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The Greatest Doctor Strange Stories Ever Told!

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Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Doctor Strange Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

When appropriate, I figured I’d use the descriptions that P-Tor (from Sanctum Sanctorum Comix sent in with his votes

10. “Final Curtain” Doctor Strange, Master of Mystic Arts #10-13

Here’s P-Tor:

Steve Englehart and Gene Clan present some truly epic stuff! The total destruction of Earth! No. Seriously. But what happens AFTERwards… ahhh

9. “The Origin of Dr. Strange” Strange Tales #115

Written by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and drawn by Ditko, I think this is definitely one of the very best origins of all Marvel Silver Age heroes. I think only one other hero’s origin outstrips this one and unsurprisingly, it was the OTHER one by Steve Ditko.

8. “Oath” Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5

This series, written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by the brilliant Marcos Martin (with inks by Alvaro Lopez), helped in a many ways to set up Doctor Strange for his inclusion in Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers. The series introduces a new take on the Night Nurse character, this time as an underground medic of sorts for superheroes.

7. “To Have Loved and Lost” Doctor Strange #55

Here’s P-Tor:

Considered to be the BEST issue of Doctor Strange. Written by Roger Stern, This is the famous issue drawn by Michael Golden and Terry Austin) Part straight-up super-hero tale/part “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Awesome!

6. “The Domain of the Dread Dormammu!” Strange Tales #126-127

In a glimpse of what was soon to come, this is the first multi-issue arc in Strange Tales. The Dread Dormammu had been mentioned before, but in this issue Steve Ditko and Stan Lee finally introduce us to the villain as Doctor Strange comes into contact with him as well as Clea, who makes her debut in this story. At the end of the arc, when Strange has managed to keep Dormammu at bay, Strange gains his cloak of levitation!

The top five is on the next page!

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40 Comments

No Paul Smith?? No Marshall Rogers?? I should have voted! I would probably have put the Stern/Rogers Morgana Blessing epic at #2 and the Stern/Smith Dark Dimension epic at #3. (There’s no disputing #1, of course)

I thought Iron Man had the second best Silver Age Marvel origin personally.

The Oath was great – it should have paved the way for a new ongoing written by Vaughan. That said, X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl was even better.

Pretty damn solid list. Of course, no reasonable person can dispute the number one ranking of THE ETERNITY SAGA; it’s a highpoint not only for Dr Strange but also for Silver Age comics as a whole. My only quibble involves the failure to include stories from the Stern-Marshall Rogers run. That was some fantastic work.

Five out of ten – pretty good for me. Usually only 2-3 of my picks make these lists. For what it’s worth, given a few comments above, my other five votes were mainly for stuff from Stern’s run with the art by either Rogers or Smith.
By the way, I’m a bit surprised at the cut-off for the Montesi Formula – I always thought that story really started about 2 issues earlier.

No mention of Gene Colan?? Sise-Neg?? Bumping into Tom Wolfe in Times Square on New Years Eve??
How very disappointing!

Five out of ten for me too. Wish more Stern stuff had shown up but Englehart has a devoted following, particularly around here, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

oh my god, stan lee’s dr. strange is among the WORST comics ever.

Some very good choices here. Number 1 is exactly what I thought it would be. I am surprised the Morganna Blessing “soul shard” arc from the Roger Stern-Marshall Rogers run didn’t make it. It led up to the Stern-Golden issue that always gets the accolades (but isn’t actually as good). It’s in Dr. Strange 48-53 (Aug. ’81-June ’82). Number 53 features an elaborate tie-in with Fantastic Four 19 (published 19 years previously). In my opinion, this is an unjustly overlooked run.

My Doctor Strange reading is pretty limited (despite the fact I have always loved the name). I think I have read the Silver Dagger story (Doctor Strange Special Edition, right), and I have the first Masterworks.

I have been meaning to get the Englehart and Stern runs, and would love to see Marvel re-release the second Masterworks volume (hardcover prices are a bit high right now).

