Cover Date: October 1965
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
“The Wondrous World of Doctor Strange”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
Spider-Man stumbles upon a Doctor Strange adventure, and the heroes team up!
- A sorcerer named Xandu mentally enslaves two local thugs to be his go-fers on a mission.
- The mission: steal an artifact from Doctor Strange!
- The thugs —- who are merely Xandu’s puppets at this point, extremely strong and impervious to pain —- break into Doctor Strange’s home. With the element of surprise on their side, they overpower Strange, find the artifact, and leave with it.
- Spider-Man happens by as the two thugs are sneaking out of Strange’s rooftop window, and assumes (rightly) that they are crooks. However, he is also surprised by their strength and resistance to his punches. They knock him down and continue with their return to Xandu —- but not before Spidey places a spider-tracer on them.
- The artifact completes the once-broken Wand of Watoomb, which gives Xandu immense destructive power, as well as an ability to access other dimensions.
- Having tracked the thugs to Xandu’s sanctum, Spider-Man knocks the Wand away from the sorcerer before he can remotely attack the unconscious Doctor Strange. Xandu warps Spidey to another dimension, but not before the hero grabs the wand and takes it into the unknown.
- This move forces Xandu to send his thugs after Spider-Man. Spidey can only hope to hitch a ride back to Earth with them at some point, but can he do it without losing the Wand of Watoomb?
- Meanwhile, Doctor Strange awakens and realizes what was taken from him. He tracks the thugs to Xandu’s sanctum and attacks the villain. Without the Wand, Xandu is clearly outmatched.
- Xandu uses his powers to bring back Spidey and his thugs, who are still struggling over the Wand of Watoomb. Xandu snatches the Wand and, with its power, begins to overpower Doctor Strange.
- Having more power than Strange or Spidey doesn’t give Xandu more awareness, though. When the two heroes begin to attack in tandem, the villain is unable to counter them both simultaneously. They quickly disarm and subdue Xandu.
- Doctor Strange neutralizes the Wand of Watoomb and Xandu, and the heroes part as allies.
Is It Good?
This was a fun story. Seeing Spider-Man dealing with magic is pretty novel at this point, and Steve Ditko’s artwork is great. There’s not much to the story — and it is definitely more of a Doctor Strange story than a Spider-Man Tale —but Spidey and Doctor Strange team-up without fighting, so that’s a nice change of pace.
- This annual also includes reprints of the first story from Amazing Spider-Man #1, the Tinkerer story from Amazing Spider-Man #2, and all of Amazing Spider-Man #5.
- This is the first time Spider-Man and Doctor Strange have met. Well, technically, Strange’s astral projection encountered Peter Parker in passing in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, but it was for only a panel or two.
- This appears to take place after (well, maybe before) the Eternity storyline currently running in Strange Tales, because Doctor Strange isn’t on the run from Baron Mordo and Dormammu.
- This is the first appearance of the evil sorcerer, Xandu.
- This is also the first appearance of the Wand of Watoomb. It can project energy, view remote locations and project energy/mystical attacks to the remote location, and can access other dimensions.
- Doctor Strange can apparently drain the magic from enchanted artifacts.
- We’ve got some villain pin-ups in this issue, too. They’re all pencilled and inked by Steve Ditko.
- Pin-up #1: the Circus of Crime
- Pin-up #2: the Scorpion
- Pin-up #3 (and my favorite of the bunch): the Beetle
- Pin-up #4: Jonah’s Robot (I guess it’s not an official Spider-Slayer yet)
- Pin-up #5: the Crime Master
Comics Are Goofy:
- Holy crap! Doctor Strange just erases this guy’s mind and changed his personality! That’s some villainous stuff!