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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Strange's troubled early years, 6 April 2007
By 
I. R. Kerr (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Doctor Strange Volume 2 TPB (Paperback)
Starting with a retelling of his origin and the re-appearances of Nightmare and Dormammu this collection starts off superbly. Dan Adkins art, although classy is soon outdone by the introduction of Gene Colan who steers the comic through some of its greatest tales, scripted by Roy Thomas. The Dormammu tale sees the return of Strange's lost love Clea as she is brought back to Earth with Strange.

The Nekron and Sons of Satannish tale is a standout as Strange allies himself with the Black Knight in an Avengers cross-over as they fight Satannish as well as two Norse Gods Ymir and Surtur.

There's another great 3-parter with Eternity surprisingly held captive by Nightmare and the clever re-appearance of Juggernaut with some quite superb Colan artwork.

Then the Nameless Ones cross-over tales with the Sub-Mariner and The Hulk that opened the gates for the later Defenders series, but at this time it ended with him walking off into the sunset to ponder his future.

Strange's appearances stopped for a few years before he returned in Marvel Premiere to confront Mordo who had taken over his identity. He gets his first battle against Nightmare who is working on behalf of Shuma-Gorath. These tales do suffer slightly from the lack of a regular artist and despite some Ok showings it is the introduction of Frank Brunner that brings the necessary continuity.

The Gardner Fox penned Shuma-Gorath story IS long and confusing and although concept credit is given to Robert E. Howard for the ideas any fan of H P Lovecraft will recognise in this 7 issue arc parts from the Shadow Over Innsmouth and Dagon tales,and many others,including the Innsmouth look and the New England settings. The Creatures are,however,man sized and not as Lovecraft portrayed them. The monsters do look good though and the ending with Strange killing the Ancient One is a brilliant twist.

Mordo re-appears as he attempts to go back in time to change events without affecting himself. He and Strange go back to see Cagliostro who it turns out is a wizard from the future called Sise-Neg who wants to go back in time to become the supreme being and manages that with a twist that you see coming from the Sodom & Gomorrah section as well as the clue in his name spelled backwards.

For those,like me,who are Lovecraft fans these tales are superb, the fact is though it is a niche market and although they are done well,the mere fact that Strange disappeared for 2 years shows it needed a new direction. Gene Colan's artwork is one of the main reasons it gets a good mark, it can not get 5 stars as the other Essentials series are so much better. You can still search the web to get glimpses of Colan's Doctor Strange artwork in colour on comic fan web-sites and it is well worth looking up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doc Strange - the psychedelic era, 19 Dec 2005
This review is from: Essential Doctor Strange Volume 2 TPB (Paperback)
Dr Strange always appealed to me because, unlike so many other superheroes (to steal a quote from Grant Morrison) he wasn't one of those characters with too much testosterone and a gun in every pocket. Instead, as these stories show, there was a lot of mystical journeying, surreal alternate dimensions and so on. This volume, which is both huge and very reasonably priced, spans the late '60's through to the mid '70's. The good doctor emerged from half of Strange Tales and got his own magazine in 1968, which was cancelled shortly after, popped up in various other places (hence reprints here of the odd Hulk or Avengers story) but then reappeared in Marvel Premiere in 1972-4. The early stories are all written by Roy Thomas, who injects his usual melodrama and love of 'crossovers' (appearances by other Marvel characters) into proceedings, with limited success. However, most of these early tales are illustrated by Gene Colan, at the height of his powers. His layouts fizz with invention, mystic bolts explode across scenes, characters are beautifully drawn and faces portray emotions perfectly - the man was a genius, particularly on these stories. After his departure, things are a bit more sporadic. There is a wonderful story illustrated by Barry Winsor-Smith followed by a long and confusing saga written by Gardner Fox, illustrated by various artists, some great, some awful. This volume concludes with some fabulous work by Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner, whose lush drawing is a real pleasure to behold. The writing also has some bite, Englehart throws in some nice time paradoxes and meditations on the nature of magical power. All in all, this is a worthwhile purchase, the few inferior stories are outnumbered by some truly inspiring material. Roll on volume 3, with more Englehart and Brunner, followed by the return of Gene Colan!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gene Colan at his best, 26 Sep 2007
By 
J. Crawford - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Doctor Strange Volume 2 TPB (Paperback)
At the end of Essential Dr Strange vol. 1, Dormammu is dead, Umar has fled back to the Dark Dimension, Zom has been banished by the Living Tribunal, Baron Mordo has been put back in his place, and Victoria Bentley has finally been returned to Earth. What was there left for Dr Strange to do?

Well, as it turns out, the answer is 'plenty'. Dormammu and Nightmare are back, and the unoriginality of their returns is more than compensated for the fact that they are now being drawn by Gene Colan, doing some of the best work of his career. He might lack the high wierdness of Ditko's run, but his drawings are stunning: Dormammu has never looked so threatening, Clea so beautiful, or Nightmare so insane. Best of all are his radical experiments with layouts, eschewing the standard comic-book grid in favour of fragmented pages that look like broken mirrors, with images stabbing into one another, overlapping, or lurching off at angles. Never has the sheer, mind-overloading craziness of Dr Strange's world been better conveyed.

After Colan's departure, things inevitably go downhill. There's a functional crossover storyline guest-starring Namor and Hulk, in which Strange battles the mad cult and demonic minions of The Nameless One, an ancient god attempting to return to Earth after eons of imprisonment. Then there's a storyline in which Strange battles the mad cult and demonic minions of Shuma-Gorath, an ancient god attempting to return to Earth after eons of imprisonment. (No, seriously: they used exactly the same story twice in a row.) For a while things really go to pieces, with poor artwork and an incoherent plot, but it pulls itself together at the end for a decent conclusion. Finally comes a brilliant story in which Strange and Mordo travel backwards in time with the techno-magus Sise-Neg, each trying to influence his decisions as he ascends towards omnipotence; it's rich in ideas, and likely to particularly appeal to anyone with an interest in theology. If only it had been drawn by Gene Colan...
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Essential Doctor Strange Volume 2 TPB
Essential Doctor Strange Volume 2 TPB by Roy Thomas (Paperback - 26 Dec 2007)
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