Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Classics - Strange Tales #146

   As proof that all good things come to an end, this issue of Strange Tales was the final adventure of Doctor Strange 
(presumably plotted and) drawn by master artist Steve Ditko.

   To send him off in style, for the first time that hero was given a solo appearance on the cover - although it's not an original drawing by Ditko. It's an image pieced together from two panels in the story.

   Still, it's mighty powerful, and for the rest of the run, Strange would alternate covers with Nick Fury and SHIELD.

   (Nick has a solid adventure in this issue, as his team invades an AIM stronghold and faces an army of powerful androids - a good story, but it pales next to the events in the second feature.)

   The title of the story is "The End -- at Last!" - and it certainly lives up to that, as it wraps up all the loose ends and storylines that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko had been building for over a year. (Interesting to note that the story is scripted by Dennis O'Neil.)

   The story starts with an enraged Dormammu, who's desperate to get his revenge on Strange - but he's honor-bound not to attack the Earth, so he lures Strange to another dimension by the attacking the powerful being known as Eternity!

   Strange rises to the bait and manages to survive only because he frees Eternity, who's angry at Dormammu's audacity. But the dreaded one ups the ante by launching a direct attack on the massive cosmic being!

    What follows is shocking - and two splash pages are needed to capture the cataclysm!

    To say more about the story and the stunning events that follow would spoil too much - but it's the kind of over-the-top, world-shaking event that's oh so rare in comics. (This is what the rest of them aspire to be.)

   If you're going to wrap up your run on a title, here's a prime example of how to do it - blow everything up and wrap up all our storylines to give the next guy (or gal) a clean slate to work with.

   Heck, they even finally revealed the name of the white-haired mystery woman who had saved Strange several times!

   Simply tremendous work, and a testament to Ditko's mastery of the comic book arts.

Grade: A+