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Classic Comic Cover Corner – Strange Tales #130

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Strange Tales #130 – March, 1965

Cover Art by Jack Kirby

Strange Tales #130 – March, 1965
Strange Tales #130 – March, 1965

Last week the Internet lit up when it was reported by multiple media outlets that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Marvel’s “Master of the Mystic Arts,” Doctor Strange, in their upcoming movie. Then something strange indeed happened when the very next day Marvel rolled out their extensive film roster for the next five years and they failed to confirm (or deny) that Cumberbatch would be playing the Doctor. Too bad we didn’t have the “Eye of Agamotto” on hand to exude the truth out of Marvel Studios’ President, Kevin Feige.

So now it’s all up in the air once again, but speculation regarding the casting of the good Doctor, Stephen Strange, has been processing through the electronic rumor mill for some time, with everyone from Cumberbatch to Keanu Reeves, Joaquin Phoenix, Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto, and Jake Gyllenhaal being envisioned wearing the famous “Cloak of Levitation.”

My personal preference, for what it is worth, would be to have Joaquin Phoenix in the part. I think he has the acting chops and just the right balance of bravado, mystique and lunacy to pull off a truly unique and believable portrayal of Strange. That said — I can see any of the actors mentioned above doing a good job in the role.

Strange Tales #118 - March, 1964
Strange Tales #118
– March, 1964

If you are reading Classic Comic Cover Corner, then you probably already have a good idea what Doctor Strange is all about, but in case you are asking yourself, “Doctor who?” here is a brief overview of Marvel’s “Sorcerer Supreme.”

Doctor Strange was created in 1963 by the legendary writer/artist team that also gave the world Spider-Man, Stan Lee and the eccentric illustrator, Steve Ditko. Strange made his first appearance in the pages of Strange Tales #110, but his mysterious origin was not unveiled until Strange Tales #115. With their heavy psychological tropes and hallucinatory imagery, the mystical Doctor Strange stories proved to be a big hit with college students in the mid-sixties.

Stephen Strange was a renowned surgeon who was arrogant and egotistical, until an accident leaves his hands so damaged that he can no longer continue his medical practice. He travels the globe searching for a cure that will restore his hands and in the process loses all of his worldly possessions.

A desperate Strange ends up in the remote mountains of the Himalayas, where the “Ancient One” takes him in and, after finding the good within the man, decides to teach him the ways of the mystic arts. (I always felt that Christopher Nolan borrowed heavily from Doctor Strange’s origin when he put Bruce Wayne on a similar journey in “Batman Begins”, albeit without the magic parts.)

Doctor Strange shared the Strange Tales comic with the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch for many issues, and, believe it or not, the Sorcerer Supreme would not even get a small cover mention until eight issues into his run within the book (see Strange Tales #117), and he would not get his first (very minor) cover appearance until issue #118. In fact, Strange’s first full-fledged “featured” cover appearance would not be until Strange Tales #130, when the Human Torch finally took the back seat for an issue (in a very strange tale indeed, where Johnny Storm and the Thing attend a Beatles concert.)

Who do you think should play Doctor Strange in the Marvel live-action movie? Let us know in our comments section below!

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About the author

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Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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  • Must admit I would love to see Cumberbatch take a shot at this. Having seen The Imitation Game and having just gone to see the National Theater’s cinema release of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, both performances where he was absolutely amazing, I think he would be a good choice. But I think his schedule is going to be the issue here, depending when they want to start filming. He is currently filming the three parts of Shakespear’s Hollow Crown – The Wars of the Roses (Richard II). I think he also has a film, set to start filming Jan 2015. He is on the stage for 12 weeks in Hamlet from August through October next year and filming a Sherlock special. And in 2016 filming Sherlock Season 4. So it could explain why the announcement then the non confirmation, possibly the schedules clashed.

    Plus they could have been testing the waters to see the reaction, good or bad. Where he is very well known in Europe and Asia he is not that big in the US outside the Sherlock or Trek fandom, they may want to go with a bigger name for the home market.

    I’m still crossing my fingers though.

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