@mckracken –

I honestly don’t know if this is supposed to be a troll post or not.

*sigh*

Like many of these lists, I’ve read some of this stuff but not most of it. I’m working on it! Why must I be such a slow reader??

Nobody voted for the Peter Gillis Strange Tales?

Pretty telling that, aside from the Oath, there aren’t any “modern” Dr. Strange stories on this list. I don’t think anyone’s had a real handle on the good doctor for a long time now. It probably doesn’t help that he keeps getting mixed up in super teams and big events when he should just be off doing his own thing.

interesting picks including the oath . and also amazed to learn that there is a doctor strange story so controversial the creative team had to even fake a fan letter to have it see print and keep stan lee from regretting it.

I am surprised the Morganna Blessing “soul shard” arc from the Roger Stern-Marshall Rogers run didn’t make it.

I’m surprised, as well, to be honest, since it did pretty well when we did the Roger Stern voting but it wasn’t even in the Top 15 during this voting! Well, maybe Top 15. I mean, obviously, people DID vote for it, just not nearly as much as they did during the Stern voting.

The Cagliostro story is the one with Sise-Neg (“I, Sise-Neg am now … Genesis!”).
While I wouldn’t put Strange’s battle with the Sons of Satannish in the top ten, it has one awesome sequence by Gene Colan (descending from a rain swept street to the cult meeting in the sewer) and completely blindsided me about one of the characters.
I

This is a good list, though I thought we’d see P. Craig Russell’s “What is it that disturbs you Steven?” on here. I also really like the Marvel Fanfare issue by Simonson & Gibbons, and Doctor Strange 56, which is sort of a “Doctor Strange 101″ comic, by Stern, Smith, and Austin. I first found out about that one in Wizard’s “Good & Cheap” way back in the day.

joe the poor speller

April 14, 2013 at 7:18 pm

no love for into shamballa?

“What is it that disturbs you Steven?”
into shamballa

Both obvious picks that somehow came up short.

Oh! Oh! The “Eternity Saga” is one of my favorite stories ever. The entire Ditko run is just astonishing. No one has ever matched the heights of his psychedelic style, and the undercurrents of darkness and longing are even more powerful here than in Spider-Man. I probably would have voted for his and Lee’s story from Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 2 too. And the Englehart/Brunner run is another favorite of mine. It’s as good as Moore’s Swamp Thing. Too bad it’s so short.

I’ve read a bit of the original Lee/Ditko stuff and liked it, and now will have to read a lot more. But I do want to go on record and say that I loved the Simonson/Gibbons Marvel Fanfare one-shot, and was HUGELY bummed when I didn’t see “Into the Dark Dimension!” I loved that story!

irritant, I agree 100 percent that Ditko’s work was amazing. It’s one of the few Marvel collections I went for in color because without it, a lot of the effect is lost.
That goes for his co-plotting, too. I thought Dr. Strange went downhill in a way Spider-Man didn’t after Ditko left. Stan Lee didn’t seem to have the same sense for supernatural thrills. And one story that tried to inject Spidey-style realism (Dr. Strange can’t pay his bills! People wonder why he walks around in that weird cape!) fell horribly flat (though I’m not sure off the top of my head if that was Lee’s work).

This list definitely makes me want to re-read Essential Doctor Strange Vol 1. It’s been several years since I’ve looked at my copy, and I’m interested in experiencing “The Eternity Saga” again.

some of my votes made it but some didn’t
like the Morganna Blessing time travel one, and the first Annual, and Into Shamballa, and I Dormammu and The Faust Gambit
I also wanted to vote for the Dormamu story in 6-9 and Clea’s revolution and the issue where the evil magicians were posing as a film crew and the following issue with wannabe disciples or the sons of Satannish (for the Colan art) and I was tempted by Doctor Stranger yet…

How do we get a best of Dr Strange list that doesn’t include the conclusion of the Shuma Gorath story? Admittedly the early parts are sort of rocky but the concluding parts with the death of the Ancient One are brilliant. The artwork was amazing and a precursor to the Silver Dagger work.

