crazy panorama of vivid colors and bizarre shapes.

For its place in comics history, the crazy concepts, and the psychedelic Ditko art, I'm giving this four out of five stars. The Stan Lee writing isn't without its charms in a Silver Age kind of way but has definitely not stood the test of time and I'd grade the collection much harder if I took that under consideration.

Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,209 reviews791 followers
July 7, 2017

Maybe Ditko's psychedelic artworks and "Smiling" Stan Lee's talkative dialogues aged not much well, but I really had a lot of fun reading and re-reading again these classic adventures of Dr Strange, his origins, first meeting with beloved Clea and an almost unending series of fights against overpowered foes like Mordo, Nightmare, Dormammu and Loki, with the good Doc struggling and triumphing against all odds.
An evergreen classic origin hero volume, a must read for old and new fans of Doctor Strange.

Profile Image for Still.
576 reviews85 followers
June 8, 2022
Read this a few years ago. Five stars for Ditko art. Script is nonsense at times.
Profile Image for Forrest.
Author 43 books738 followers
May 30, 2016
As a child back in the '70s, I couldn't get enough Doctor Strange. Steve Ditko's psychedelic dimensions, along with the restrained majesty of the doctor himself, enwrapped me in imaginary worlds that my child-mind had never even considered before. My life since then has been a series of attempts, through various means, to kick my perception of reality into other, more interesting realms, whether through writing, roleplaying, or (earlier in life) psychoactive substances. I gave up the drugs and alcohol a long, long time ago, but I admit to hanging upside down to get a different view of a place, or spinning around in circles until I'm dizzy, then watching the sky as my senses try to catch up again, to real-time. Yes, even now.

So I was hoping for the same thing, the same sense-reeling sweet confusion that had so effectively introduced me to meta-realities as a youth. But I forgot that when I entered the fray of understanding, in the early to mid-70s, Doctor Strange had been around for ten years already. The story, the character, and the comic had already evolved for ten years from the earliest works.

And those early stories really, really sucked.

It's only about halfway through this volume that Stan Lee does anything of substance, and even then it's a hackneyed, derivative work based on pulp sorcery fantasies of earlier decades, but without the nuance and panache of, say, Clark Ashton Smith or Jack Vance. That said, though the story is awful, the visuals, while restrained, at first, by the very nature of their setting, become something spectacular once we are introduced to the bizarre dimensions of Strange's enemies: Nightmare, Tiboro and The Dread Dormammu. Then we see what I remember: Alternate realities that have little to do with our own, which became a hallmark of subsequent appearances of Doctor Strange.

Now I think I need to read the later volumes and leave the origin story to the movies. I sincerely hope they can do a better job in that medium. I have high hopes!
Profile Image for Sophia.
2,051 reviews201 followers
February 21, 2021
I really enjoyed reading the early adventures of Dr Strange!
I noticed these comics are slightly different than other Marvel comics. These stories see the hero beaten and downtrodden, weak and on the run. Basically, making them more complex and interesting!
I didn't read every comic in this book but I did read the majority and they were really well-written. The drawings were amazing, showing us different worlds and magic spells!
Overall, I really enjoyed these stories; they made me hungry for more Dr Strange and his world of magic and mystery!
Profile Image for Forrest.
Author 4 books7 followers
July 20, 2016
Like many (most? all?) American boys, I went through a comic book phase in my early teens, indulging my fantasies through the perusal of four-color panels on cheap paper. But while all my friends were following Batman and the X-Men, I sought out smaller, more esoteric titles. You know... the really nerdy ones. And my favorite of all was Doctor Strange, the occult superhero with the crazy cape who defended humanity from black magic and extra-dimensional invaders.

Doctor Strange didn't have huge muscles. He never said it was "clobberin' time" or called people "Bub." He won his battles through superior knowledge and quick thinking while spouting cryptic lines like: "By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth! In the name of the eternal Vishanti! BEGONE!" Silly, yes, but just my kind of silly. So when I heard Marvel Comics had reissued the Sorcerer Supreme's earliest adventures in a trade paperback format, I jumped at the chance to relive a slice of childhood while learning the origins of a beloved character.

The stories collected here first appeared in Marvel's "Strange Tales" series, beginning in 1963. This was a split book, with two or more characters sharing space in each issue ("Strange Tales" star attraction at the time of Doc's premiere in Issue 110 was the Human Torch, which gives you a sense of the book's rather lowly status). So the first stories are strictly filler, and they're pretty rough going, with inventive but simplistic plots, cookie-cutter villains and tight panels crammed nine to a page.

