Monday, December 31, 2012



Before 2012 came to a close, I wanted to showcase an art commission that I was hired to draw for an obvious Doctor Strange fan.

I was contacted by a young woman named Heather Oglevie (yes, I asked if she wanted me to use her name here) wherein she requested a piece of Doc and Clea dancing.

You really need to click on the pic to see it at all.
There are waaaaay too many details to be seen in the small image that fits in the blog. (and sadly, even the scan can't capture all the details and shading in the original drawing, so...)
If you REALLY want to see it BIG, then "right-click" & open in new tab or window.
Otherwise, a simple click will open all the pics in a blogger-slideshow big enough to see.

drawn in pencil (blue & graphite) on vellum-finish bristol board
typed URLs only appear in scan

This is the finished product, but perhaps, some of you may remember when I posted the following preliminary rough sketch [HERE], along with another commission drawing?

 11x17 VERY rough sketch

A few things were immediately noted for change (new dance poses, for instance), but a few ideas stuck around until the final piece.

Now, I could discuss and show you all the multiple stages of the redesign process here... BUT... I DO have an ART BLOG that is really the place where such things should be detailed.
So, I'll tease you with a few of the follow-up dance poses, and then send you to the link for the art blog post.

When the final product arrived, Heather replied that she was amazed, and that the scans did not do justice to the piece. Sadly, a scanner just could not capture all the nuanced detail and shaded tones.

She did take the time to digitally colorize one of those scans and I must say she did an amazing job!

So, if anyone wants to commission a piece of art by yours truly, it's quite obvious that I give a lot of serious thought to the process and always strive to deliver far more value than what the client pays.

Please check out the FULL artistic process over at my art blog - [HERE].

And, once there, you may be interested in seeing more, and some different styles and mediums of my work (children's book style art, book covers, and more), which can be seen on the Art Blog (which is in need of an update - and this is a pretty good reason to do so. A lot of the art there is old, but none of it sucks.) - [HERE]

See you all in 2013! 
I hope that I get more art commissions to share with you in the year to come!
May 2013 bring MAGIC to us all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

CHRISTMAS GIFTS (from the past)!
1998 Linens-N-Things catalog


In year's past, I've posted Christmas/Holiday entries ranging from showing Christmas covers for various comics [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], [HERE] & [HERE], or "humorous" little video vignettes featuring everyone's favorite Latverian Dictator [HERE], [HERE] & [HERE], a look into Doctor Strange's holiday traditions [HERE], or even a quaint holiday Tableau - a comic cover brought to "life" as it were [HERE]...

But this year, I thought I'd not only try to bring the blog back to its roots (as a way to showcase my assorted collection of weird and wonderful swag)... but while doing so, also stick with the Christmas/Holiday theme.

And so I present to you...


OK. I can hear you all scratching your heads and wondering just what this is doing in my collection of assorted Doctor Strange and "6-Dimensions"swag?

Well, as we flip through the pages of the many assorted gift items, and thumb our way to the MEN'S section - whist looking for cool gift ideas "for the man who practices the ART of living well" in your life...

...and while a cocktail shaker or a CD/wine rack or even a comfy green robe are in my'll also find a nifty looking book lamp.

BUT...if you take a look at the pile of comics to the right of the nifty book-lamp, you'll find that there's something "for the man who practices the MYSTIC ARTS of living well"... a well-read copy of MARVEL TEAM-UP (v.1) # 50, featuring Spider-Man teaming up with DOCTOR STRANGE!

A CLASSIC COVER by Gil Kane (pencils) and Dan Akins (inks)

Sure, there are also a copy of 'Marvel Holiday Special' from 1991 and an old comic featuring the Molten Man (a No-Prize for anyone who can identify the issue, since I didn't feel like doing the detective work this time), but the Marvel Team-Up issue is the real gift here!

And thus it was that Doctor Strange was subliminally introduced to the average American consumer  during the holiday season of 1998.

Also, I thought it was high time I posted this item since it was something that I mentioned in my VERY FIRST post on this blog [HERE].