Doctor Strange is my all-time favorite Marvel character, and so I’ve had the joy of reading nearly all of his adventures, including all the stories on this list. I regret not knowing about the vote for this list as I would have enjoyed contributing my thoughts on my favorites. There are always unfortunate omissions in lists like this, and I, like some other contributors, have a couple of Doctor Strange stories I think could have been included:

Marvel Premiere #9, 10 (1973): Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner’s classic 2 issue conclusion to the Shuma-Gorath storyline which began in Marvel Premiere #3. It was the beginning of their classic contribution to the character.

Doctor Strange Annual #1 (1976): An early masterwork by comic artist P. Craig Russell, this story was originally a solo adventure of the Sorceror Supreme created by Mr. Russell, but once published in the first Doctor Strange Annual, it became part of a multi-part tale that came to be called “The Creators Chronicles,” featured in Doctor Strange #20-28. Mr. Russell would create a revised version of this story in a special one-shot comic, “What is It That Disturbs You, Steven?” released by Marvel in 1997.

Doctor Strange #48-53 (1981-1982). A truly great time travel adventure of the Mystic Master, written by Roger Stern, and illustrated by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin. During the tale, Dr. Strange meets Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos in World War II and ‘shares’ an adventure with the Fantastic Four in ancient Egypt. Not to mention encountering, Baron Mordo, the Dread Dormammu, and Nightmare, too! This story arc is a magical artistic companion piece to Mr. Rogers and Mr. Austin’s work with Steve Englehart on my other favorite superhero character, The Batman, in Detective Comics #471-476 (1977-1978). While these Bat-tales are rightfully considered classics, this Doctor Strange story-arc is memorable, too, but has gotten little recognition. I believe it is far superior to “The Oath” mini-series from 2006, which is featured on the list.

I lament the fact that Marvel doesn’t seem to have a grasp of telling new tales worthy of this great character. I miss him.

Scott Harris

May 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

“Nobody voted for the Peter Gillis Strange Tales?”

I did! It was #1 on my list.

First: MAJOR APOLOGIES!!!

I know I said I would post my pics for this voting here (a MONTH ago) but I usually only have weekends to do my comic-web-surfs and the past few weeks have been crazy-busy. (Although, I never said WHEN I’d post them here so… minor loophole. lol)

PLUS, add to that the fact that I was planning on tossing in some of my REAL story-arc loves, since the list which I sent in for the votes excluded many of them (because they would have been unpopular choices and thus, “throw-away” votes).

And THIRDLY, because I TRULY plan on turning my “best of” lists into a blog-post series on my SanctumSanctorumComix blog some time soon, and didn’t want to ruin things by revealing many of them here now.

As a side note: I was taken aback slightly by the article quoting some of my off-hand comments.
Had I known that I was to be referenced, I’d have written a bit better.
But, still… it was an honor to be used as such.

SO, ALL That being said… HERE is the email that I submitted as my votes (warts and all).

—-

Here are my TOP 10 Doctor Strange COMIC stories.

(I made sure to rearrange them into “BEST OF” order – since this is merely a small snippet, cut and pasted from a larger post forum post, that I wrote awhile ago to help out newbie Doc readers who were looking for good Dr. Strange comics. Every few months, I paste it somewhere else whenever I see a thread asking “What are the best Doc stories?”. SO it makes sense to use it here now. It was originally written in Published order, but I edited it for this email to be in good standing with the RULES.)