But after about a year of this, something remarkable happens. The stories become longer, growing from a scant five pages to a more satisfying ten, then making the leap to multi-issue story arcs. The panels grow larger, allowing artist Steve Ditko room to elaborate. And boy does he take advantage, filling his scenes with the hallucinogenic landscapes, brooding statues, and weird arcs of crackling mystic power he could only hint at before. Writer Stan Lee keeps pace with Ditko's evolving strangeness, giving his (in)famous purple prose free reign as the plots become ever more intricate and interconnected.

Things really take off with Issue 130, located just past the halfway mark of this volume, and marking the start of a sprawling narrative that spans the next eleven episodes. As his mentor, the mysterious Ancient One, lies broken and comatose in a Tibetan cave, Doctor Strange must face an alliance of his two greatest enemies: the evil magician Baron Mordo and the Dread Dormammu, a truly unsettling entity with flaming vapors for a head. Their battle rages across the dimensions, leading Strange to an encounter with Eternity, a cosmic character unlike any which had appeared in comics up to that time. It's a grand achievement that presaged many of the epic sagas that came to define later comics, and it's a cracking read to boot.

The collection ends on a cliffhanger, and Volume 2 is not yet available in paperback. But I was left as thoroughly entranced as one of Mordo's mindless minions, happy as a teenage comic fan and hungry for more. May the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto shine forever upon these landmark adventures of the Sorcerer Supreme!
Profile Image for Evan Leach.
462 reviews143 followers
June 10, 2013
This collection contains the first 33 Doctor Strange stories, originally published from 1963-1966. Strange was Marvel’s attempt to branch out from the world of superheroes to the world of the occult (although the two occasionally intersected). Story wise, things got off to a bit of a rocky start for the good doctor. Stan Lee was still finding his way with the character in the early going, as Strange would either wander off on some random adventure or take on the odious Baron Mordo, the flunky magician who had trained under Strange’s mentor before turning to the dark side of the force. Fortunately, even when the plot fails to fire on all cylinders, there is some truly psychedelic art to take the edge off things…

img: Doctor Strange

Hey man, it was the ‘60s. People were experimenting with all kinds of things: mind-altering drugs, free love, even alternate dimensions with weird floating squiggles and silver-haired babes. The plot picks up in the second half of the collection, when the story gets more serialized as Strange’s mentor falls into a coma and the hapless Mordo somehow acquires a powerful demonic ally. But the art still takes pride of place – you can tell that Steve Ditko had a lot of fun with this series, and that he was possibly on LSD:

img: Doctor Strange 1

Daddy's flown across the ocean
Leaving just a memory
Snapshot in the family album
Daddy what else did you leave for me?
Daddy, what'd'ja leave behind for me?!?
All in all it was just a brick in the wall.
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.

While the series found its groove by the second half of the collection, the first half was rough enough to keep this out of three-star territory for me. But I really did enjoy the artwork, and if I ever revisit this volume I will do so with my Pink Floyd album in hand. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Rich Meyer.
Author 56 books56 followers
July 23, 2015
Let's start off by saying that the content of this book is FIVE STARS - We're talking Steve Ditko at the height of his creative abilities, with some of Stan Lee's best scripting. The angst of Spider-man isn't here (except for a tad of it in the story reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2), and instead we've got the most arcane and cosmic stories since the early days of Doctor Fate and Stardust the Super Wizard.

I've given this particular incarnation of the book - the newest printing from 2015 - three stars because of the many unforgivable and easily preventable coloring errors throughout the book. The colorist just didn't seem to care what they hell they were doing. That's a damn shame, given the scarcity of this book; I know if I had bought a copy of the first printing (which gray markets for $200-400) and it had the same abominable errors, I would have been incredibly annoyed.

This volume reprints all the Doctor Strange tales from Strange Tales, up until the climax of his hand-to-hand battle with the Dread Dormmammu. Doc's origin is here, as well as the first appearances of the Ancient One and Baron Mordo, and the unnamed denizen of the Dark Dimension who would later be known as Clea. Thor also makes a cameo, and there's Spider-Man joining the Master of the Mystic Arts for their first battle with Xandu.

