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Strange Tales 132
"Face-To-Face With Baron Mordo!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND May, 1965

Though There Be Many Writers, None But STAN LEE Could Have Penned This Tale!

Though There Be Many Artists, None But STEVE DITKO Could Have Drawn This Tale!

Though There Be Many Letterers, None But ARTIE SIMEK Was Available When We Needed Him!

Though There Be Many Reviewers, None But STEVE CHUNG Was Awake When We Heeded Him!

(Originally Reviewed On 02/27/02)

With the power of The Dread Dormammu, Baron Mordo has finally caught up with Doctor Strange, and now, The Master of The Mystic Arts is caught in the tendrils of Mordo's borrowed power!

It's a rainy evening, as a passenger pays his fare to the cab driver near Greenwich Village, the driver grateful for the dollar tip, but his fare seems to have other things on his mind. Stephen Strange grips his raincoat tightly, aware that Baron Mordo and his minions are searching the world for him. Aware that there most certainly is a trap at his home, it is a chance he must take! Within his sanctum sanctorum are many mystic devices which will enable Doctor Strange in discerning the source of Baron Mordo's new-found strength! Not daring to enter directly, Stephen Strange seeks cover within a shadowy doorway, and soon, his astral form leaves his body, entering the chamber, where a light from another room indicates the presence of another! Mordo has one of his followers stationed within Strange's sanctum sanctorum, and The Master of The Mystic Arts knows that Mordo must be supremely confident of his abilities in invading his home!

The follower's body stiffens in alarm, as he senses a presence, then unleashes the crimson bands of cyttorak to snare the fleeing life force! Moving with the speed of the seraphim, the astral form of Doctor Strange manages to elude the ever-expanding bands of cyttorak, which encircle the entire building. No longer sensing the presence, the follower believes himself to be mistaken, then dissolves the crimson bands...

Returning to his physical form, Stephen Strange concentrates on a plan to regain control of his lair, which would avoid the use of mystic power or enable Mordo's follower to signal his master! Around the world, the wraith-like minions of Mordo search for The Master of The Mystic Arts, passing by a cave, where The Ancient One is being tended to and protected by a mystic spell of invisibility. The manservant listens as The Ancient One cries out that his pupil needs the assistance of Eternity... Eternity! (Holy Calvin Klein, Batman!) Outside of a costume shop, Stephen Strange finds what he needs... As the evening begins to wane, a gaudily-garbed visitor knocks on the door to the sanctum sanctorum, demanding that Dr. Strange meet him in a battle of magic powers! Within a chamber, the follower sees with his mystic eye how the costumed oaf is unaware of what truly lurks within these walls. Entering, the visitor angrily confronts the follower, who tells him that Dr. Strange is not at home...

Unimpressed, the visitor tells the follower that he'll go to the newspapers and tell them what a cowardly fraud Dr. Strange is, which the follower is determined not to allow,.and as he bids him to stop, the unruly visitor turns, and punches him out! Removing his mask, the disguised Dr. Strange knew that Mordo's follower wouldn't be expecting a physical attack. Stephen Strange races to the all-seeing eye of Agamotto in order to learn the source of Mordo's new power. With such knowledge, Dr. Strange is confident that he can come up with a spell to undo it, but as he gestured for the eye to open, a trap is released, and Stephen Strange learns that the eye was covered with one of Baron Mordo's spells! Inside the mystic sanctum of Mordo, The Baron tells Dormammu that his plan has succeeded, with Strange's location now known to them, they can finally strike, but The Dread One tells him that Dr. Strange must be destroyed, for he will not tolerate failure!

Mordo is confident that with The Dread One's power added to his own, Strange's defeat is assured! Dormammu bathes Mordo in the mystical glow of his power, then the Baron transforms himself into sheer energy... and in the Dark Dimension, Dormammu makes his own plans, for only the oath he swore to Dr. Strange prevents him from attacking the earthly dimension, but with Dr. Strange destroyed, he'll be able to cause humanity's downfall! Even Baron Mordo is unaware of The Dread One's true intentions, while Clea consults with her father, who is a disciple of Dormammu, about their ruler's latest plan, and he tells her that they'll find out when he tells them! Clea senses that Dr. Strange is in danger!

Within the sanctum sanctorum, Dr. Strange has shed his disguise and stands ready as The Master of The Mystic Arts, who even now senses the sinister aura of Baron Mordo! The Baron materializes, with Dr. Strange determined not to flee, but stand and fight! Mordo's hands glow green as he conjures, with Dr. Strange's mystic defenses begin to splinter, even his amulet is unable to stop Mordo, who has been protected against its light! Dr. Strange is battered by the number of spells hurled by Baron Mordo...

Mordo gloats about how Strange was unaware about how more powerful he truly is, while Dr. Strange senses the lie in his statement, and knows that the baron has a hidden ally. Mordo is stunned that Dr. Strange could have deduced his secret, and in this distraction, he strikes with all the force his amulet can muster! Mordo easily shrugs off the attack, and Strange is convinced that he is possessed of another's power... Mordo's emerald spells knock Dr. Strange back, as even the light of his amulet is unable to protect him from the onslaught!

Mordo is surprised that Dr. Strange is still conscious, impressed by his will, but knows that the mage cannot last. Dr. Strange knows that he must not fall, nor abandon mankind, in his determination to prevent Mordo from using his power on humanity! Mordo's spells begin to lose their potency, and now Dr. Strange strikes, while he still has strength, sensing Mordo's confusion, and within The Dark Dimension, The Dread One orders Mordo to stand fast, for it is he who wills the Baron's mind to go blank -- On Earth, Mordo's body stiffens, his arms raised, as a demon's gaze permeates from his eyes, and speaks with a voice that is not his own...

Dr. Strange has sensed the change which has come over Mordo, and the voice... one which he has heard before... but where?? Then, it hits him... for he should have guessed... he should have known...! There is no more time for guessing and for planning -- as the darkness greets him, there is time for naught else! Naught but the silence of a swirling stygian void!

An awe-inspiring splash page by Steve Ditko, lively lettering by Artie Simek, and heroic hyperbole by Stan The Man!

Steve Ditko captures Stephen Strange and his Greenwich Village Sanctum Sanctorum at its best... the rain being the least of his problems.

The Crimson Bands of Cytorrak would play in the origin of The Juggernaut.

Very clever of Dr. Strange to use a disguise to gain entry, and Mordo's follower must not be good at seeing past appearances.

Mordo seeks to prove himself in being Dr. Strange's match and seeks Dormammu's power, while The Dread One sees The Baron as nothing more than a pawn in his quest of destroying humanity.

The mysterious girl in the dark dimension would play a large role in Dr. Strange's life. Her mother would turn out to be Umar and her father is none other than Dormammu himself!

A very chilling moment as Dormammu takes control of Baron Mordo in order to deliver the coup de grace to his mortal foe!