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Strange Tales 139
"Beware...! Dormammu Is Watching!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND December, 1965

Script By Sterling STAN LEE

Art By Stalwart STEVE DITKO

Lettering By Stoical ARTIE SIMEK

Review By Stubborn STEVE CHUNG

(Originally Reviewed On 04/12/02)

Dr. Strange has found Eternity, but returns to his own world emptyhanded, and upon his arrival, he discovers that his aged mentor, The Ancient One has been taken prisoner by Baron Mordo! Now, both he and Mordo meet face-to-face, with The Dread Dormammu observing the proceedings. The Master of The Mystic Arts demands to see The Ancient One, and Mordo scoffs at him, for it is he and Dormammu who'll give the orders, and Dr. Strange who will obey, for he has played his final hand... and lost! The Dread One also greets Dr. Strange, promising that this time there will be no escape, and that it is he who is the power, and the mortal master of the mystic arts who is to be the prey!

Dormammu demands to learn what powers has been bestowed unto Dr. Strange by Eternity, telling him that he can sense when a mortal lies to him! Dr. Strange tells him that obviously he can sense that Eternity gave him nothing, while Mordo believes that their enemy has the audacity to lie to them, and he must pay for that! Dormammu senses that he speaks the truth, and Mordo grins, for they have nothing to fear, for the mystical powers of Dr. Strange cannot hope to stand up to their combined might! (Holy Davey And Goliath, Batman!) Dormammu removes the spell of invisibility from The Ancient One and releases him from the induced coma, so that he may bear witness to his pupil's defeat, a moment which Mordo has waited for all this time! Approaching The Ancient One, Dr. Strange vows that he'll fight them while there is still breath in him, and his teacher is pleased to see him. He seeks to assure The Ancient One that he will prove himself worthy of what he has learned, and although tired, his mentor promises that they'll face the threat together. Dr. Strange points out that they face a mighty foe, and although he made contact with Eternity, he has not been given any additional power to defeat Dormammu, but The Ancient One points out that all is not lost, for there are things at hand that even the young man is unaware of, and he must fight on!

Figuring that they have spoken enow, Dormammu demands that they battle, with Mordo as his surrogate, armed with the power of The Dreaded One, himself! In whispers, The Ancient One tells his pupil that since he is ill, he can only give little aid, but the courage and skill will be his own, and that should prevail! He reminds Dr. Strange that Mordo was his student, too, before he learned of The Baron's treachery, and he is armed with the same knowledge and training as The Master of The Mystic Arts! The Ancient One tells him to use wisdom where they use power, the wisdom of justice, the righteous, and the fearless. Armed with such knowledge, Dr. Strange is ready to meet Mordo! In The Dark Dimension, Dormammu brings the girl who aided Strange on his last trip there to the screen, where she can watch the defeat and imminent death of the mortal mage!

The battle begins, with Dr. Strange sensing an aura of mystical power being added to his own, from The Ancient One, while Mordo boasts that with his rival's death, he will be master, and Dormammu tells his pawn not to spend his time gloating, but to strike! Dr. Strange moves forward, with his precious power, he strikes a defensive mode, eyeing Mordo's battle plan, and seek an opening! Mordo boasts that his opponent's strategy is clear, and the defense tactics being used by Dr. Strange can't help him, for sooner or later, he will fall! Powered by Dormammu, The Baron can afford to be reckless!

Sensing Dormammu's impatience, Dr. Strange struggles, for Mordo's power has been increased, and his defenses begin to grow weaker. Using precise timing, he manages to deflect Mordo's mystical bolts, which collide harmlessly in the air above him! Mordo is confident that as time passes, he will become stronger, while Dr. Strange will weaken! Knowing this to be so, The Master of The Mystic Arts dares not to weaken nor to falter, as he splits the oncoming spell, and tells Mordo that he is only using a tiny fraction of his full power! Mordo yells for more power from Dormammu, so that his opponent's words will be stilled, and Dr. Strange conjures up life-preserving energy shields, at a terrible cost to his power! Each strike is bringing him closer to defeat, with three energy shield being blasted, while the fourth barely holds, and the power of Dormammu is fierce, indeed!

Watching from the sidelines, The Ancient One regrets that the power he gives his pupil pales in comparison to that of The Dread One, and Dr. Strange is driven back, unable to stand his ground. Dormammu is pleased that Mordo has staggered their common foe, and that together, they will prove Dr. Strange's downfall! Turning to the girl, Dormammu tells her that this is what happens to those who disobey him, and that she is only alive so that they can witness his defeat... together! She sees that Dr. Strange is surely doomed, but she would help him again and again if given the chance! With only seconds left before his defenses are gone, Dr. Strange makes his move, and throughout their battle, he has been coming up with a plan... and it is time for him to employ it while Mordo is at his most confident!