If you like Ditko's work, like cosmic stories, or simply enjoy classic Marvel Comics, this is a great way to experience all of that. Just beware that the presentation is not as nearly as pristine as it should've been.
Profile Image for Himanshu Karmacharya.
944 reviews105 followers
January 18, 2020
This volume collects over 30 strange tales of the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. The early stories feel like a draft, with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko still figuring out how to complete the framework. The stories are average and the art barely eye catching. But as the stories progress, the readers can find a dramatic change in the writing and the art. The plot and characters become more interesting and cemented on the genre. Whereas, I believe the art is one of the best that Steve Ditko has ever done at the height of his creative career.
Profile Image for M..
Author 1 book16 followers
June 12, 2016
Since the movie will be released soon enough, I decided to read about Doctor Strange from the comics. There was no better place to start then the beginning itself! I shall review everything as they come into my mind because this was a really massive compilation and didn't have only one story arc. Well overall the plots were monotonous but that usually prevails in almost all comic books. Some characters were really cool like Dormammu while Baron Mordo was a bit lame. No wonder Dormammu became the main antagonist later. The Ancient One's character was really wonderful because he looked like a real badass when he defeated foes despite the fact that he looked so meek and frail. Ah! The character of Doctor Strange was really well presented. Before being the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange was a haughty surgeon. Then we all know what happened...there was an accident he could no longer perform surgeries so he decided to find a cure and hence found The Ancient One who saw good behind the pride. Long story short, despite being a good person now, there is still some arrogance in Doctor Strange. It is very subtle and is presented in a rather impressive way by Stan lee. And why not?? Doctor Strange is the only one capable of protecting Earth from other worldly forces! Anyway this was about Stan Lee. The art by Steve was extremely good. There is a clear evolution of the character in the compilation as Doctor Strange's appearance changes from dopey to rather magnificent and rather royal. Then the art of the other worlds which includes Dormmamus sketch was the best point of the comic. One must not forget that these comics are almost 3-4 decades old and the kind of art Steve does is literally out of that time. All being said, I don't give it a 5-star just because the plots were rather weak at some points and failed to capture my interest but overall I am really looking forward to the movie and the way it is going to depict the other worlds and Dormammu!
Profile Image for IriidaV.
201 reviews4 followers
March 3, 2022
Read via the Mighty Marvel Masterworks vol.1 plus scans of the original issues.

I'm genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed this - a good run of hokey magic and urban fantasy tales but the short nature of the stories really helped hold my attention every time I picked them back up. I was a complete sucker as a kid for Ditko's work on Spider-Man and he doesn't disappoint here either with a good range of moody and weird adventures.

The reprint volume's colours are a mixed bag with some issues replicating the originals' fairly faithfully and others being the usual garish, overly saturated pages of some of Marvel's weaker remasters. That mixed with the heavy glossy paper is a big minusfor me and detracts from the affordability of this older material.

Definitely a recommend if you enjoy Silver Age Marvel and the strange mysticism that comes with the genre but I'd maybe try out the first Dr Strange Epic Collection instead.
Profile Image for Hannah Givens.
1,773 reviews33 followers
November 23, 2017
The art is great fun, and I always love reading classic comics, my judgments are not as severe as they might be for something modern because part of the point is appreciating what was for its own sake. That said, this actually gets good. The first half or so was starting to get very repetitive -- Strange has literally one maneuver and it is to create an illusion of himself to fool the enemy into thinking they've won -- but just as I was thinking I might not bother reading any more, we embarked on a very long saga vs. Mordo and Dormammu combined, and I actually got invested and am super impressed with how the world slowly added layers and spun itself into a more complicated story using the simple elements that had already been introduced. This ends at a concluding point, but with plot threads left to chase, and I actually want to find the next volume and chase them.
Profile Image for Dan.
59 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2021
Obvious the start of Doctor Strange had to have some really good stuff to transition from a feature figure to it's own series, and these early issues do not disappoint. Incredible how consistent the origin and early material is with later material given all the retcons that happen in other comicbook characters.
Profile Image for Armand.
Author 3 books30 followers
April 20, 2014
After several years of avoiding them, I recently got back into comics, rereading James Robinson's amazing Starman series from the 90's. As I started to explore other possibilities, I gradually became obsessed with the idea of reading Dr. Strange. Back when I collected comics, I had never bought any Dr. Strange, so the character was – in many ways- new to me. I decided to start at the beginning, and I shelled out about $60 for this increasingly rare edition of Marvel Masterworks, Doctor Strange edition.

