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Doctor Strange: 10 Best Comic Issues of the 1960s | ScreenRant

Doctor Strange, Master of Black Magic first appeared in Strange Tales #110, 1963. Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, Doctor Strange is a strip about magic that actually looks dark, mysterious, and magical. Mostly due to Ditko's skill and design sense, Strange's world is full of dark shadows, swirling mists, and evil beings bent on destruction.

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Doctor Strange has endured due to the inherent weirdness and sense of unlimited power the character was imbued with from the very start. In that first tale, "Master of Black Magic", readers see the potential of Strange, and the selflessness of his vow to never refuse help to any person who needs that help. And many have over the nearly 60 years of Stephen Strange's existence.

10 Strange Tales #110, 1963 “Master Of Black Magic”

A nameless man tosses and turns at night, jolted from sleep by a terrible figure in his dreams. For relief, he comes to Doctor Strange. Strange tells the stranger he will stop his nightmares by entering his dreams. Once there, he finds the nightmare is the evil his client has done. In the real world, the stranger attempts to kill Strange to hide his secrets.

The strange saga of Doctor Stange begins here! Created by and plotted by Steve Ditko with a script by Stan Lee, Doctor Strange seemed to be created to show off Ditko's drawing and design skills. The strip is off to a good start, showing the potential that it will be meeting in just a few issues.

9 Strange Tales #121, 1964: "Witchcraft In The Wax Museum"

Lured away from his physical form, Doctor Strange returns to find his body gone. Baron Mordo has stolen it and vows to keep it from Strange until his astral form wastes away. Strange is able to trick Mordo and regain his form with seconds to spare.

Baron Mordo is one of the few returning villains in the strip at this point. His object is to be the only Master of Black Magic, but to make that happen, he has to get rid of The Ancient One and Doctor Strange. The battle between the two in the museum is yet another terrific display of Ditko's surrealistic design aesthetic.

8 Strange Tales #120, 1964: "The House Of Shadows"

Doctor Strange is on hand to witness a TV stunt; a reporter entering a 'haunted house' on live TV. When the reporter screams and goes silent, Strange enters. What he finds is the house is actually a being from the shadow realm, here to capture and study humans. Strange frees the reporter and banishes the 'house' back to the shadows.

It's Doctor Strange vs. a haunted house. More great art from Ditko, who portrays the swirling mists as if they were an actual character in the story. Stan Lee crams a lot of dialogue in the panels, crowding the art here and there, and as these are all short stories, the early tales can be a bit rushed. When the strip expands its page count, these problems are mainly solved.

7 Strange Tales #118, 1964: "The Possessed"

Doctor Strange frees an entire town possed by inter-dimensional beings who have come to earth to conquer it, and are using the small Barvarian village as a test.

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More weird visuals ensue as the Doctor battles the inter-dimensional beings bent on world domination. The strip was still developing and finding its way at this point. This time, instead of an occult foe, there is a much more traditional alien menace to be dealt with and vanquished.

6 Strange Tales #116, 1964: "Return To The Nightmare World"

People are falling asleep and not waking up, trapped by Nightmare in the Nightmare Realm. Doctor Strange is called upon to enter the Nightmare Realm and free them, but to do so he must battle the master of the Realm, Nightmare.

Doctor Strange takes on the foe he encountered in his very first story, Nightmare, Master of the Nightmare Realm. This is another chance for Steve Ditko to use his trippy Daliesque, surreal art and design to portray a truly nightmarish world. Ditko's art gave Doctor Strange a unique visual style that set it apart from the many other 'magician' strips that preceded it. Doctor Strange was like nothing else out there. And he has a sanctum in Greenwich Village.

5 Strange Tales #115, 1963 “The Origin of Doctor Strange”

Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant, egotistical, and heartless surgeon is injured in a car accident. He cannot perform surgery ever again. He seeks help from the Ancient One, a master of the dark arts. He finds another student who is trying to kill the Master, and Strange pledges his life to stop evil.

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Four issues later, readers get the origin of Doctor Strange. It's the standard Lost Horizon story of 'White guy goes to India learns mystic arts', but neatly fits into the previous story while setting things up for the ones that will follow. Fans see a man redeemed and challenged to think of things beyond himself and learn to grow. All while learning dark magic.

4 Strange Tales #126-127 “The Domain of the Dread Dormammu!”

The Dread Dormammu calls to the Ancient One, threatening to conquer the earth and destroy it unless the Ancient One comes and does battle with him. The Ancient one is too ill to do so, so Doctor Strange goes in his place. Strange makes his way into Dormammu's dimension, fighting his way past dark beings to reach the dreaded one. They battle and Strange is losing, but he helps Dormammu fend off an invasion. In his debt, Dormammu vows to leave earth alone.

Finally, the Dread Dormammu is seen after being referred to so many times. Ditko pulls out every design trick he knows to render the world of the Dread Dormammu; doors to nowhere, floating, twisting ribbon pathways, bizarre creatures, and Dormammu himself. Dormammu has a head surrounded by mist through which only a shadowy silhouette can be seen. The world is pure Ditko, abstract and surreal.

3 Strange Tales #111, 1963 “Face to Face with the Magic of Baron Mordo!”

Mordo's astral self puts a spell on the Master's servant, forcing him to poison the Ancient One. Doctor Strange, fearing the worst, sends his astral self to the master, battles Baron Mordo, and saves the Ancient One with the Eye of Agamotto.

The reader sees that Baron Mordo is at it again, trying to kill the most powerful master of black magic so he alone can claim the title. He is tricked into fleeing, breaking the spell he had over the master, proving Mordo may be powerful, but he is not as smart as Stephen Strange.

2 Strange Tales #177, 1969: "The Cult and the Curse"

The wizard Asmodeus takes on the form of Dr. Strange in order to fool The Ancient One. Strange disguises himself with a new costume with a full head mask. Asmodeus has learned the Spell of Fire and Ice and recites it as he dies, releasing Surtur the fire demon and the frost giant Ymir.

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In this issue, Doctor Strange gets a funky new costume, all-blue covering his whole head and face. He would keep it for a while until the fan mail started coming in against it. It was very striking, but taking a character that had always been maskless and then giving him such a radical change just didn't work for many fans.

1 Strange Tales #130-146 “The Eternity Saga”

Baron Mordo and the dreaded Dormammu determine to rid themselves of The Ancient One and Doctor Strange forever. Dormammu channels his power through Mordo, who hunts Strange and the Master down. Strange goes on the run in an international and inter-dimensional manhunt, with Strange a step ahead of Mordo's henchmen.

The comic is 17 chapters, with Ditko doing a comic book version of Picasso and Salvador Dali when Strange enters different dimensions: abstract, surreal, and bizarre. It's some of his best work in the series. This would have taken over a year to play out, and was a pretty bold move for a comic at this time before long storylines were industry standard.

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