Bronze Age Beginnings

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Marvel Feature #2

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist: Ross Andru

Inker: Sal Buscema

If it’s Halloween, we must be in Rutland, Vermont. Cue the obligatory Bronze Age cameos for Tom Fagan and a Marvel writer; in this instance Roy Thomas (with wife Jeanie)*.

It’s the night before All-Hallows Eve, and some witchy folks in robes are summoning The Dread Dormammu. When he shows up he isn’t too pleased. What he needs is the vessel to escape his otherworldly dimension, and in this instance that would be Dr. Strange (just his body will do). Some of those same witchy robed folks have journeyed to New York’s Greenwich Village and the good doctors Sanctum Sanctorum, where they trick Dr. Strange’s astral self from his body so they can kidnap it before returning to Rutland. Wong puts up a good fight but soon succumbs; luckily he was on the telephone to Clea at the time. She soon arrives, and after Wong fills her in decides she better summon some help. Interestingly, it appears that Stephen Strange and Clea are on the outs at this time, and her powers have waned somewhat.

Using the Eye of Agamotto, Clea manages to broadcast an image of Dr. Strange to two recent allies, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk, and both answer the summons to New York and a dark alley where Clea and Wong are waiting. After dressing Namor in some civilian wear, Clea hypnotises Hulk into transforming back into Bruce Banner and gives him some tranquilisers to keep his mood swings in check. They then catch a bus to Rutland to rescue Dr. Strange’s body.

Up on Bald Mountain, proceedings have begun to release Dormammu so he can reside in Dr. Strange’s body and conquer our dimension. Our intrepid band of rescuers climb the mountain, battling witchy robed folks on the way, and when they reach the summit, just as Dormammu appears, Dr. Strange’s astral self shows up - he was hiding within Wong. A battle ensues, and Dormammu is once more banished.

Roy Thomas’ script is efficient at bringing these three very different characters together, but if The Defenders are to continue as a team, a less convoluted means will need to be found to accomplish that on a regular basis. The concept does have a lot of potential though, and I enjoyed the interaction between the three leads (+ Clea). Ross Andru, inked by Sal Buscema, captures the mood necessary to this type of story, filling the pages with an eerie atmosphere and strong storytelling (and his Clea is a delight too -weird hair and all).

*last seen in The Avengers #83

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There’s also a ‘fabulous Fifties featurette’, from Sub-Mariner Comic #36, showcasing Namor’s astute Atlantean intelligence. After helping an alien world drain the Earth of its water, Namor suddenly realises...

“Ah...good! Now the sun will go to work, and the world’s population will perish without water!! Oh, what sweet revenge! At last I’ve gotten even! But...WAIT!!! What have I done??? Without water, my own race will die off, too!!!”

Oh, Namor...

3 comments:

  1. That second story sounds a hoot, Namor is such a thickie.

    As for the first, I used to hate those Rutland stories, they were so self-indulgent.

    I really miss Clea, I suppose she's off pushing drugs on hapless Hulks - didn't she have any baked beans?

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  2. I liked the Rutland stories. To me, that's an example of Bronze Age fun that you don't see in Modern Age comics.

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  3. Consider; because of those Rutland stories Marvel 'owns' various Marvel creators. They should bring back Roy Thomas in his own series.

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