I have to admit that my take on Dr. Strange is not so different from many other reviewers. In a nutshell, I love the eye-popping, psychedelic art and the originality of the concept, but the stories are rote at worst and episodic at best. Of course, you have to take into account that this was also written a time when comics were made for kids (not 40-year-olds like me) and that people didn't read them all at once, but rather only once a month, so yes, the stories are not going to be particularly deep. But even in that context, Dr. Strange is a weak specimen. For example, I've read the old silver-age Spiderman comics from around the same time period, and they are a lot more lively, clever and engaging that Dr. Strange.

Most of the Dr. Strange stories are based on the same idea: some inter-dimensional bully shows up and tries to take over the world (or some part of the world) The only person who can stop him is Doctor Strange. A magical duel ensues! Usually the bad guy has more raw firepower than Dr. Strange, but the good doctor is always able to out-clever the them and triumph in the end. Almost all of the Dr. Strange adventures in this book are a variant of that same theme. What is never explained is why people who control whole entire dimensions (presumably as big as entire universes) feel so compelled to take over the tiny Earth, but that's a conundrum for another day.

The Doctor himself is a fairly one-dimensional guy. Outside of magic, he seems to have no relationships or complications. No love life, not even a funny friend to provide comic relief. So, other than having very cool powers, there isn't much going on there personality-wise.

Nevertheless, this collection has a saving grace which is the crazy artwork. As the Doctor travels through crazy dimensions, he wanders through a wonderland that is part pop-art, part Dali, part Dr. Suess and part Escher, and into this landscpae strides Dr. Strange resplendent in his purple robes and cape with a crazy gold-eye-amulet hanging around his neck. The art really pushes the outer limit of what can happen in a comic book, and for that alone you have to respect the book. In fact, in some ways, it fucntions better as a coffee table book than an actual graphic novel.

So it's a split decision. Art- Yes! Stories- ummm... not so much.
Profile Image for Drew.
38 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2011
This book, which compiles the first 30 or so Doctor Strange comics from the mid-1960s, was a lot of fun. All the stories were by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the pair that co-created Spider-Man. Lee's writing (as always) is completely ridiculous, but since this is a story about a sorcerer who uses catchphrases like "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!", it actually sort of balances out. Steve Ditko's art is great, and I loved all his weird surrealist drawings of other dimensions.

I also really liked that at least half the book was an ongoing story, unlike most of the comics of that era, where most stories were only 1 issue long. The main story starts with Dr. Stange's two most dangerous enemies, Baron Mordo (evil wizard) and Dormammu (evil godlike thing from another dimension), joining forces against him. Strange has to run to stay ahead of them while also looking for a way to save the life of The Ancient One, his mentor. It gets sort of repetitive in places, and most of the villains (pretty much all of them except Dormammu and Nightmare, really) are basically interchangeable, but even so I liked it a lot.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Dixon.
Author 4 books13 followers
September 10, 2023
Out the Window

