Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #115

Credits:

Cover Date: December 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko

“The Sandman Strikes!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

“The Origin of Doctor Strange”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

In “The Sandman Strikes,” the Human Torch tracks down the Sandman after a prison break. Can Johnny Storm handle a villain that nearly defeated Spider-Man?

In “The Origin of Doctor Strange,” we learn…the origin of Doctor Strange. He was a successful surgeon, but an accident seriously injured the nerves in his hands. Unable to continue as an elite surgeon, but too proud and stubborn to accept a less prestigious role, Strange became a bitter and hopeless vagabond until he heard a rumor that he could be healed by the Ancient One. But how did a man of science become a man of black magic?

Sub-Plots:

  • The Sandman has broken out of prison, but Ben, Reed, and Sue are all busy. Instead of asking Johnny to find the Sandman, Reed asks Johnny to find Spider-Man, so he can handle the problem.

  • Johnny bristles at Reed implying that Spidey is better at something than him, so when he finds the Sandman, Johnny decides to handle the villain on his own.
  • Sandman doesn’t consider the Torch a serious threat. He is looking to even the score against Spider-Man!

  • Since Sandman won’t fight him, the Torch decides to disguise himself as Spider-Man and issue a challenge.

  • Sandman answers the challenge, and the two begin a game of cat-and-mouse. Sandman tricks Johnny into wasting most of his flame, but Johnny tricks the Sandman into getting wet.

  • Johnny eventually wins the fight, thanks to his superior hand-to-hand combat.
  • Stephen Strange was a cocky and selfish surgeon, obsessed with fame and wealth before his accident.

  • Strange was in a car accident that somehow managed to cause nerve damage in his hands, but left them otherwise unharmed.

  • Strange travels to the East and eventually finds the Ancient One. He rejects the possibility of magic until he observes the Ancient One’s assistant, Baron Mordo, casting a spell on his master.

  • Strange tries to tell the Ancient One of Mordo’s treachery, but Mordo casts a spell to keep Strange from revealing the truth.

  • Strange eventually realizes that he can speak under Mordo’s spell; he just cannot warn the Ancient One. Strange decides to accept an offer to study under the Ancient One.

  • Apparently, the Ancient One was well aware of Mordo’s actions, and used this to convince Strange of the power of magic. He dismissed Mordo’s spells with ease. He kept Mordo as an assistant, though, to keep a close eye on him.

Continuity:

  • Reed is still trying to find the cure to blindness.

  • This is the second time Reed has been referenced as an impressive judo teacher.

  • Doctor Strange’s appearance changes noticeably in this issue. The heavily-lidded eyes and funky-shaped mustache/eyebrows are replaced with more Caucasian features. Notice the trimmer mustache and eyebrows, and visible eyes:

  • This is the first time Doctor Strange’s origin is told.
  • This is the first mention of Dormammu, and the first time he and Baron Mordo are connected.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • What a triumph! I can’t believe that Marvel Comics got the rights to use Sandman from the publisher of Spider-Man, Marvel Comics!

  • I love how bored Reed looks as he zings Johnny.

  • THEY PUT HIM IN A REGULAR JAIL CELL?!?

  • Reed: I hate to do that, but sometimes I have to puff out my chest and make teenagers feel bad.

  • Sandman has an unusually sunny disposition for a career criminal.

  • Since when does heat impact strength?

  • Remember how different Doctor Strange used to look, as recently as last issue? I find it funny how different he looks here, the first issue where he is referred to as a “Western man.” I have no doubt that Lee and Ditko originally intended for Strange to be Asian, and then changed him to American as he gained popularity.

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