March 26, 2006

Marvel Tales #136 [1982]

This issue reprints the third Doctor Strange story, "The Return Of The Omnipotent Baron Mordo", from STRANGE TALES #114 [1963]. As the title says, Doc's main rival, Baron Mordo, attacks again, this time luring Doctor Strange to an old castle in London by disguising himself as Lord Bentley, an old and apparently distant friend of Doc (distant enough that Doc didn't know he died a decade before). Mordo traps him in the vapours of a mystic candle, which will end his life if it's allowed to burn out. Ever arrogant Doc refused the Ancient One's offer to help, and instead reaches out to the nearby Victoria Bentley, who has latent mystic powers. Not taken by surprise, Doctor Strange is more than a match for Mordo, who is forced to retreat.

They sure did pack a lot into these early 5-page episodes. Mordo and his arrogance, clearly covering for his innate cowardice, is always nice to see. I thought it was kind of interesting that Victoria was pretty clearly set up to return, though she doesn't until long after Ditko is gone. There seem to be a few mild attempts to create a few supporting characters for Doctor Strange beyond the Ancient One, though none seem to take for the first few years.

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