In the early Sixties, not long after it was formed, I joined the Merry Marvel Marching Society (MMMS for short). Of course I did – I was an RFO (a Right Frantic One, as buyers of the monthly Marvel comics would now be known)!
Among the membership paraphernalia, the item that most sticks in my memory is a 33 1/3 rpm single-sided ‘floppy disc’ featuring the Voices of Marvel – that is, Stan Lee and the Bullpen clowning around. There are cameos from Fabulous Flo (Marvel’s Gal Friday) and Jack ‘King’ Kirby, while ‘wondrous’ Wally Wood gabbles away while pretending to suffer from ‘mike-fright.’
The artist who really did have ‘mike-fright’ and refused to take part was Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr Strange. So, he is introduced as causing a commotion by leaving abruptly:
‘Whoops! There he goes!’
‘Out the window again? You know, I’m beginning to think that he is Spider-Man.’
‘You mean he isn’t?’
As I increasingly immersed myself in the worlds created by my two favourite artists, it was easy for me to identify Kirby with noble heroes such as the Mighty Thor, while the gawkiness of Spider-Man and the spookiness of Dr Strange suggested that their creator was something of an oddball – which, by many accounts, he was, right down to his embracing the Objectivist philosophy of the extreme libertarian Ayn Rand. He apparently frequently clashed politically with Lee, who was more of a typical East Coast liberal. But what magic they created together! As Lee said of him (Amazing Spider-Man #9, cover dated February 1964): “One thing we always say about Steverino’s art” – did Ditko really like being called Steverino? – “It’s so far out, that it’s in!”
Spider-Man was introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) and would soon amass an array of weird super-villains such as Doctor Octopus, Mysterio and the Green Goblin. It was in the Letter Pages of Amazing Spider-Man #6 (November 1963) that Lee first mentions another of his and Ditko’s creations, “the ’ole Master of Black Magic” whom they apparently snuck into the back pages of the long-running Strange Tales magazine, hoping no-one would notice him, “so that we could turn out the stories without too much effort.” But the reaction to the character was far more favourable than they expected, and he would eventually take over the whole magazine.
But…black magic? In ‘The Origin of Dr Strange’ (Strange Tales #115, December 1963) he travels to India, to the mountain home of the Ancient One, to study “the long-dead mystic arts” – his mastery of “the secrets of black magic” enables him to battle its evil practitioners with their own weapons. Moreover, the entities invoked – the Vishanti, the dread Dormammu, the all-seeing Agamotto – appear to be morally neutral. They are powers which can be called upon for good or evil.
It was perhaps to avoid confusing the morals of its readers that Strange Tales #122 (July 1964) calls Dr Strange, on the cover, the Master of the Mystic Arts, while boasting, on the splash page of the story entitled ‘The World Beyond,’ that the doctor “has made black magic the most fascinating new subject in comicdom.” The World Beyond of the title is the dream-world, specifically that part of it ruled by the entity Nightmare; but there are many Worlds Beyond encountered by Dr Strange in the course of his adventures; and a clue to the underlying nature of these worlds is given by the doctor himself, when he declares, in ‘The Possessed’ (Strange Tales #118, March 1964): ‘There is no power greater than that which I possess…For mine is the basic power of the imagination…the gossamer thread of which dreams are woven.’
The power of the imagination – greater, it would appear, than any earthly power – derives from its intermediary position (at least according to esoteric cosmology) between Heaven and Earth, between the physical and the intelligible, between mind and matter, between (as Coleridge put it) the literal and the metaphorical. As the philosopher Henry Corbin has shown, the idea of the Imagination as its own place – an Interzone, an intermediate World Beyond – was explored by Islamic theosophers in the twelfth century, when the West was discovering the Grail Kingdom; and when King Arthur’s Britain was imagined as an adventurous realm full of marvels.
In the adventurous realms of the Marvel Universe, the world of magic is described (‘The Domain of the Dread Dormammu’: Strange Tales #126, November 1964) as “half-hidden between the real and the imaginary.” If an Objectivist such as Ditko, for whom Reason is the only Absolute, could bring such intermediate worlds out of hiding, it may be because, when he put a pencil between his fingers, he became, like any true artist, a channel for something more powerful than his rational mind: the same power as that wielded by Dr Strange, the magical power of the creative imagination, For although today we tend to dismiss the “imaginary” as “unreal,” there is another way of perceiving it: as an alternative reality, where we need only follow Ditko out the window to discover that marvels are real.
The great imaginative comics artist Jim Starlin expressed it perfectly when he wrote, on the splash page to Strange Tales #181 (August 1975): “This story is dedicated to Steve Ditko, who gave us all a different reality.”
Profile Image for Kenny.
866 reviews35 followers
October 11, 2015
It begins here.
Steve Ditko set the feel and visual tone of Dr. Strange. His rendition of Eternity changes the way we view the world. That alone is worth this tome.
Profile Image for Krzysztof Grabowski.
1,337 reviews2 followers
March 30, 2022
Jakiś czas temu na polskim rynku pojawił się kolejny tytuł z serii Marvel Limited, do czego podchodzę sceptycznie, bo za relatywnie spory pieniądz (coś koło 250 zł) dostajemy, takie powiedzmy, kolekcjonerki w twardej oprawie i większym formacie. "Przedwieczni" czekają na półce (chwała ci biblioteko), ale Wolverine'a i Havoka mam za sobą i nie była to lektura przyjemna (tylko dla oka).