——-

1) * Strange Tales v1 # 130-146 (Classic Stan Lee / Steve Ditko!)
These issues form an arc that is considered by many to be the FIRST true “American Graphic Novel” – it deals with Strange’s search for Eternity and his being hunted and hounded across the globe by Dormammu and Baron Mordo. It’s got EVERYTHING! Lots of mysticism! Doc has to escape from deadly foes blind & powerless while his head and hands are encased in irons! Dormammu vs Eternity! Steve Ditko INVENTING new visual techniques! What more do you need?) This can be found in the first Dr. Strange ESSENTIAL volume, but alas… the loss of color does take a little away from it all. THESE WERE reprinted in COLOR in the 4-issue DOCTOR STRANGE CLASSICS (a deluxe reprint series from the 1980’s on beautiful white Baxter Paper) Of ALL the ways to get these stories, aside from MASTERWORKS hardcovers, this is the best way. But, then again, Marvel has released PAPERBACKS of some MASTERWORKS (Doc’s got two already, and these issues are in the first – iirc).

2) * Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa (original graphic novel)
– Beautifully painted! If I could only keep ONE single “issue” of Doc… it might be THIS. By J.M. DeMatteis with art by Dan Green.

3)STRANGE TALES v2: “DARK DOCTOR STRANGE”*
* I should note another of MY all-time favorite Dr. Strange story arcs… but while it is neither one for the uninitiated, nor is it bound to be popular to the general populace, it still holds a place in my mind as one of the best:

It is an arc that follows Strange in his loss of much of his power and abilities in using “white” magic, his being tutored by an old foe in the ways of “black” magic in order to defeat ancient evils that he had released, the ascension to the greatest levels of that dark magic, and then the long journey back to white magician.

Starting in DOCTOR STRANGE : MASTER OF THE MYSTIC ARTS # 75-81 (although if pressed, you could jump to issue # 79 and start there) continued to the end of that series with # 81, then continues in his next (shared) title; STRANGE TALES v2 from # 1 – 19. It then continues into Doc’s new title; DOCTOR STRANGE : SORCERER SUPREME in issues # 1-2 (but technically doesn’t fully wrap up until issue # 4).

The crux of it is in the STRANGE TALESv2 issues which can be found pretty cheap, OR you can get the recent reprinting of the arc in the DOCTOR STRANGE : STRANGE TALES TPB.

Written by Peter B. Gillis with art by several illustrators (including Chris Warner, and Richard Case). It’s one of my all-time faves

4) * Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 10-13 *
-Steve Englehart and Gene Clan present some truly epic stuff! The total destruction of Earth! No. Seriously. But what happens AFTERwards… ahhhh- however… if you really want to grasp that arc, it helps if you read one that came some months before:)

5) * Marvel Premier # 9 – 14*
– Doctor Strange vs Shuma Gorath! The Death of the Ancient One! And Doctor Strange and Mordo go back in time and aid in the creation of the Universe! (although # 11 is mostly reprinted stuff of Doc’s origin and first battle with Mordo) this arc also features my all-time favorite Doctor Strange scene which opens issue # 12. Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner (mostly)

6) * Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 55*
(considered to be the BEST issue of Doctor Strange. Written by Roger Stern, This is the famous issue drawn by Michael Golden) Part straight-up super-hero tale / part “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Awesome!
* Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 56 (whenever an issue of Doc is reprinted in an “origins” or “best of Marvel” trade, THIS is the issue they use. Written by Roger Stern. Drawn by Paul Smith.) Informative and excellent. Part origin recap / part super-hero kick-butt story with mystic twists.

Really, 55 & 56 are sort of part of the same story (and part of a larger arc: CLEA leaving Stephen and Morgana entering the picture, but those two issues are – either alone or counting as an arc, MUST HAVES) and all-time bests!

7) * Doctor Strange : Master of the Mystic Arts # 1-5*
– (the Silver Dagger saga – although much of # 3 is reprinting of early Lee/Ditko material as the creative team missed the print deadline) It was reprinted in one volume: DOCTOR STRANGE vs SILVER DAGGER # 1 (a Baxter paper deluxe edition) and the excellent “A SEPARATE REALITY” trade paperback by Steve Englehart & Frank Brunner.