And so I would like to take this time to wish EVERYONE... whether they celebrate CHRISTMAS, HANUKKAH, KWANZAA, RAMADAN, SATURNALIA or FESTIVUS... a HAPPY and HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON!

Friday, December 21, 2012



(posted at 12:21:12 PM)


Since this "End of the World" thing didn't pan out on the 12th (see that entry [HERE]), it's OBVIOUS that today will surely be..
I mean... how many times can it NOT happen?

Since, as ominous portents, possible interpretations of Mayan calendars, (and the guy on the street corner yelling to his shoes) are to be believed... today - the 21st day of the 12th month in this 12th year (of the 2nd millennium) - should bring about...

No. Seriously. THIS time for sure.

Or at the VERY least... the END of LIFE as we know it!

"Weep for the Soul of Man..."

But, just in case the Mayans (or the interpreters) weren't quite right, and the End of the World isn't in the offing, there will always be Do-Badders like Baron Mordo who are more than willing to help it along.

Arranged in a circular pattern (much like the Mayan Calendar) each of these mystic adepts (including Man-Thing and Jennifer Kale) would die, in turn, to open the GATES OF CHAOS -and thus cause...


No, really.
Here, let Mordo explain it.

This is for real.

NOTHING can save us now...

Oh. OK. DOCTOR STRANGE can save us.
That's good to know.

Although, really, it was a team effort, as Man-Thing had just as much to do with preventing the end of all there is as did Doc.

SO... I'm sure that WHATEVER dire cosmic threat seeks to cause...


... that DOC and MAN-THING will be around to make sure that we all are alive to see tomorrow.

Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts # 41

*UPDATED 12-22-12*
Stupid Mayans...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



I'm presented with a slight bit of a conundrum in this blog post.

For you see, there are any number of ways with which I can present my thoughts...

I could follow the path of published history and, while doing so, insist upon the old axiom that those who ignore it are destined - or more appropriately; are doomed - to repeat it.
(In fact, this post is a revisiting of an earlier post from when Doctor Strange first took up his black & red new costume [HERE])

I could also take the tack of a designer; whether graphic or more accurately; of fashion.

But since the points which I wish to make are varied, and circuitous, thus it's probably best that I just touch upon the switchpoints as they come, and let the train of thought follow the tracks that are laid.

And so...

Once upon a time…upon having bested Dormammu, the lord of dark magicks, in order to safeguard our world, the Ancient One did bequeath unto his pupil, Doctor Strange, a “new cloak, and a more wondrous amulet”, which he did wear thence for many years.

Ditko Designed. Ancient One Approved.

That is… until recent years, when he no longer felt worthy and forfeited them, along with the mantle of ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ to another – Doctor (Brother) Voodoo. 

(The fact is that neither Cloak of Levitation nor Eye of Agamotto were ever a badge of office, or a pre-requisite possession for only the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ – but many a modern Marvel writer and editor said it was to be so, and thus… it was. So, we won’t inquire why the new chosen Sorcerer Supreme never even wore the Cloak – and never properly utilized the Eye.)

As history has repeated itself, Stephen Strange has once again saved the world, this time by utilizing dark magicks, and as such had the Eye and Cloak bequeathed to him once again by his venerable Master. 

(Despite the fact that this was not the first time that nearly identical events had occurred - all without Strange's defeatist attitude, or the contradictory manner with which he regained his ability and title.)

What is important is that Doctor Strange is once again Sorcerer Supreme, and as such (for some reason that only Brian Bendis believes) he is able to once again wear the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto (which was supposedly destroyed... but... I'm not getting into that now either).

All this, while true, is not the point of the post... but what is the point is the trappings - the prizes bestowed - for Strange's return to prominence: The Cloak of Levitiation itself - and the Eye of Agamotto - as well as the garments worn beneath them.

Stephen Strange is returned to his proper station.

For you see, as of the end of Brian Bendis’ run on New Avengers, those powerful mystical artifacts have been returned to Stephen Strange. But not all is returned to the way it was… for in the interim, Doctor Strange had garnered a new look – stylish and different. Yet, now that the Cloak once again rests on his shoulders, the Eye residing at his throat, the dynamic between old and new styles leaves much to be desired.