Ten omawiany Strange jest jednak inny. W końcu mamy tu zbiór, w którym postać debiutuje i mowa tu o 1963 roku... to powinno pachnieć brzydko. Ale zachwyca mnie swoim urokiem, czy "przaśnością". Legenda Stana Lee jest absolutnie zasłużona. The Man i Ditko tworzą duet-petarda. I choć te rysunki są już archaiczne, to jak dobrze bawiłem się czytając ten zbiór. W dodatku mamy tu nieco zaburzoną strukturę zeszytów, bowiem są one króciutki. Bodajże 12 stron, ale to taki format, bo połowę wydania zajmowały jeszcze historie o Fantastycznej Czwórce.

Klasyczny Strange dopiero poznaje swoje moce. Mamy tu jego mentora, który pełni ważną rolę. Mamy wypadek i poszukiwanie rozwiązania na problem z rękami, który doprowadził Stephena do osiągnięcia wyższego wtajemniczenia w sztuki magiczne. Mamy wreszcie charakterystycznych dla tej postaci wrogów, którzy tu również debiutują. Widzimy więc Barona Mordo, któremu pomaga zza kulis sam Dormammu. Mamy też Nightmare'a, którego być może zobaczymy w nadchodzącym filmowych sequelu Doctora Strange'a. Jest tu sporo przeszkód, z którymi nasz heros sobie rodzi, zazwyczaj w bardzo sprytne sztuczki. A na deser pierwsze zatknięcie Strange'a ze Spider-manem.

Jestem zawładnięty tym czarem, jaki ten tytuł ma. I choć osobiście kupiłem sobie DUŻO tańsze angielskie wydanie, któremu braku kilku zeszytów, to w niczym nie umniejsza wielkości tej pozycji. Co do wydania z Marvel Limited, bo i takie 'obmacałem'. Jeżeli ktoś ma w ćwierć tysiąca w kieszeni i jest fanem Marvela, myślę że ten wybór będzie jak najbardziej trafny.

PS. (w tej cenie jestem w stanie kupić sobie nowe wydanie Arkham Horror lcg lub Blood Rage'a, także sorry Strange, wolę 'popykać' ze znajomymi)
Profile Image for Steve.
571 reviews9 followers
September 9, 2023
This book reprints all the Dr. Strange stories from his debut in Strange Tales #110 through issue #141, and throws in Spider-Man Annual #2 which was a team-up between the two Ditko super-heroes at Marvel.

Ditko's artwork and plotting abilities were at their zenith in this strip. He worked on it for five more issues after this book ends, which continues the story-line of the last twelve installments I read. That's a little frustrating, though I imagine I'll eventually get the next volume.

I had read almost all of these stories back when I was a teen - especially after I got a job in 1976, I spent a few years buying up as many back issues as I could, and I had previously read some in reprint form. This meant, however, that I had never read them in order of publication, which especially makes the epic story of Dr. Strange vs. Baron Mordo and the Dread Dormammu a lot more confusing.

It's also fun to see how the character developed over the three years Ditko was in charge. Early on, Dr. Strange was almost like a magician who helped normal people, someone not that far off from the mystery stories the book had published in the 50s. Although even then, the very first story had him going into a person's dreams to battle Nightmare, an oft-recurring enemy.

Slowly, more powers and abilities were added. Stan Lee seemingly came up with a new oath every month - the hoary host of Hoggoth, the Vapors of Valtorr, the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, the Awesome Eye of Agamotto. About 15 stories into the series, Ditko came up with Dormammu (and the un-named until much later Clea), and his artwork went into surrealistic bursts of wildness. For a while there, this was one of the greatest of all comic books, and it was a delight to revisit after all these years.
Profile Image for Gary Sassaman.
203 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2022
Marvel continues the reissuing of their Marvel Masterworks series in these affordable, kid-friendly, smaller volumes. This one features the earliest Doctor Strange stories from Strange Tales and includes issues #110, 111, and 112-129. It takes a while for Strange to catch on and even Stan Lee seems to be shocked at its appeal, constantly reminding readers that the new hero was “a far greater success than we had expected!” Maybe this is because Doctor Strange was created wholly by Steve Ditko. As Lee put it in a fanzine at the time: “Well, we have a new character in the works for Strange Tales, just a 5-page filler named Dr. Strange. Steve Ditko is gonna draw him. It has sort of a black magic theme. The first story is nothing great, but perhaps we can make something of him. ’Twas Steve’s idea.”

