January 13, 2006

Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #12 [1978]

In the late 1970s, a bunch of complete Charlton comics were reprinted with a "Modern" logo on the cover. This is one such comic, reprinting the original MANY GHOSTS OF DOCTOR GRAVES #12 from 1969, including an 11-page Ditko story. Doctor Graves is a kind of interesting character. He seems to clearly be based on Doctor Strange, although from what I've seen for most of his history he just served as one of the many interchangeable hosts for the Charlton fantasy/horror titles. From what I can tell, he first shows up in GHOSTLY TALES right around the time Ditko left Doctor Strange, but he's drawn by Ernie Bache, in short 3-page stories. Ditko did later draw some stories with the character, apparently only five or so with him as an active character and others with him as the host. I'd be curious to read the other Ditko stories and the early non-Ditko stories to see if the Doc Strange elements were there from the beginning.

"The Ultimate Evil" is the only example of a story with Graves as an active participant that I have, and it very much feels like something meant for Strange, with his fancy garb replaced with a business suit. He's even based in Greenwich Village, New York. In this story, he detects an evil astral force approaching Earth and sends out his spirit form to stop it. Unfortunately he fails when the evil force detects no weakness in Graves, and decides to destroy the Earth if it can't conquer it. Graves is just barely able to project his spirit back in time to warn himself and better plan for the battle.

This would have been a very good Doctor Strange story, and the visuals are easily up there with some of the classic Strange stuff of a few years earlier. Unfortunately the writing isn't at the level of those and that had a lot to do with setting the mood and sense of menace of those stories.

The cover is a collage of four panels taken from the story.

"The Ultimate Evil" B-1858


  1. Bob,

    Nice to see you have a Ditko as well as Kirby Blog! When did you start this up? And did I miss you mentioning it on the Kirby Blog?

    Re: the Dr. Graves story. It was scripted by Steve Skeates, full script, if I recall correctly, more than likely a homage of Dr. Strange by Skeates. He has written about this story and I will try to post some of his comeents when I find them. Always liked Dr. Graves myself, and would have liked to see more tales with Graves in action.

    Nick Caputo

  2. Hi Nick. Always glad to have your added information here as on the Kirby weblog. I just started it a few weeks ago, but just quietly added a link to the Kirby weblog instead of an announcement so I could actually have a few entries before announcing it.

    Interesting info on Skeates and the Graves story. Makes sense that he would adapt the character to a Strange homage with Ditko around. I wonder how Ditko felt about being given a pseudo-Strange script (I remember in one interview Denny O'Neil mentioned that Ditko didn't seem to like the scripting on Creeper (by O'Neil) and Hawk&Dove (by Skeates) over at DC).

  3. I've spoken to Skeates and he really enjoyed working with Ditko, even though they had different points of view. Ditko did have more to say on stories he created or co-created, but they did do a few interesting short stories for Charlton, including one that involved time travel that was quite entertaining.

    Nick Caputo

  4. I've not been able to find the quote by Skeates about this story, BUT, I've learned that the next issue of Charlton Spotlight (# 5) will have an interview with Skeates discussing this very story. Highly recommended!

    Nick Caputo



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