If it were to be the Cloak, draping over the slightly looser-fitting black panels of his new garb, then I would be pleased – immensely. 

Doctor Strange's previous, most recent look.
Dashing, dynamic, decidedly different.

Unfortunately, Mike Deodato, the artist to render his newest look has instead turned Strange’s black costume into a standard superhero set of tights. Thus, all sense of magic and regal bearing is lost.

Much like the short-lived (and ill-advised) superhero suit Strange wore in 1969, this new look is a wrong-minded attempt to turn a sorcerer into a superman. A look which was similarly attempted again in the 1990's and again in the early 2000's... all to limited tenure, and a lack of interest.

Strange Superhero

What problem this also presents is that when the cloak isn’t being worn, Strange is basically standing around in long underwear that gives him a silhouette of a naked man. A body-stocking works well for some characters; Spider-Man for example, but the fact that in this modern version, Strange’s head is exposed and shows a man of no minor years wearing a form-fitting suit, so now he must be drawn overly muscled.

Were his black outfit to be the same one he wore earlier in the year (mostly in the DEFENDERS vol.4), looser-fitted, with the flowing “tails” extension that obscured much of his hips and legs, then it would be fine. That would give him a look that could stand alone without the cloak.
A look, very much like the one he wore in Neil Gaiman's '1602'.

Strange : 1602

This, much like Strange’s original outfit, with its billowing tunic and black leggings, the silhouette garnered would be balanced, the aesthetic, pleasing.

With or without the Cloak, Strange presented a commanding figure.

Oh, and don't get me started on the fact that while the black and red "Defenders" suit looked awesome, the round surrogate "Eye" belt-buckle was a confusing addition. This is made doubly-so now that Dr. Strange has regained the Eye of Agamotto - so that now the viewer's eye is drawn from one golden circle to the other; basically drawing your eyes to his crotch.

Don't believe me? Here... try not to look.

You're playing "Connect the dots" in your mind... aren't you?

Now, onto my biggest peeve about the redesign.

Designed by Steve Ditko, the Cloak of Levitation has always been more representative of a priest’s vestment; with gilded edging that leads up to the entire shoulder area and behind the back of the collar, just behind where the wearer’s head would be. All the rest remained a deep, rich, lustrous red.

advertisement teaser and a panel from Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa. art by Dan Green

Thus, it remained until artist (and Editor-in-Chief) Joe Quesada began changing the gilded areas of the collar.
First, he claimed the entirety of the back of the collar for the golden, gilded material…

Daredevil v2  #5

Next, he (and others) instead reversed the areas of gilt and red so that the band of golden edging now worked its way across the outermost ridge of the cloak’s collar.

This is the manner in which the Cloak of Levitation has been portrayed recently; from cover art, to video game design, this is seemingly the new arrangement.

But, dare I say it… it looks horrible.

Perhaps it is merely because I am used to the way it was designed and drawn for over 40 years, but I don’t think it’s merely that. I also dislike the loss of a priestly look that this new design dictates. For if the gold area is no longer across the lower head area behind the collar, then the broad shoulders must also lose their golden area, (sadly, something that many artists have already nullified over the years), since the headpiece was an extension of the shoulder-work.

I also dislike the imbalance the new look gives to the overall design of the cloak. With the exception of Gabrielle Del’Otto’s rendition of a “battle armor” type of look for Strange – wherein the golden edging on the cloak WORKED, as it made the sharp, edged horns of Strange’s cloak into gleaming golden daggers. A weapon all in itself. Form and function.

Mystic Warrior!

The collar-edging did have a precedent, however. In the 1990’s Strange did for a time forego wearing the Cloak, and instead adapted, first a "robe of levitation" and then a “trenchcoat of levitation” (interpolating some of the cloak’s edgework – and magic – into the new garment). These overcoats did have the golden edgework around the collar as well, but since there were no “horns” to draw attention, it worked. 

The same type of design was adapted into the Amalgam version of Doctor StrangeFate.