The first stories, five-page fillers, are nothing to write home about. With “The Origin of Doctor Strange” in ST #115, the hero finally starts to really take shape. Ditko’s quirky art certainly lends charm to the feature, but it isn’t until the story in Strange Tales #126, “The Domain of the Dread Dormammu!” that the artist goes full Ditko on the good Doctor, plunging the Master of the Mystic Arts into other dimensions, with trippy backgrounds that make you think ol’ Steve must have been smoking something at the time (he wasn’t). As the Marvel Universe coalesces and grows, Doctor Strange would become a benchmark for creativity and incredible art by Ditko. The second volume of MMMW: Doctor Strange should include the artist’s epic 17-part storyline that would mark the end of his run on the character. Even though I’ve read it a thousand times, I can’t wait to read it again.
July 14, 2017
When Dr. Strange was first created he wasn't big enough to carry his own comic and so found a home in what I would call a catch-all book called Strange Tales. Since he had to share page space, mainly with the Human Torch and the Ever Lovin' Thing, Strange's stories were restricted to 8-10 pages. On the plus side this meant it was very fast paced with no room for filler. On the downside this didn't allow for much variety in storytelling. There was a fixed formula of

The Villain: Behold, I am evil!

Dr. Strange: By the hoary hand of Hoggoth!

Doc wins the day.

By the time Stan Lee and company did get a 'To Be Continued' story line it went on for way, way too long. (In fact it doesn't end in this book.) And another thing, since I'm already bitching - in this way too long chase story there are at least two female characters who show up. These women have dialogue, these women have actions which affect Dr. Strange. What these women don't have are names. Really, Stan? You couldn't take two seconds to come up with a name for these characters? Alora. There's one. Xylbit5000. There's another. See? That didn't take long at all. What's your problem, Stan?

This is the second chance I've given Doctor Strange (third if you count the unimpressive movie) and we are just not clicking. It's not me, it's you and your inability to entertain me.
Profile Image for Mike.
679 reviews21 followers
June 15, 2018
I was thinking recently that I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange in the Avengers movies quite a bit, but didn't know a lot about the character's comics so here we are.

It's wild to me that this material follows on the heels of the first Spider-Man story by a year, because while those (IMO) have aged very well, the good doctor's first adventures have not. For all of the praise for Ditko's "psychedelic" style, there aren't really a lot of parts that wow me, and, well, Lee's writing doesn't do much either - what's Strange like as a person when he's not being a super-wizard? Why is a master of the mystic arts living in Greenwich Village? What do any of those weird things he says actually mean? Who knows! (I will reserve some praise here, art-wise, for the parts featuring Nightmare, who I guess is a sort of dream spirit? Ditko's design for him in the earlier stories is extremely creepy and weird, although it becomes more bland as time goes on.)

At the end of the day, this feels like 90% of older comics - long periods of time where not much happens followed by one or two issues that have something unusual/interesting going on. Probably not worth it except for diehards.
61 reviews
May 9, 2018
I loved Doctor Strange in the short-lived Strange Tales in the late '80s -- the one that split each issue with a Cloak and Dagger story. So, when I saw this collection offered as a free download with one of the Disney DVDs we bought, I snapped it up.

This is the original Doctor Strange comic run collected in one volume. The early issues are interesting, but also a series of one-shot adventures. Even so, the mystical dimensions that Ditko drew were fantastic and dynamic giving each story a conceptual depth beyond the basic plot. The last half of the book, however, showcases a 17-issue story line that really hangs together. In that story line, Strange is essentially stripped of his standard tools and has to go into hiding while, all the while, being hunted by human and demon henchmen of Domamu. Spider-Man makes an appearance in the last story arc of the book, which provides some welcome lightheartedness.

I will likely pick up Doctor Strange Masterworks, Vol. 2
Profile Image for Rocío.
409 reviews14 followers
July 19, 2022
Es larguísimo, contiene un montón de issues, pero al mismo tiempo es uno de los comics más ¿legibles? que tiene Marvel en esa época. Si me dabas un libro de Thor con esta misma cantidad de issues no te lo termino ni en pedo.

Al principio son cortos, se nota que están ahí para rellenar ya que las historias principales de Strange Tales, donde se publicaban estos comics, son protagonizadas por The Human Torch y luego se le suma The Thing. Pero a pesar de eso las historias son interesantes.

Al final hay todo un arco como de 10 issues de Strange peleando contra Mordo y Dormammu, teniendo que huir y esconderse. Fue un poco muy largo para mí gusto es un upgrade respecto a los primeros issues autoconclusivos.
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