Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #121

Credits:

Cover Date: June 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky, Steve Ditko

“Prisoner of the Plantman!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

“Witchcraft in the Wax Museum!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

The Human Torch has a rematch against the Plantman, while Doctor Strange fights Baron Mordo.

Details:

In “Prisoner of the Plantman!”:

  • Plantman has returned, and he attacks Johnny Storm with the first chance he gets.

  • Plantman dampens Johnny and licks him in his bedroom closet. But why?

  • Plantman wanted the Human Torch our of the way so he could rob a nearby hotel. When Johnny frees himself, he decides that he wants to take Plantman down by himself, with no help from the Fantastic Four.

  • Plantman challenges the Human Torch to a showdown in the botanical gardens, and of course Johnny accepts. He doesn’t go in with a particular plan, though, so Plantman quickly gets the upper hand.

  • The two fight for a bit, with Plantman keeping Johnny moist enough to not flame on. Eventually, Johnny sends some “concentrated heat signals” into the air, which attract the police. The police then arrest Plantman.

In “Witchcraft in the Wax Museum!”:

  • Doctor Strange receives an urgent phone call for help, so he sends his astral projection to investigate. It was all a ruse, though; while his spirit was gone, someone kidnapped Doctor Strange’s physical body!

  • Baron Mordo is the body snatcher. While he cannot physically harm Doctor Strange, if he can keep Strange’s astral and physical selves apart for 24 hours, Doctor Strange will die!

  • Doctor Strange searches for his physical body, but Baron Mordo sends obstacles his way. Strange defeats Mordo’s allies, but he wastes precious time in the process.

  • Doctor Strange eventually finds his body in a wax museum, but Mordo has placed a spell on it to keep his astral self from rejoining it.

  • Doctor Strange eventually tricks Baron Mordo into leaving his physical body to battle on the astral plane.

  • That weakens Mordo enough for Doctor Strange to return to his own body.

Is It Good?

Not really. The Human Torch story was mildly interesting for the nonsense Stan Lee came up with to answer the question “But what if a bad guy keeps Johnny damp?” Aside from that silliness, it’s a bad story. The Doctor Strange tale had some cool ideas presented, but they aren’t developed. At this point, I am really starting to wish that Steve Ditko had come up with a more interesting visual to show the difference between physical bodies and astral forms; the black and white image is distinct, true, but it’s visually boring in these stories.

Continuity:

  • Plantman (previously referred to as “Plant Man”) last appeared in Strange Tales #113.
  • Baron Mordo last appeared in Strange Tales #117.
  • Plantman’s real name, Sam Smithers, is mentioned for the first time.
  • Plantman debuted his new costume and a revamped plant ray gun.

  • Doctor Strange has vowed to not take a life. He does not specify if that means any life, or just human life.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • There are many reasons to not drive around town in an convertible while wearing your super-villain costume. Avoiding your flying enemies is one of them.

  • SO MOIST

  • I don’t think you can melt cactus quills. Definitely not if you aren’t hot enough to catch fire.

  • So wait…those aren’t flames? Why do they look like they’re made of fire? Do the police know that they are supposed to respond to the signals? They don’t appear to show up when the Fantastic Four flare gun goes off.

  • What protection? That hasn’t stopped people from trying to hurt his physical body before.

  • Doctor who?

<<<Strange Tales #120

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