Thus we are brought to the modern age, and an artist; Steve Epting, who has drawn Doctor Strange in all his various forms; classic style, 1990’s metrosexual, 2010 plain-clothed mystic and now a hybridization of sorcerer and superhero.

So, while I did hope that he would render Doc with the proper overall design, I can see by the advance previews that with regards to the cloak at least, Steve Epting is following suit by whatever template was left by Mike Deodato at the end of New Avengers.

Look closely at panel 2. The top edge of the Cloak's cowl? Yeah... WRONG.

I can only hope that Epting has the sense not to draw Doc in a skin tight suit, but we can see that the variant cover by Dale Keown does indeed show him thus attired.

I can hope for a change. This new cloak design should best be seen as a design aberration, best deterred from with a return to the classic design of old, and the skin tight super suit should not be used for the master of the mystic arts.

Marshall Rogers totally grokked Doc.

The only thing assured about the repetition of history in comics - as well as the fickle nature of fashion - is that eventually... all things revert back to their original nature. So, it is with every hope that, in time... Ditko's original version will return.

Take a look at Dormammu’s “new” look (first seen in 2005's “Defenders” mini-series), and compare it with Strange’s “new” costume.

Don't forget to look at the initial design notes for Scarlet Witch’s new outfit.

Black and red, with a long, flowing “coattails” for each?
Coincidence? Maybe... Stylin'? You betcha!

Tamam Shud!

Saturday, December 15, 2012



Hello, Comic-apparel fans!

Once again, we go back to the very roots of this blog's original purpose and showcase some more swag from my Sanctum Sanctorum Comix collection.

This time we are adding to a series of posts originally begun back in October of 2009, wherein I catalogued my extensive collection of Doctor Strange (and related 6-Dimensions characters) apparel!
HATS! T-SHIRTS! TIES! and even SKIVVIES! (...psst... that's another term for underpants!) .

Today, I have an EXCITING garment announcement to add to this series!

With the backlog of stuff I've been doing around here, these shirts have been arriving here to the Sanctum, one in every month or so, but I am going to shunt the others to a later blog entry so as to give this one a special showcase all of its own.

So let's go!



Today's installment is an awesome new addition to the
- part 2 : SOLO APPEARANCE T-SHIRTS post. 

Well... I say "new addition", but that's not quite true, since I had blogged all about it as a "dream" item, in the main article.

I'll tell you what... I'll post the previous entry here and then immediately following, will post the updated announcement.
In that way, you'll have the full story and get the full effect of the addition of this item to the Sanctum Sanctorum Comix Collection.



[This next item] is something of a "dream" shirt.
Around 1997 or so, whilst flipping channels on the TV, I clicked past a rerun of 1975 - 1984 TV show "One Day At A Time". The show, starring Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli dealt with a single mother raising her two daughters while juggling career and life.

Not interested in the show, I continued flipping past.
However, JUST before the channel moved past the show, a scene with a young boy speaking to one of the female leads popped onto screen.

I could have sworn that the young actor was wearing a shirt that looked like it had the classic 1980's Dr. Strange comic logo on it!

As fast as I could, I tried to return to the show, but by that time, the scene was ended and the character was gone.

I've whipped up a quick mock-up to show you what I THINK I saw.

The color scheme of the logo might not be accurate in my comp, but it seemed to be THAT logo!
I have been searching for that shirt, or any clue to its existence ever since.
Over a decade has passed since I caught that fleeting glimpse, and not one lead has presented itself.

The show only has a DVD collection for the first season available, with no clue as to when or if the next 8 seasons will ever be released.
With NO idea as to what episode I had stumbled across, from which season, even if I was able to access someone's private collection, that is one hell of a daunting task.

Perhaps someone out there might be able to shed some light on this old mystery.

Either way, it is one of my personal "grail" items - one that I will seek for my collection, either until I find one, or prove that no such item ever existed.



While "The Quest" (as I've called it) for long-sought "Grail Items" can take many, many years, with dogged determination, insane detail-oriented search techniques and sometimes... the help of a good friend, the Quest can sometimes be fulfilled.

