First Published: December 2007
Contents: Doctor Strange #1 (June 1974) to #29 (June 1978); Doctor Strange Annual #1 (1976); and The Tomb of Dracula #44 (May 1976) and #45 (June 1976)
Key Creator Credits: Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, Gene Colon, Frank Brunner, Jim Starlin, Roger Stern, Tom Sutton, and others
Key First Appearances: Silver Dagger, Gaea, Domini
Story Continues From: Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 2
Story Continues In: Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 4
Overview: As a part of the Marvel Universe for over 10 years, Doctor Strange served as the co-star of Strange Tales, which was later renamed (but not renumbered) as Doctor Strange; he was the focus of attention in Marvel Feature and Marvel Premiere; and he helped found a non-team in the Defenders. But it took until 1974 for Doctor Strange to finally get what every hero craves – a #1 issue!
Having finished his run in Marvel Premiere, Doctor Strange once again got his own bi-monthly title with the same creative team of Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner. But the title really picks up when Gene Colon returns to the title with issue #6.
There are some interesting stories in this volume. Doctor Strange becomes the last man alive, as the Earth is destroyed and then replaced with an exact duplicate. Doctor Strange travels to Boston where he encounters Dracula to save Wong from becoming a vampire. And who else could defeat Doctor Strange but a Doctor Stranger. Thankfully, Doctor Strange still has friends like Clea, the Ancient One, and Nighthawk to stand by his side as he faces down these new challenges.
What makes this Essential?: I do try to be original for each one of these reviews. But I run the risk of repeating myself with this review. So, I’m still not a big fan of Doctor Strange. But the art of this volume, in particular that of Gene Colan, is simply spectacular. I think that the black & white format actually enhances the art. This volume could serve as a primer for aspiring artists looking to understand page layouts and characters forms. The stories seem rather average against the artwork – for all of the talk about current writers stretching out stories for the trades, they should read some of these stories.
Footnotes: Doctor Strange #3 contains reprints of Doctor Strange stories from Strange Tales #126 and #127, framed with new pages. These Strange Tales stories were previously reprinted in Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 1.
Doctor Strange #14 and The Tomb of Dracula #44 and #45 were also reprinted in Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2.
Doctor Strange #21 is a reprint of Doctor Strange #169, which retells the origin of Doctor Strange. This story was previously reprinted in Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 2.
The full review can be found at Essential Showcase.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of Doctor Strange, check with your local comic book store. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!