Since his plan is so obvious, Dr. Strange is sure that the over-confident Mordo will overlook it, and the spell has come through without The Baron noticing it! Mordo is amazed to see that the astral form of Dr. Strange has left his body, but The Master of The Mystic Arts can control both of them at once! He figures that Eternity must have given him that power, and Dr. Strange does nothing to assuage him of that notion, indeed, it seems to the befuddled Baron that Strange has been toying with him up to now! Figuring that his foe must be twice as powerful than before, it remains to be seen how many Dr. Stranges he can conjure up! Dr. Strange smiles, as Mordo doesn't know which one to attack first, enabling him to regain his strength, while Mordo blasts at his "astral form." Since he is not affected by the spell, Dormammu can only gape, as he watches his pawn using the power given to him by blasting at thin air! As Mordo screams at Dormammu for more power, as one would scream at a waitress for more coffee, The Dread One tells him to finish off Dr. Strange, while the sweaty Baron wonders how he can take on two foes at once when the advantage is theirs?

Dormammu tells Baron Mordo to ignore the floating astral form and concentrate on Dr. Strange, while The Master of The Mystic Arts knows that he couldn't fool The Dread One, but he has gained precious time nonetheless. Mordo is still dumbfounded and wonders if Dormammu wants him to lose, while like an irate driving instructor, The Dread One takes control, and opens The Baron's eyes to the fact that the astral form of Dr. Strange was an illusion! The Ancient One knows that Mordo is now full of shame and will no doubt be a most vengeful foe, like unto a tennis player! In the brief pause, the teacher congratulates the student, and speaking loudly, Dr. Stranges tells The Ancient One that Mordo will no doubt be more deadly than ever, but whispers that he'll no doubt be more reckless, too! Indeed, Mordo is ready to leap into the fray once again...!

He hurls mystical bolts at his hapless foe, determined not to stop until Dr. Strange is dead at his feet! Knowing that Mordo is striking blindly, without so much as a plan or thought, The Master of The Mystic Arts parries the blows, confident that his opponent will create an opening for him to exploit! In his rage, Mordo has lowered his guard, and although his spells are not as powerful as The Baron's, they can still sting him! The Ancient One has weakened and can no longer provide energy to his pupil, while Mordo is striking in blind fury now (Holy Rutger Hauer, Batman!) and enabling Dr. Strange to use his carefully-planned attacks, scoring again and again!

Dr. Strange drops his defenses and launches an all-out attack, before Mordo can muster another spell, and even then, The Baron is begging for more power from Dormammu! (Holy PG&E, Batman!) Dr. Strange has broken through his defenses, and Mordo asks The Dread One why he isn't helping him, especially since he's fighting their battle! Dormammu sees red and grudgingly admits that Mordo has been out-matched and out-fought from the very beginning of the duel! Shoving the girl aside, The Dread One decides to take a personal turn in matters at hand, and the girl cowers, as she sees that with Dormammu, Dr. Strange may have lost any chance he may have had! From The Dark Dimension, The Flames of The Faltine burn brightly, catching all before it in its radiance, and as Mordo cowers before his master, and Dr. Strange begins to sense what is about to happen, and The Ancient One tells him it is so, the room they are in is caught in the blinding light, and nothing else is heard, but the cackling of Dormammu!

Nice title for the Silver Age Dr. Strange story. It makes The Dread One sound like an other-dimensional peeping-tom!

Baron Mordo is like the neighborhood bully who runs home to Daddy when someone arrives for a fair fight!

Given his bizarre visage, Dormammu was no doubt the inspiration for The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun." R.I.P. George.

The Ancient One is like a football coach and cheering section combined. He is privy to Dr. Strange's game plan and has years of experience at this sort of thing.

Clea makes for a captive cheerleader for Dormammu's side.

I love those Ditko depictions of Dr. Strange mystical battles, as one can imagine him and Mordo in a vicious tennis match in The Dark Dimension.

If bragging and whining were a sport, Mordo would have a gold medal in both.

Since Dr. Strange was using mystical shields in his battle against Mordo, I'm surprised that he didn't conjure up some copies of Strange Tales to ward him off. Classic cover by Ditko of Doc reading the lead Nick Fury of SHIELD story.

Dr. Strange's and Mordo's hand movements are like a young kid trying to imitate Spider-Man shooting his web. Lord knows I've done this, and wonder if anyone in The Silver Age did this to emulate a battle between Doc and The Baron?

A wise time to use subterfuge and Mordo probably thought that Doc was exposed to The Red Book of The Vishanti or something.

Given the hidden sports metaphors and motifs, I'm suddenly gripped by an image of The Mindless Ones playing soccer or hockey in the Dark Dimension.

And like an irate basketball coach, The Dread Dormammu is about to charge the court!

If this were by D.C., it would certainly qualify as a "Strange Sports Story."

This Review Is Dedicated To J.K. Carrier and Kevin Grady

Steve Chung
"Beware...! Dormammu Is Reviewing!"