As it turns out, the shirt DID / DOES exist and not only that...

It's finally mine.

Featuring the classic DOCTOR STRANGE logo which emblazoned the covers of his title from 1974 - 1987, this is not only nearly exactly what I mocked-up in my earlier description, but also the only Dr. Strange shirt to feature this logo at all (wherein all others that DO utilize a logo oft opt for earlier - or later - logos; all inferior to this one).

I'm unsure of the licensee for this one. The label says it's a "Screen Stars" shirt, but Screen Stars were usually just the manufacturer of the blank shirts, and some other company would buy them in bulk and print on them for resale. Was Marvel still releasing their own wares in the mid-1980's?

As can be seen in the close-up / detail photo, the shirt has a copyright date of 1984 (and # 13 in the 1984 series of shirts).
That makes it only the 2nd official Doctor Strange shirt - preceded only by the classic Steve Ditko illustrated shirt from 1965.

It also helps to pinpoint some information about where I saw it - on the "One Day At A Time" tv show. Since the show was cancelled in 1984 - its 9th season, the episode wherein I saw it MUST be one of those final ones. Also helping to narrow it down a bit is that the full cast isn't even in some of those episodes. So, in time, I'll be able to find video of the show and - hopefully - put the clip here alongside the shirt.

To give proper credit where due - it is once again, by the good graces of dear friend, Howard Hallis, that this uber-rare Doctor Strange garment finds its way into the magical wardrobe in my Sanctum. (This is the third uber-rare shirt Howard has either kindly stepped aside to allow me to acquire or obtained for me;  the others were: the "Marvel Picnic" shirt, and the "Stussy" Dr. Strange shirt - both seen later in the "Solo Garments" post.
Howard... THANK YOU!)


If these wardrobe items interested you, then don't forget to check out the IMMENSE collection of many more which I featured in this series:

Previous parts of the

- part 1 : CAPS and TIES : [HERE]
- part 5 : "THE END" of GARMENTS  : [HERE]

and for the completists out there:
- Supplemental Entry # 1 : [HERE]
- Supplemental Entry # 2 : [HERE]
- Supplemental Entry # 3 : [HERE]
- Supplemental Entry # 4 : [HERE]
(but as this entry will be, all Supplemental Entries have been pasted into the main entries.)


"Tamam Shud!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



(posted at 12:12 AM)

If ominous portents, possible interpretations of Mayan calendars, (and my "Magic 8-ball") are to be believed... today - the 12th day of the 12th month in this 12th year (of the 2nd millennium) - could bring about...

So, I thought it appropriate to bump the post that had been planned for last weekend, this past weekend, today to display the 12th issue covers for DOCTOR STRANGE comics and how they, too, predict DOOMSDAY!

Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 12
art by Gene Colan

An AWESOME tale that quite literally brought about the END OF THE WORLD... well...
until Doctor Strange fixed it all.


But... just in case the END of all there is might NOT be the result of today, it might be better to showcase this issue (the 12th of his first series - since his first issue was numbered # 169), wherein Dr. Strange meets.... ETERNITY!
If there is anything that is the opposite of the END of everything... it's ETERNITY!
(Although, oddly enough, Eternity is the one who helped re-create the world after it was destroyed in the storyline detailed above...hmmm...).

Gene Colan Doc illo over a Steve Ditko Eternity illo over a photo of NYC


And just for the heck of it (since there ARE three "12's" in the date, I'll show a third # 12 and the dire fate that befell Doctor Strange therein.

The 12th issue of Doctor Strange; Sorcerer Supreme saw Doc about to lose his head over the Enchantress...
Amara; the Enchantress? Hmmm.... well.... there are worse fates.

Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme # 12
art by Jackson "Butch" Guice

DEATH, LIFE and ... LOVE; which oft strides the fine line betwixt the two.


Strange Tales v1 # 123
What was essentially Doctor Strange's 12th issue of Strange Tales


So that's all there is...
if the world ends some time today... it's been a good time.
If for some reason the world is still spinning on the 13th, I'll post something new thereafter, and we'll try this whole "End of the World" deal all over again on the 21st.

