Monday, May 25, 2020

Marvel Immersion Project: Strange Tales #118-124

I'm still undecided as to how I feel about Doctor Strange as a character.  While I will grant that he is refreshingly different from his Marvel contemporaries, I don't find his stories as compelling as those of others.  At this point, I would rate him above the Fantastic Four but below the Silver Surfer and Spider-Man.

Dr Strange 1
via Thoughtful Mirth

However, there's no denying the artwork is something special.  As promised last week, I've done a little research into the fascinating links between Steve Ditko's illustrations and the psychedelic art that emerged from the counter-culture of the mid-to-late 1960s.  This week, I will share a quick look at the common roots for both...

Dr Strange 2
via Thoughtful Mirth

In creating a mystical character with connections to the Far East, Ditko deliberately drew inspiration from Asian mystical art.  The most commonly found expression of that art in modern society is the mandala:

Painted 17th century Tibetan 'Five Deity Mandala', in the center is Rakta Yamari (the Red Enemy of Death) embracing his consort Vajra Vetali, in the corners are the Red, Green White and Yellow Yamari.jpg
By Anonymous - Rubin Museum of Art, Public Domain, Link

Buddha mandala.jpg
By Kamal Ratna Tuladhar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Asian mystcism, and the trappings thereof, were popular among the counter-culture as well.  The Beatles, among others, being drawn to Indian sitar music at the time was a different manifestation of the same phenomenon.

Psychedelic 60s | Graphic Design History
via Graphic Design History
While the artist himself would not have been thrilled, there were counter-culture enthusiasts who embraced Dr. Strange comics as an element of their movement.  Next week, I'll look at some of the direct links.

My Recent Reads

Strange Tales #118
Originally Published March 1, 1964
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
  • Villains: The Possessors

Strange Tales #119
April 1, 1964

Wong (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Dr. Strange's servant gets a name: Wong.
  • Strange travels to the Purple Dimension where he frees the enslaved minions of a being called Aggamon. 

Strange Tales #120
May 1, 1964

Iceman | X-Men Wiki | Fandom
via X-Men Wiki
  • In the primary Human Torch story (artist: Jack Kirby), Iceman of the X-Men teams up with Johnny Storm for the first time.
  • Dr. Strange's nemesis: a haunted house 

Strange Tales #121
June 1, 1964

Plantman | Villains Wiki | Fandom
via Villains Wiki
  • Human Torch (artist: Dick Ayers) villain: Plantman
  • Dr. Strange nemesis: Baron Mordo
  • We learn an important limitation of the doctor's powers: he can only stay in his ectoplasmic form for 24 hours.

Strange Tales #122
July 1, 1964

Terrible Trio (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Human Torch (artist: Ayers) villains: a group who would eventually be known as the Terrible Trio, including Handsome Harry Phillips, Yogi Dakor and Bill Brogin
  • Dr. Strange nemesis: Nightmare

Strange Tales #123
August 1, 1964
  • Beatles allusion!

  • Dr. Strange nemesis: Loki
  • Cameos by Thor and Odin
Odin Borson (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
Odin via Marvel Database

Strange Tales #124
September 1, 1964

Zota of Pergamum (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Nemesis: Zota
  • Cameos by Cleopatra and Mark Antony


  1. Wow! I'm just getting into the DC Universe and I love learning about their history. I'm not too familiar with Dr Strange, but I might have to check out the series. I am in love with retro cartoons.

    Thanks for posting this! 😃 Have you watched DC's Harley Quinn?

    Have a great day!

    1. I have not delved into the DC TV series, though I hear they're good. My daughter likes them a lot. I don't know if she's watched Harley Quinn.

  2. I didn't realize Strange tangled with Loki so early on.

    We went to an art exhibit a while back that had to do with the Summer of Love. There was a good amount of comic book art there, mostly Batman, if I'm remembering correctly.

    1. 1965 is the earliest direct link I've found, so a couple years before the Summer of Love.

  3. I was in 8th gr. in 1964 and the comic world was mine yet.

    My husband bought early Thor comics and then Dr. Strange. We were in 1978, I think,and we had every new book. Now he has Wonder Woman occasionally and Neil Gaiman's work.

    Thanks for showing the art and explanations!