Accolades for Doctor Strange

If you’re like me, you get nervous with each addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With 13 films preceding it, Doctor Strange has a lot to live up to. While the movie opens this Friday, reviews are of course already in hand. And they are glowing.

DrStrangeMarvel’s most satisfying entry since “Spider-Man 2,” and a throwback to M. Night Shyamalan’s soul-searching identity-crisis epic “Unbreakable,”.Full review

Peter Debruge
Variety

 

Benedict Cumberbatch is unpredictable and intriguing as the Marvel superhero in a brain-melting tale that reinvigorates the genre. Full review

Wendy Ide
The Guardian

A bizarre and beautiful detour on the Marvel journey, which culminates in a mind-bending, expectation-inverting final act. Not to be watched under the influence. Full review

James Dyer
Empire

 

Each ‘phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Strange is the second installment of ‘phase 2’) has further developed the rich universe of characters. Back in the early days of Marvel Comics, one of the most interesting innovations was that the heroes and villains all inhabited the same world (and in most cases the same city). This meant that the Fantastic Four could be called in by the military to hunt down the Hulk or Dr. Doom could catch Spider-Man. Whereas traditionally, characters existed in a vacuum, the Marvel characters mingled.

In addition to new heroes and villains, each new monthly comic added a different dimension to the Marvel Universe, be it the espionage of Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the teenage school setting of the X-Men,  Peter Parker’s high school hi-jinx in Spider-Man, the far-out exploring of the Fantastic Four, the legal drama of Daredevil, the technical innovation of Iron Man or even the weirdly mystical realm of Doctor Strange. It’s heartening to see this approach, which was so successful in grabbing the attention of readers in the 1960’s, succeed again with the movie-going public today.

marveluniverseWhile Thor introduced fantasy and Guardians of the Galaxy added the science fiction elements, Doctor Strange is going to take us to another world altogether. And from the reviews so far, it’s one that fans are eager to enter.

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New Avengers Annual- Doctor Strange ‘Self Surgery’

Avengers_DrStrange
Doctor Stephen Strange was once a vain and snobbish neurosurgeon. He believed that he was incapable of failure and paid the price for his hubris when he lost control of his sports car one evening. He survived the crash, but the nerves in his hands were permanently damaged. He would never operate again. Taking to the streets, he was a lost soul until he found his way to Tibet where he hoped a guru known only as the Ancient One would heal him. Instead of regaining his skill as a physician, Doctor Strange became a sorcerer and protector of the human race against ethereal threats from eldritch realms.

Since he has taken on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme (after the passing of his mentor, the Ancient One), Dr. Strange has been a Defender, an Avenger and much more. After a fall from grace, he as sacrificed much in recent years to regain his stature and this stand-alone tale reestablishes the majesty and sheer spookiness of the character.

In the classic Strange Tales in which the good Doctor first appeared, the stories were creepy suspenseful yarns straight out of the pulps and Steve Ditko’s otherworldly artwork took readers on a psychedelic journey to a world that could exist only in the mind. It is a hard act to follow though many have tried. Marvel has had some trouble in finding a home for Doctor Strange in their stable of heroes and he has actually found a much better sole as a supporting cast member in the Avengers books rather than the star of his own monthly series.

‘Self Surgery’ is a call back to the days of Bizarre Adventures when readers could explore the darker recesses of the Marvel Universe in lushly painted tales that stood on their own. The wonderfully weird and unsettling lush paintwork of Marco Rudy modernizes the look and feel of Doctor Strange as very few artists could (though it bares some resemblance to David Mack’s work, I doubt if even he could have pulled this off). The script by Frankie Barvbiere is a pulp-ish story that restores Doctor Strange to his rightful place as a unique and horror-fueled character.

Doctor Strange has been called back to Tibet where the assembled monks have pierced the veil of reality using magic and technology only to unleash a demon that wishes to destroy all in its path. Trapped in the vessel of a princess, the danger is held at bay, but only for a short time. Taking leave of his physical body, Strange enters the astral plane where the monks are hard at work battling the demon to no avail. What transpires is a thrilling and marvelous magical battle between magician and monster.

Throughout the adventure, the reader is given a glimpse into Strange’s past, in the early days of his time as a surgeon when he believed nothing was outside of his power. In the present, he shows his fellow monks and the reader alike that he is far more powerful than they had imagined and while he can do almost anything… it all comes with a price.

I picked this book up on a whim (and because of the attractive cover) but am glad that I did. If you are a fan of Doctor Strange, you should pick this up. As the feature film was recently announced as being in production by Marvel, expect Doctor Strange to become the next superstar of the cinematic comic book world.

“By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!” get thee a copy today!

New Avengers 2014 Annual #1- Doctor Strange in ‘Self Surgery’
Written by Frankie Barbiere, drawn by Marco Rudy

What is Shuma-Gorath?


As the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange has the weirdest and deadliest of foes. Perhaps one of the more memorable monsters that the cloaked mystic has ever faced is Shuma-Gorath. An invention of Conan and John Carter – Warlord of Mars creator Robert E. Howard, Shuma-Gorath is basically a Cthulu-archetype. An ancient god who ruled all of creation in the days of pre-history, it is one of the ‘many-angled-ones’ who demand obedience and draws psychic energy from its subjects. A frightening mangled mass of limbs and tentacles, Shuma-Gorath bears a singular giant eye through which to survey its fearful victims.

When Robert E. Howard’s Kull the Conqueror was published by Marvel Comics, the monsters were absorbed into the Marvel Universe, along with Kulan Gath. Later, Shuma-Gorath would emerge as a threat to Doctor Strange, striking from the mind of Strange’s mentor, the Ancient One. The monstrous entity was more of an abstract threat than Dormamu who had become a kind of Doctor Doom-type and allowed for Strange’s rogue’s gallery to become more robust with possibilities. In the revamped 1990’s Strange Tales series, Shuma Gorath made a return appearance against a white-haired Strange, but has been rather absent of late.

As the mystic playing field of Doctor Strange has become reshuffled after the events of the latest issue of the New Avengers, I wonder if we will soon see the return of Shuma-Gorath. I’d certainly love to see the creature threaten the team.

A formidable foe, Shuma-Gorath will be available as a special downloadable content character for special downloadable content character for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds due to hit stores on February, 2011.

Capcom will release Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds in a Special Edition. Those looking to dive deeper into this epic fighting experience will get the following:

– Steelbook case featuring exclusive art work
– Comic/Art book- A 12-page prologue comic, written by Marvel writer Frank Tieri, plus campaign art and a curated selection of fan art.
– 1-month Subscription to Marvel Digital Comics, providing unlimited online access to Marvel content
– 2 Playable DLC Characters – Shuma Gorath and Jill Valentine. Content is available 4 weeks post-launch.

… everyone’s favorite one-eyed demon Shuma-Gorath, famous for delivering his unconventional brand of tentacle-based combat with a little magic thrown in. Other Marvel characters include Magneto, M.O.D.O.K., Spider-Man, X-23, Dormmamu, Thor, Deadpool, Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Doom and Super-Skrull. – Via Marvelousnews