Thursday, November 29, 2012



NEW AVENGERS (v.2) # 34

BENDIS – story
RAIN BEREDO – colors


Be sure to read the reviews of the previous three issues in this arc:
Issue # 31 [HERE]
Issue # 32 [HERE]
Issue # 33 [HERE]

For those who like quick, spoiler-free, to-the-point reviews, I’ll post here what I tweeted about my take on reading New Avengers v.2 # 34:

"I read #NewAvengers 34. Bendis' #DoctorStrange arc wrap up. Some good, some bad, some BAD!, a few F*@% YEAH's & PLOT HOLES aplenty."

That sums it up nicely.

However, for those who like their reviews slightly more in-depth (and spoilery)… read on.




Ostensibly, with the imperative of wrapping up the loose ends involved with the current story arc (and hopefully also doing so for the dangling plot-lines left over from the previous arcs dealing with Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo, Agamotto [and his All-Seeing Eye] and the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme) Brian Michael Bendis produced the script for this issue, wherein Daniel Drumm (Brother Voodoo) seeks the demise of Doctor Strange and the Avengers in retaliation for the death of his brother, Jericho (Doctor Voodoo) Drumm.
It is interesting to note, that in a title called “Avengers”, everyone in this story, not just the heroes, but the villain as well, is trying to avenge someone’s death.

As we saw in the first three issues in this arc, Daniel attacked and seemingly killed both Daimon (Son of Satan) Hellstrom and Jennifer (sorceress, friend of Man-Thing and inheritor of the magic of Zhered-Na)  Kale before turning his attentions to the New Avengers – and Dr. Strange.
Using his ability to possess the bodies of the living, Daniel hopped from one Avenger’s body to the next in split-second exchanges, in order to confuse and sew destruction. He also utilized his abilities to traverse the astral realms, and in so doing, brought about the death of Victoria Hand.

This final issue (both of the story arc, as well as of Brian Michael Bendis’ tenure on the franchise) is all about the final battle of Daniel Drumm (and in essence, due to his body-snatching ability: the entirety of the Avengers) vs Doctor Strange – to the death.

Starting where last issue left off, this issue begins with Strange manifesting among the Avengers, who are being trounced by Daniel Drumm’s body-hopping, hit-and-run combat technique.

However, Bendis immediately forgets the parameters of Daniel Drumm’s powers and has artist Mike Deodato draw the entire Avengers line-up standing against Strange, en masse, when Daniel is only able to possess ONE at a time. Even at split-second body-jumps, he can’t realistically control all the members of both teams simultaneously.
That said, it doesn’t stop the double-page spread, drawn by Deodato, from being 100% filled with F*@% YEAH awesomeness. The implied upcoming ass-kickery is truly exciting.
Also of illustrative excellence is the following page wherein Doctor Strange, dynamically foreshortened, in mystical prestidigitation mode, talks smack and (with the exception of Thor) nullifies the threat posed by these possessed aggressors by wrapping them in the Crimson bands of Cytorrak. Thor however, manages to break them all free with enchanted lightning summoned forth by Mjolnir.

What come next are several pages of battle; but it seems that the reader is the one who feels the most pain from the altercations, as each of the next 6 pages are drawn by a different artist in a “jam session” of conflicting and jarring styles.  Most of these artists (predominantly “indie” illustrators) are either not ready for prime-time, or were the improper choices for a series of scenes as dynamic as these should have been. With the exception of two pages, by Farel Dalrymple and Becky Cloonan, which were nice to look at but were simply the wrong tone for the book, the rest of these jam pages were cartoony and amateurish, and absolutely TORE me from the story and ruined what could have been an epic battle sequence.
However, even therein is something positive about them, as it was very interesting to see some of these artists, who otherwise seem uninitiated to how Dr. Strange's abilities work, bestow upon him some nifty new tricks. Perhaps my favorite new power being Lucy Knisley's portrayal of Strange's spoken spell being shown visually, granting Strange the ability to totally dominate Captain America, effortlessly bringing the super soldier to his knees.