8) * The Oath *
(quite possibly the best Doc story in many a year). Brian K. Vaughan story. Marcos Martin art. Some super-hero! Some detective mystery! Some magic! A little love and comedy! Classic!

9) * Doctor Strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts # 68-74*
– (instead of my summarizing it, here’s the ad copy for the collected edition (“INTO THE DARK DIMENSION” TPB/HC ) “Doctor Strange starts his day by curing a mystically cursed sword and ends it by overthrowing a dimensional dictator! The Sorcerer Supreme faces threats on cruise ships, military bases and alien planets, seeking to restore the cosmic balance! And as the origins of the Dark Dimension stand revealed, Strange’s true love, Clea, heads the rebellion against her evil mother, Umar! Featuring the Black Knight and the Beyonder!”

It’s not one that I would consider his “best”, but it IS right up there!
I mean, it DOES have everything:
Roger Stern story, Paul Smith art, Black Knight, Clea, Strange doing unorthodox things in otherdimensional places…
Not every story is a gem, but overall it’s worth getting (especially as it’s reproduced in such a nice and affordable book).

10) * Dr. Strange & Dr. Doom : Triumph and Torment (original graphic novel) *
– Doctor Strange helps Doctor Doom rescue Doom’s mother from Mephisto in Hell! This wins the “Doc’s best of” list for many fans. (Story by Roger Stern. Drawn by Mike “Hellboy” Mignola). It would be higher on my list if it weren’t more of a DOOM story than a STRANGE one.

———

As I said, I DO have other, perhaps MORE favorited arcs, and while I intended to list them here, I think that I had best hold them in reserve so that future blog series has some mystery (and meat – but NOT “mystery meat”).

~P~

Man, I had forgotten Stern had a great run on Dr. Strange too. Maybe the most underrated comic writer of all time.

Sounds like #2 had a Comic Book Legend written all over it. Maybe it was already done.

And, billing aside, I’m not sure #3 isn’t more a Dr. Doom story than Dr. Strange. But since that qualifies I’ll mention Amazing Spider-man Annual 14….Spidey, Strange, Dr. Doom, Dormammu…all drawn by Frank Miller (and Tom Palmer) and written by Denny O’Neil. (Even Hitler makes a cameo)

Superb post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte
more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could
elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!

So I picked up the Doctor Strange Classic series from the 80s to get The Eternity Saga cheaply as recommended here, but that series only reprints the first 2/3 of it (it covers issues 130-141). From what I understand, issues 142-146 are the best parts. Why wouldn’t Marvel have just made that Classics series 6 issues instead of 4 to cover the whole thing? Are those other issues reprinted in any comics? I know I can get them in the Essential and Masterworks collections, but I want color and don’t want to pay the Masterworks price tag.

@Third Man

This is my favorite edition:
http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=596111

Vol. 2 is the entire Eternity saga. Please note it is the size of a paperback novel, but the coloring is imho better than the Masterworks stuff.

[…] site CBR fez uma lista com as melhores histórias do Mestre das Artes Mística, o Dr. Estranho! E o […]

And about “shangrila” ?

“Into Shamballa” !!!! C’mon guys! “Into Shamballa” was freakin AWESOME. Incredible pastel and water color art in a great graphic novel and a very heady yet uplifting metaphysical tale that is perfect Strange fodder.

Yeah, P. Craig Russell’s Dr. Strange Annual should have been in there.

http://frpeneaud.free.fr/artists/Russell/ImagesRussell/Strange03.jpg

What about Gene Colan? No list is respectable without Gene Colans 60s stories!

Another chime in for “How was Into Shamballa missed?”

It was MP 4-10, that really hooked me,along with Mp 12-14,andDS 1-5.Such a shame they lost such a perfect writer artist team.Englehart and Brunner I beleave.

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