Strange Thoughts

I recently had an urge to try one of the recent attempts at restarting Doctor Strange. I was in one of the local comic shops when I saw the collection of J.M. Straczynski’s six issue “STRANGE.” Being the cheap so and so that I am I decided to buy it on-line and save some money but then later in my errand running I saw it on the shelf at the library, so I checked it out.

Overall, I thought it not bad as far as a modern retelling of the Doctor’s origins but I have to wonder just why such retooling is necessary. While Ditko and Lee did the original origin in eight pages JMS pumped it up to six issues just to tell the same story and get a lot more money out of the customer base. I think Ditko in the original set the spooky oriental mystic mood much better than Brandon Peterson did in this remake.

I got a “Matrix” feel from this version. Whereas the seminal Doctor Strange has many elements from the classic film “Lost Horizon” (which, of course, would mean nothing to the modern comic buying audience) while overlaying some “Matrix” elements on Straczynski’s version would definitely strike a chord with their target audience

I’ve read that Ditko had Ronald Colman in mind as his model for Stephen Strange and perhaps some of his drawings of the Doc’s face during his tenure may have that resemblance when I was scanning some panels from a reprint of the origin I saw a different actor entirely. Gilbert Roland. He was still a relatively big star at the time Ditko and Lee would have been creating the Master of the Mystic Arts. See what you think.

One thing I noticed that is a marked difference between then and now is the time it takes Stephen Strange to become the Master of the Mystic Arts in each version.

Ditko’s mage studies “years” to get to the point where he appeared in comics and several real time years thereafter to finally get shed of the Ancient One and become the Sorcerer Supreme! While JMS’ Strange begrudged “five weeks of sheer hell” to get the basic powers and by the end of the six issues he got the top spot. I see that as a reflection of the generations. In the sixties comics were written and drawn by men for whom long periods of struggle and apprenticeship were a fact of life. The younger generation expects everything to fall in their laps much more quickly, like a time compressed dissolve in film or a one page montage in comics.

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