Unfortunately, experimental art aside, Bendis didn’t do much to help things along much either, as it seemed evident that his story needed to wrap up, post haste, and so he chose a truly curious stratagem –  OUROBOROS LOGIC; A.K.A: the PLOT HOLE (or more accurately one of a series of plot holes, not first and foremost, the total disregard of his own [and others’] previous written work)!

The whole contradictory, circuitous logic of the plot resolution deals with the use of dark magic.

Daniel Drumm sought to kill sorcerers who were using dark magicks, since only they would have the true power to defeat him. Strange, ever a wielder of “white” magicks states in the story that “when [he] was Sorcerer Supreme [he] would NEVER EVER use the dark arts.”  Yet, the story-driven reason for Strange giving up the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme was because he did not feel worthy of it – due to his actually using the dark arts - to combat the Hulk during the “World War Hulk” debacle. (This is ignoring the fact that Strange HAD USED the dark arts even prior to that - during the entirety of the 2nd volume of ‘Strange Tales’ - out of necessity. But we’ve long known Bendis doesn’t read [or care about] what comics were written before his).

So, in order to defeat Daniel Drumm (who is in essence using forms of voodoo and necromancy – a dark magic), Doctor Strange must resort to using dark magic, and essentially dissipates Drumm’s spirit into nothingness by utilizing “Zhadana Spell of Astral Form Destruction – from the Scrolls of Damnation!


Thus we find that once again (for the third major time for those counting [not including some other minor instances of same]) that when in absolute need, Doctor Strange WILL pull out the black magic cannon.

So, let me see if I understand Bendis’ entire plot resolution to the scenario that he himself put in place: Doc uses dark magic to combat a dire threat, and thus can no longer be Sorcerer Supreme,  is... to have Doc use dark magic to combat a dire threat in order to RECLAIM the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme?

OK. Gotcha.

And to wrap it all up, Bendis uses another plot hole but merges it with a “Deus ex machina” solution. (Ironic in that the very reason for Doctor Strange’s “demotion” from the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme and power loss being a direct result of editorial edict that HE was too much of a “Deus ex machina” – and thus proving the point that I have always stated; it’s not the fault of a character who is used as a “D.e.M” but the poor author who writes himself into a corner and thus has need of one.)

During the battle between Strange and Drumm, we saw Daimon Hellstrom (seemingly alive and well, in a void) speaking to someone off-panel about how all this is a test, and that there needs to be a Sorcerer Supreme. That someone..?


I’ve long been one to call for a return of the Ancient One, in some capacity, to Doctor Strange’s supporting cast, and while I was happy in some way to see him “in the flesh”, it also struck me as wrong.
First, it seemed inherently incongruous that this ancient master, steeped in myth and legend (and since dying having become “one with all”) would be able to be seen by such “mere” mortals as the Avengers. It would have been best if he were only visible to Strange. His standing in the presence of such colorfully attired super-heroes somehow reduces the Ancient One’s status. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Still, aside from my own personal “feeling” about it is the story-driven fact that it makes little sense.
Remember back in issues # 1 – 6, when the spirit of the Ancient One was the one who stated that Strange was a failure and no good and blah-blah-blabbity-blah, and was in league with “Agamotto” in his efforts to defeat Strange and claim the Eye of Agamotto for whatever purpose? (Seriously, it’s complicated. Just go read my in-depth analysis of that arc [HERE]) Well… with ZERO mention of that whole event, the Ancient One just shows up and deems Strange fit to be Sorcerer Supreme and bequeaths once again to him the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto.

But wait…uh…wasn’t the Eye destroyed? Doc sure thought so (and so, by extension, did we). So why is it no explanation is offered?
OK fine, Doctor Strange once again is in possession of the Eye of Agamotto…
Oh, but wait… isn’t Agamotto dead? Depending on which origin of the EYE you follow, it might not even work at all without Agamotto to empower it.
Oh, wait. I know… the answer is so simple. It’s BENDIS!

Still, Bendis continued to do one thing right... he has Stephen Strange THINK (and research) his way to a solution (albeit, off-panel).

