Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #137

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1965

Cover Artist: John Severin

“The Prize is…Earth!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Pencillers: Jack Kirby (layouts), John Severin

Inker: John Severin

“When Meet the Mystic Minds!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

In the Nick Fury story, the agents of SHIELD struggle against the forces of Hydra.

In the Doctor Strange story, the Doctor finally learns the secret of Eternity!

Details:

In the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD story:

  • Agents of SHIELD have obtained some important microfilm, but they are having trouble getting it to SHIELD headquarters safely. The first agent sacrifices his life to pass the microfilm on…

  • …But the receiving agents are eventually stopped by Hydra. Before the enemy can capture them, though, the agents hit a self-destruct button on their vehicle. The agents —- and the microfilm —- are gone for good.

  • The microfilm contained the secret launching location for Hydra’s Betatron bomb, an orbital missile with immense destructive powers. If that missile is put in orbit, Hydra will be able to smite the nations of Earth at will!

  • Nick Fury takes Dum-Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones with him to the Balkans to stop the launch. They don’t know exactly where the missile will be launched from, though, so they don’t have much of a chance.

  • In fact, as Fury’s plane is landing, the Supreme Leader of Hydra fires his missile into orbit!

  • To be continued…!

In the Doctor Strange story:

  • Having failed to discover the secret of Eternity elsewhere, Doctor Strange has returned to the remote spot where he left the Ancient One to heal. With no other options, Strange will have to get the secret from the Ancient One’s mind —- but will the Ancient One survive such an ordeal in his weakened state?

  • To help the Ancient One survive the stress of such an endeavor, Doctor Strange uses his amulet to give his mentor strength. Paradoxically, this will make Strange’s job more difficult, because the Ancient One will be able to better defend himself as he gets stronger.

  • Sure enough, when Strange makes mental contact with the Ancient One, his weakened master believes Strange to be an impostor and defends himself.

  • After struggling through a few of the Ancient One’s mental defenses, Doctor Strange tries a different tactic —- and it works!

  • The Ancient One shares the secret of Eternity with his pupil.

  • With this new knowledge, Doctor Strange departs. He casts a powerful spell and vanishes —- and not a moment too soon! Baron Mordo senses the magic Strange was using and just barely misses the hero as he departs.

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

This is another good issue. The Doctor Strange story feels like it has momentum, and the SHIELD story does a good job of raising the stakes. Both tales were fast-paced and made me look forward to next issue. What more can you ask for?

The artwork was very good again. Steve Ditko continues to shine on Doctor Strange. John Severin’s work looks very nice, and it doesn’t feel like he’s aping Marvel’s house style at all —- even though he is working with Jack Kirby’s layouts again.

Continuity:

  • Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, and Gabriel Jones all last appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #3. This is the first time Dugan or Jones have appeared as SHIELD agents in this title.
  • Agent G last appeared in Strange Tales #135, as Agent H. We learn in this issue that she is the daughter of Hydra’s Imperial Leader, and she does not believe in Hydra’s cause.

  • Nick Fury now has spy clothes: a backwards-looking hat, a radio necktie, and an explosive dress shirt. Oh, and his suit is made of bulletproof steel.

  • We get a diagram of Nick Fury’s spy-fedora.

  • It is once again noted that Tony Stark is the technology designer for SHIELD.

  • This is the first appearance of Desmond Boothroyd, the SHIELD equivalent of James Bond’s Q.

  • This is the first appearance of Leslie Farrington and Arnold Brown. They work for Imperial Industries International.
  • Hydra’s secret underground headquarters can be accessed through a secret entrance in Imperial Industries International’s corporate office.

  • Cut off a limb, blah blah blah.

  • The Ancient One, though still injured, appears to be recovering.

  • The Eye of Agamotto can sometimes work as a dimensional portal, I guess.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It’s weird that the Avengers or Fantastic Four aren’t called in to help with Hydra, isn’t it?

  • Fun fact: the Atlanta Hawks paid Carmelo Anthony $25.5 million to not play on their team in 2018-2019. Life is cheap, and inflation is crazy.

  • Giving Nick Fury an explosive dress shirt seems like an easy way to kill him. Even if the explosion can only happen after the shirt is ripped, do you realize how often Fury’s army uniform used to get shredded?

  • I’m going to file this under “acronyms I expect to only see once.”

  • “Your reward is this bag, taken from a cartoon bank.”

  • This is a great way to skip the part where you would normally write a spell into the script.

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