Monday, August 29, 2005

Strange Is As Strange Does


So, let me start by bowing to Neilalien's mastery of all things Doctor Strange and appreciation of Neilalien as a Dr. Strange uber-fan. Dedication to a favorite with such fervor is what makes great reading. Well done, Neilalien. God bless the passion, yo.

In contrast, here's what I know in sum total about the good Doctor:

  1. He's magical and all occult-y.
  2. He frequently shows up these days as a deus ex machina to gather heroes, if he even shows up at all (Defenders notwithstanding; it's sucky, anyway).
  3. He has a bitchin' wardrobe and a manservant named Wong.
  4. He was in one of the most ass-kickin'-est graphic novels ever, the one with Dr. Doom. (Randy can vouch for me. He owns this.)
  5. JMS wrote a pretty bad series about him recently.
  6. I find Dr. Strange absolutely fascinating for some reason.

See? Not much going on there in terms of Strange knowledge for me. And yes, that's my own fault. I'm a latecomer. And Neilalien's reading list is great recommendation, but I want something contemporary. That's just me.

So, I was thinking (shaddup!) to myself, what would I do if I were Joe Quesada for a day, (other than publicly apologize for Avengers Disassembled) and had mastery of Marvel series?

The answer came to me like a repulsor ray out of the blue: Go back to Marvel's EC Comics roots and publish a balls-out, dark, scary horror monthly featuring....Dr. Strange!




I know, I know, I'm probably pissing off legions of Dr. Strange fans out there. So be it. This is my opinion.

I'm thinking that the premise is something along the lines of Dr. Strange being something of an occult investigator, traveling all over the world to investigate mysterious and unexplainable phenomenon, monsters, cults, etc. He, Wong, Clea, and perhaps another apprentice could be sort of a paranormal troubleshooting squad. I'm thinking X-Files meets H.P. Lovecraft.

And yes, the horror aspects should be totally Lovecraft-ian. That is some scary shit, dude. It is the unique type of horror that could logically (!) blend the cosmic, the magical, the occult, and the just plain sick and weird shit that ordinary people do.

This would probably need to be a MAX title, because otherwise you get Marvel Mainstream Horror, which typically is all about vampires (snore) or zombies (zzzzz) and the violence all takes place off-panel. People need to be scared by this stuff. Dr. Strange needs to show his badassedness against the most depraved, scary, terrifying threats to the Marvel U! I want to see the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak do some damage! Make the Eye of Agamotto terrifying! By the power of the Vishanti, let's tear some supernatural shit up!

Who wouldn't want to read this? Seriously! I've already picked three people I think could do a great job on this:

  • Steve Niles. Horror comic auteur. Granted, a lot of his stuff uses common horror tropes like the aforementioned vampires and zombies, but let's cut him loose! Plus. he really does kick ass at horror.
  • Peter David. I have no idea why, other that I think instinctively this is tailor made for him, and he could bring a great noir feel to the Strange Tales (yes, I've already picked a name for the series).
  • Stephen King. Given the recent wink-wink announcements at Marvel, I think it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to be doing something there next year. This is right up his alley, with the added bonus that he's an infintely much better short story writer than novelist anyway. (He is. Face it. Does anybody read his full-length novels other than out of habit any more?)

So, there's my idea. Thoughts? Opinions? Candidates? Or am I way the hell off my already admittedly unbalanced rocker anyway?

9 Comments:

Anonymous jake said...

I like zombies...

9:45 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I like zombies too, but there's too damn many of them these days in pop culture in general. Christ, they're in Ultimate FF now. All I'm saying is let's see some horror that doesn't involve brainless people-eating cadavers ONCE in while.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Howard Hallis said...

Lovecraft and Dr. Strange go together like chocolate and peanut butter. As Neilalien mentioned on his web page today, the Marvel Premiere run had a storyline right out of The Shadow Over Innsmouth (check out MP #6 and 7, recently reprinted in the Essential Dr. Strange Vol. 2.) I even commissioned Frank Brunner to do a piece where Doc, Clea, Sandman and Death are fighting Cthulhu (See it here!)

The Flight Of Bones mini series from the late 90's had a sort of Lovecraftian detective element, and to me this was one of the last times the good Doctor was done right. (Not counting a few scattered appearances since then.)

If he hasn't signed an exclusive contract with DC, Grant Morrison would also be a nice candidate to write a Lovecraftian Dr. Strange book, as would Neil Gaiman. Those two may be too busy with the heavy hitters to consider it, but it's a nice pipe dream.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Howard, thanks for stopping by!

You're right -- Grant Morrison could knock this out of the park. Sigh.

Kickass Brunner picture, too!

9:02 PM  
Anonymous juana said...

Yeah, what Howard said! The greatest thing about Stephen Strange is that he can be used in so many ways. Steve Englehart has written him in Lovecraftian and also alternate history/time travel type modes. i keep hoping someone like Morrison or Gaiman will do a Doc series, someone who won't just do another retread. The new Defenders was a very enjoyable bit of fluff for the first issue, but the second one was a waste of ink and paper. Not that it's a Dr. Strange book, anyway!

8:15 AM  
Anonymous juana said...

Yeah, what Howard said! The greatest thing about Stephen Strange is that he can be used in so many ways. Steve Englehart has written him in Lovecraftian and also alternate history/time travel type modes. i keep hoping someone like Morrison or Gaiman will do a Doc series, someone who won't just do another retread. The new Defenders was a very enjoyable bit of fluff for the first issue, but the second one was a waste of ink and paper. Not that it's a Dr. Strange book, anyway!

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The important thing would be for it to be a *horror* series, not an *occult* series. An occult series would, I think, risk being some lame thing like the old "Friday the 13th" TV series about the occult antique dealers (or whatever it was). That sort of tone would be all wrong. It leads to hack plots based on Ouija boards, when what's needed is ineffable horror.

Gaiman would be good. When I think of the climactic battle-of-the-gods from his American Gods novel, I could totally see Doctor Strange in the midst of it, wielding the Crimson Bands.

10:34 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Gaiman still has one project to deliver as part of his Marvel contract (the first was 1602). He says it's definitely not Thor (but we'll see when it's relaunched), and if Marvel republish Miracleman, that's not counted as the second project (since the two projects are supposed to pay for the return of MM), so it could conceivably be Doc Strange.

JMS is supposed to be doing a Strange miniseries too; I know he was involved in that origin reboot thing a while ago, but that didn't really seem to match up with the seeds JMS planted in Amazing Spider-Man, so I don't think that it was the Strange series he'd been planning for so long.

10:45 AM  
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