Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #126

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“Pawns of the Deadly Duo!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Paul Reinman

“The Domain of the Dread Dormammu!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

In the Human Torch/Thing feature, the Mad Thinker and Puppet Master have teamed up again! Instead of attacking the entire Fantastic Four again, they have decided to focus on destroying them one at a time!

In the Doctor Strange story, the Doctor enters the Dark Dimension to fight the unbeatable dread lord, Dormammu!

Details:

In “Pawns of the Deadly Duo”:

  • The Mad Thinker has a new plan. This time, he isn’t targeting all of the Fantastic Four; he is focusing on the Human Torch and Thing. All he needs is the Puppet Master to make his foolproof plan work.

  • The Puppet Master made a puppet of the Thing; under the Puppet Master’s control, Thing knocks out Johnny while he’s piloting the Fantasticar. As Johnny plummets to his death, the Thing struggles in vain to break from the Puppet Master’s control.

  • But then a strange thing happens; the Thing transforms back into Ben Grimm, breaking Puppet Master’s control!

  • Ben has enough time (and skill) to swoop down and catch Johnny before he hits the pavement.

  • Ben soon transforms back into the Thing, and they return to the Baxter Building. With the help of Mr. Fantastic, they figure out that Puppet Master has manipulated Thing.

  • Reed convinces Ben and Johnny to hang out while he invents something, instead of having them search the city for the Puppet Master.

  • Back at the Mad Thinker’s hideout, he and the Puppet Master learn from the news that their attempt to kill the Human Torch was unsuccessful.

  • They double-down on their plan, and the Puppet Master makes another puppet of the Thing, and he makes it his most powerful puppet ever!

  • But the Mad Thinker didn’t account for the genius of Reed Richards! Reed invented a special helmet for the Thing to protect him.

  • When the Puppet Master tried to control the Thing’s actions, the Thing’s new helmet sends enough feedback to knock the villain out and end their threat.

In “The Domain of the Dread Dormammu”:

  • At the behest of the Ancient One, Doctor Strange will confront Dormammu and (hopefully) prevent him from leaving his dark dimension.

  • The Dark Domain of Dormammu is a strange and heavily guarded place, but Strange is powerful enough to enter the realm.

  • There are many dangers in the Dark Dimension. Some are simply traps, designed to draw intruders into yet another dimension…

  • …but most are direct attacks from the forces of the dread Dormammu.

  • Not all in the Dark Dimension are against Doctor Strange. An unnamed woman watched Strange’s progress and warned him not to face Dormammu, or risk being slain.

  • When Strange finally reaches Dormammu, the dread lord of the realm tries to dismiss him as an underling if the Ancient One. When Doctor Strange announces that he is Earth’s mystical protector, Dormammu threatens to destroy him.
  • To be continued next issue…

Is It Good?

The Torch/Thing story isn’t bad. The villains do the whole “I’ll just assume that my evil plan has worked, and the hero is dead —- no need to verify anything” bit, but whatever. It’s fine.

The Doctor Strange story was only okay, but the art was very cool. Ditko drawing bizarre, trippy, and abstract things is a treat, and Dormammu’s flaming head is an inspired bit of character design.

Continuity:

  • The Mad Thinker and Puppet Master last appeared in Fantastic Four #28.
  • This is the first appearance of Dormammu. His name has been invoked by Doctor Strange a number of times before now, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen him.

  • This is also the first appearance of Clea, a denizen if the Dark Domain. She is not named in this issue.

  • This is also the first appearance of the Dark Dimension. It’s where Dormammu lives, I guess.
  • Dormammu punishes his underlings by banishing them to Limbo. It is unclear what version of Limbo he sends them to.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Yes, now that you know that your plan isn’t working, this is clearly the best time to stop watching and assume everything goes to plan.

  • Apparently, “nearly magical,” is a euphemism for “radioactive.”

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • In case you were wondering, the New York Mets were 53-109 in 1964, which is abysmal. I also really like the idea of the Mad Thinker being a baseball fan. With his intelligence, why is t he making a fortune betting on sports?!?

<<<Strange Tales #125

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