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The ’90s Revisited: Dr. Strange #36

90s_revisited

dr_strange_0036Footnote to Infinity

Writers: Roy & Dann Thomas
Penciler: Dan Lawlis
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letterer: R. Parker
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor in Chief: Tom Defalco
With Special Thanks To: Jim Starlin, Advisor
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1991
Cover Price: $1.50

I bought this issue completely outside of any kind of context for the Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme series. It initially caught my attention specifically for the presence of Adam Warlock on the cover with the Infinity Gauntlet. The corner blurb that this is an Infinity Gauntlet "Epilogue" solidified it for me. I’ve read The Infinity Gauntlet a couple times (though it’s been a number of years now and I’m due for a re-read–as if I’m not extremely far behind on all my NEW reading) and early issues of Warlock and the Infinity Watch. But I’d never read this issue, and I was curious as to exactly how it was addressing Infinity Gauntlet, its place in the timeline. I’m glad to say that my curiosity was satisfied.

We open on Dr. Strange arriving back home, reuniting with his supporting cast. It’s an impromptu party, and among other reunions we see Strange and Clea (who is the only other person in the room that remembers what happened). As they dance around the subject and share the joy of everyone being present, Wong announces that he’s engaged…and moments later, Pip the troll and Gamora appear, disrupting things–they’re here for Dr. Strange, hoping he might aid them in dealing with a driven-mad-with-power Warlock. Strange confronts Warlock, and winds up having to use every resource available to him, basically, just to hold his ground. After he’s "survived" attacks involving the other Infinity Gems (yes, this is back when they were GEMS, not STONES), he turns the tide by going after the Soul Gem–the one most closely linked to Warlock…and manages to get through to him, helping him see what’s happening, and stand down. After thanks, a friendly handshake, and promises to see things stay on the right path, everyone parts ways…though Strange gets a brief encounter with Eternity…the cosmic being representing the universe itself. Eternity intends to claim the Infinity Gems, by bringing Warlock to some cosmic trial…but that’s not for Strange to deal with, and he finishes his return journey home.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed this issue more if I was "up" on contextual continuity for this series at the point this issue falls. I basically remember THAT Strange was involved early on, being maybe the first Silver Surfer made contact with of the Earth heroes regarding Thanos having assembled all the Gems; and then with Warlock and the "behind the scenes" crew in taking on Thanos. I also vaguely remember that Wong was one of the "half the living entities in the universe" that were blinked out of existence at the start of Infinity Gauntlet. I’m not invested in any of the supporting cast or cameo appearances. And I felt like Warlock was extremely out of character, given the out and out attacks directed at Dr. Strange…and it all rang as the old cliché "hero vs. hero" and such that I really don’t care about. At least here, though, the situation is resolved within the same issue, it does NOT take up the ENTIRE issue, and certainly does not become an entire story arc for a mini-series or title. I was glad to see stuff resolved here, and where I was curious going in as to WHERE exactly this took place in "the timeline," the end of the issue with Eternity suggests to me that this essentially led into Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1.

Story-wise, this felt like "the next issue" of the title. That is, it didn’t waste time trying to retell that which is told elsewhere, nor did this feel like just some "middle chapter" or such of a serialized graphic novel. There are details that are obviously "subplots" being moved along, while the main focus of the issue is an encounter that is begun, run, and resolved within this issue. For a reader perhaps checking this out BECAUSE of seeing Strange in Infinity Gauntlet, it seems to have him pulling out all the stops, and in a way "showing off" for the newer readers, while perhaps reminding older readers of what he can do on his own, as more than just a single character of a huge ensemble cast in a Marvel Universe event.

Visually, I liked the art for this issue overall. For one thing, I felt like I recognized everyone I would expect to–particularly Dr. Strange himself, Pip, Gamora, and Warlock. I attribute this to a "house style" that I feel like I recall being prevalent in the early ’90s; at the least, everyone looks familiar enough that I had no problem with their appearances and nothing messed with my memory of how they "should have" looked or whatever.

