Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Doctor Still Makes House Calls!-Strange Tales #120

"Not often does Doctor Strange walk the city streets!"- Yeah, I wouldn't leave the house in that outfit either! *rimshot*

The reason Doctor Stephen Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts has deemed to soil himself by condescending to walk amongst us lowly mortals is that, once again, our very existence is threatened by forces beyond our very comprehension. In other words, there's a haunted house and he wants to check it out.

Apparently, the house has enough of a reputation that a TV crew has come to send a reporter inside the house and report his findings live on television. Unfortunately, this being the early 1960's, TV cameras are huge and not at all easy to take with you. Which means that reporter Allen Stevens has to go inside the haunted house and describe what he sees via microphone. Maybe this would have been a better story for radio??

To make sure Stevens is safe, Dr. Strange assumes his ectoplasmic or "unphysical" form and attempts to enter the house. Surprisingly, he is unable to do so. Returning to his body, Strange falls back on his old standby, his magic amulet. Using it's all-seeing eye, Strange observes Stevens within the house. Stevens observes an old oil lamp floating in the air, and then sees something which shocks him so greatly he fears for his sanity.

Strange immediately pushes the crowd out of his way (magically, no less) and enters the house. He witnesses the same floating lamp, which does not scare him. Next, he is encircled in a thick, swirling mist, but Strange is unimpressed with such cheap theatrics:

The mists form themselves into a cage. Strange shouts a lot of mystical mumbo-jumbo and dispells them. The good Doctor talks a little smack to the house and the house replies indignantly in a disembodied (and, I have to assume, otherworldly) voice. Strange demands the release of the reporter or he will reveal the house's true secret. The house consents and then asks Strange to keep his bargain. Strange says he will keep the house's secret,as no-one would believe:

Um, yeah. So, is the house an extradimensional being appearing in the form of a house? Or is there some dimension populated with sentient houses? And if you wanted to observe us, is pretending to be haunted and hiding in the boonies the best way??

This all reminds me of a show from my childhood: The Six-Million Dollar Man. There's a famous story cycle where Col. Steve Austin goes looking for Big Foot. When he finds Big Foot, it turns out that the Sasquatch is really an android, built by an alien race. These aliens live in a hidden, underground complex and have built and sent Big Foot as a way to "observe humanity". First of all, the aliens look just like us. All they hadda do was go into town to observe humanity. Second, is the best way to "observe" humanity to build a 7-foot monster and set it loose in an area so remote no-one ever goes there?? I never got that.

My rendering of events as I recall them.

Any way, I love early Doctor Strange stories. And, yeah, I know I kinda panned Ditko a couple of weeks ago, but his work on this issue was really atmospheric and creepy.

For the rest of what went on in this issue, check out Pat's summary at Silver Age Comics.


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