Welcome to The Daily Rios’ entry for the Super-Blog Team Up on Magic!
In anticipation of this week’s release of the new Doctor Strange movie, an invitation was sent by Charlton Hero of The SuperHero Satellite to once again participate in another round of the Super-Blog Team Up – where several bloggers and podcasters come together around a single subject in an effort to create a crossover event for readers to enjoy. This time around the subject is Magic, with a sub-focus on Dr. Strange should we so choose. I’ve been dropping the other participants’ blog posts all day on Twitter and you can find the links to their respective posts at the bottom of this entry.
For my subject, I decided to pick a one-off tale that combined Dr. Strange with DC’s powerful sorcerer, Dr. Fate. And when I say combined, I mean that literally! Because my topic is on:
From DC and Marvel’s Amalgam line of comics, spinning out of the DC vs Marvel event, comes this beautifully drawn oneshot where writer Ron Marz introduces readers to the amalgamated being known as Doctor StrangeFate. Under the combined artistry team of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and inker Kevin Nolan – Doctors Strange and Fate (with a surprise third character added to the mix) become one and the results are… immortally supreme. Along with Matt Hollingsworth on colors and Chris Eliopoulos on letters, the creative team does a great job guiding readers into the story even if you haven’t read the mini-series from which it’s spawned. It’s been years since I’ve read the DC vs Marvel event myself (and I never really got over Marvel winning by one round. Grrrrr) but the set-up is fairly simple to grasp: a new character named Access (owned by both DC and Marvel) finds himself in a world that shouldn’t exist, a world that combines the DC and Marvel universes. Called the Amalgam Universe, cosmic beings of each respective universes are responsible for the merging, in a panicked effort to save them both. Access knows this merged universe shouldn’t exist and it’s up to him to eventually separate the universes in order to save them.
With this issue, Doctor StrangeFate has become aware of Access and is worried. Because if Access accomplishes his task, StrangeFate knows his universe, and his role as Protector within that universe, will come to an end. In a scene that could have come from Tomb of Dracula or Night Force, Doctor StrangeFate calls forth his agents to seek out Access and bring him back to the Doctor’s home. Eventually Access and the Doctor meet face to face and we learn that the good Doctor is not completely benevolent or unselfish – in order to preserve his Amalgamated universe, he’s more than willing to destroy any chance for the two merged universes to ever exist again. Eventually, Access escapes, leaving behind a failed Doctor StrangeFate in a scene that finally reveals to readers the man under that golden helmet (the clues are somewhat there throughout the issue). While this issue ends on StrangeFate’s frustration, elements will continue in the DC vs Marvel event and in a few surprise followups in later unrelated comics.
What I love the most about this comic, in relation to the topic of Magic for this crossover team-up, is the way the art manages to combined the visual language developed for the characters of Doctors Strange and Fate. The combination of the DC and Marvel Universes is what made this event fun and while some titles were certainly more well thought-out than others – few had the level of craft that comes with this amazing creative team. From the use of varying camera angles, magical spells, symbols, atmosphere, setting – all of it is brand new in its combination, but very familiar as well. And all of it stunning!
Although they are more well known in the Dr. Strange universe of comics, both characters have cloaks and amulets that enhance their abilities. Dr. Fate’s full golden helm is clearly on display in the overall design, helping to hide the identity of the man underneath. There are also ankhs on the costume that evoke the Fate character of this era of 90s comics, the man known as Jared Stevens. It’s an imposing figure, especially drawn by Garcia-Lopez, the master draftsman.
While it’s abundantly clear in design that this character is a mix of Doctors Strange and Fate (and the mysterious third identity), I’d even argue that, storywise, there’s a bit of Hugo Strange thrown in as well. Especially since the story has a slight psychological bent to it (a clue to that third identity), takes place in New Gotham City (Gotham City meets New York), and involves Arkham Asylum (the combined Tower Sanctorum sits right on top of Arkham). From the comic itself, the way StrangeFate sits on his chair reminds me of Hugo Strange taking his place in the Batcave while donning the Bat-costume. It’s absolutely a stretch on my part, and not evident in the story at all, but fun to think about nonetheless. Body language is a powerful tool in Garcia-Lopez’s arsenal and he uses it well for this magical comic. His forms have weight, especially in relation to their surroundings, and StrangeFate’s mood, as he contemplates his future and the future of his universe, is spot on throughout the entire issue. It’s a true amalgamation of words and pictures.
If you’re a fan of either character, you owe it to yourself to pick this issue up. There are many other amalgamations in the comic that are incredibly fun to witness and the mock letter column is surprisingly informative in filling in the imaginary backstory of this title. From the content to the craft, magic is definitely a word I would use for this gem of a comicbook.
And be sure to visit all the other blogs in this Magical Super-Blog Team Up to read other takes on Dr. Fate, Dr. Strange and more! You won’t be disappointed!
LongBox Graveyard: Doctor Strange vs. Dracula
Between The Pages: The Wondrous Worlds of Doctor Strange
DC In The 80s: Magic edition: Examining The Immortal Doctor Fate v1 (1985)
The Unspoken Decade: Nighttime Sunburn: Rise Of The Midnight Sons
Crapbox Son Of Chuthulu: The Makings of a Sorcerer Supreme: Optimism and Sacrifice
Chris Is On Infinite Earths Blog: Batman Visits the Sanctum Sanctorum
Coffee and Comics Blog: Review: Doctor Strange #84
The Retroist: The OTHER Dr. Strange Film
The SuperHero Satellite: Strange Magic