As a single issue, this isn’t enough to "sell" me on Dr. Strange’s series…I’m in no particular hurry to find out what happens with the next issue (though I’m "curious" at the tease of "Frankensurfer" and wouldn’t be entirely opposed to keeping an eye out for the issue in a passive sense) nor do I feel any great need to rush out and get previous issues. That said…this seemed a solid issue, a decent follow-up to Infinity Gauntlet, and probably not the worst thing one could read from Marvel for the early 1990s. I enjoyed it enough to have more than justified the 25 cents I spent for it, and I’m glad to have read this.

dr_strange_0036_blogtrailer

On NOT Going to Local Comic Shop Day

I admit it–I did not participate in (attending) Local Comic Shop Day today.

doctor_strange_the_oath_lcsd_hardcover_solicit

My primary interest–which I recognize comes largely from a photo of Benedict Cumberbatch in costume as Doctor Strange holding a copy of this book combined with over-hypeage from Bleeding Cool–would have been Doctor Strange: The Oath.

Thing is, virtually no one had a PRICE listed.

See, I don’t have the kind of money to just not care what the price is on an item. The price itself helps determine my interest…as it’s a huge part of how realistic it is for me to even consider purchasing the item.

Then I did find a price for it–$39.99! $40 for a 5-issue hardcover…functionally $8 per issue!

Nope, no thank you, nuh-uh, I don’t think so.


Then there’s this other question: isn’t every Wednesday ‘Local Comic Shop Day’?!? Where, weekly, on Wednesdays minimum, sometimes additional days, I visit some local comic shop and usually wind up buying SOMETHING. I’m not into records and such and don’t visit places like The Exchange or Buybacks or even Best Buy on any regular shedule, and not even necessarily weekly or monthly. But I do visit a comic shop virtually every single week.

So I can see where, perhaps, a Record Store Day or such might get more people in…but when it becomes (whether record store or comic shop) about high-end, premium, ultra-limited-edition high-priced "exclusive" items…that’s NOT EVEN doing anyone any good except rooking the customers.

I might have been interested in the Serenity issue, but that would’ve been more of a "guilt" purchase once I was at a shop, if I felt like I "had to" buy something after spending too long "just browsing" or such.

I don’t like variants generally-speaking, and all the more I don’t like relatively prominent alternate logos or variants so prevalent they get their own logo.

So having a prominent Local Comic Shop Day/LCSD logo on something would just make it stand out (negatively, for me) as "not the ‘real’ thing" and as something faux-special. Worse, the other main thing I might’ve been interested in would be the DC Universe: Rebirth deluxe hardcover…but the LCSD edition is just an inferior, unfinished cover! (aka "sketch" cover or whatever the called it)

Worse, this came less than a week before "Black Friday," in the midst of all sorts of "early" or "pre" Black Friday "sales" and such the world over (ok, slight exaggeration), with the ACTUAL Black Friday looming, followed by "Small Business Saturday" (aren’t virtually all comic shops "Small Businesses"?!?) and even "Cyber Monday" (at least in terms of online sales, for ordering stuff via online methods).


Am I just that discouraged lately, that grumpy and cynical and such?

Perhaps all the better that I didn’t go to a shop.

But with something like the Doctor Strange hardcover, or any of the other "LCSD exxxxclusivvvvveeee!!!!!!" things…if it were REALLY about getting people into the shops and aware of them and such…don’t short the shops or force THEM to pre-order everything. Make stuff available FOR ORDER, even if it’s a one-day-only ORDERING.

Get me into a shop, "sell" me on an item–having a copy of it in-person to show me–but if you don’t have enough at the moment, be able to order one for me, because it IS LCSD and it’s a special FOR that day.

Meanwhile, Wednesday I’ll be making my hour-or-so drive to my "usual" LCS to buy my pull list stuff, some things on order, and likely raid the bargain bins. Because it’ll be Wednesday.

And for me, EVERY Wednesday is Local Comic Shop Day.

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