And I do need to allow for the admission that seeing Doctor Strange standing triumphant with his talismans, once again the Sorcerer Supreme was indeed a totally F*@% YEAH moment! (and possibly worth the self-lobotomizing required to take all this at face value.)

While my overall thoughts for this story arc are positive ones, there are some disappointments:

The least of which is simply of a cover design –to- story ratio. The quadtych cover should have had Doctor Strange on the cover for # 34 as opposed to # 31. It’s his wrap-up, after all. Iron Fist featured fairly large in issue # 31, so swapping the two characters’ positions in the artwork would have been best – building to the crescendo of the Doctor Strange finale’. But that’s a very minor nit that only an obsessive-compulsive/anal-retentive, art-nerd like myself would note.

Mike Deodato's quadtych artwork for the covers of
NEW AVENGERS v2 # 31, 32, 33 34

One disappointment with the story is that Jericho (Doctor Voodoo) Drumm did not make an appearance. His tale, now, it seems, has been writ. But there is no way I can believe (nor Fred Hembeck, I’m sure) that it was meant to stay as it is, with Voodoo dead. I don’t doubt that the editors in charge had Voodoo’s name on as list of “characters you can kill off”. Heck… Hawkeye was on that list (remember his death in the “Disassembled” arc “NOT LIKE THIS!”) Well, Voodoo has never been popular, and yet… they were actually doing it. Jericho Drumm was growing as a character!

Jericho Drumm as ‘Doctor Voodoo’ was finally a chance at doing right by the character. Bendis treated him fairly well in his early dealings with the character (New Avengers v.1 # 29 - 30) and Voodoo had a better-than-average mini-series of his own, but once Voodoo became “an Avengers character” Bendis used him to further the ends of his own story. Perhaps Thor, in this issue, is being utilized to expresses the proper accusation – but instead of saying it to Dr. Strange, it is Bendis' way of addressing meta-commentary of fans' accusations to Bendis himself; “…YOU killed him. YOU set him up to fail.”
Even so, there were (and still are) many places for Doctor Voodoo to be used in the future.  His brother, as well. Voodoo is in itself a form of magic that deals with death, so I can believe he’ll be back – eventually.

Remember the whole “Drumm of Revenge” notation on the wall-map of Tony Stark’s future-self? (See it [HERE]) In a timeline of big events that affected the Marvel Universe, it was placed alongside such momentous events as the death of the Human Torch and the return of the original X-Men.
Far be it for me to say that this arc presented a minor foeman in the likes of Daniel Drumm (seeing as how he did manage to kill at least one “Avenger”; Victoria Hand), but this entire event took all of a day in “real” time and couldn’t have really been any more “important” than any other adventure.
It seems to me like something more substantial was initially intended, but time constraints, due to the onset of the new 'Marvel NOW!' era and Bendis’ choice to depart the Avengers franchise for all things “X”, led to a quick retooling of the story in the need to set things back to being as close to “pre-Bendis” as possible.

Due to the cyclical nature of the “implied growth” that comics presents, added to the end of the “Bendis-era” on the title, it basically was tantamount to “rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic”.
Unless… perhaps… this IS what was planned (in some manner or other) and the “Event” aspect of the “Drumm of Revenge” is but a simpler way of denoting the myriad aspects of this adventure: the death of an Avenger, the reinstatement of Doctor Strange as the major mystical force, and the “end” of the New Avengers. In which case, sure… I’ll buy that. I do think more was planned, but this will do.

Probably my biggest disappointment (and I know this will sound strange and slightly “blasphemous”,) is that I am NOT a fan of Doctor Strange’s NEW new look. Combining his new black and red costume with the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto is just a fashion nightmare. But THAT is the subject of my NEXT blog post. Look for it this weekend soon!

However, at the end of it all, we are left with Doctor Strange, once again, as the Sorcerer Supreme – and that is a great thing, indeed.

Check out the comments section for continued discussion on implied events, theories, the status of the Ancient One & Agamotto, and the fate of Doctor Voodoo.