Strange Tales #119: "Beyond The Purple Veil!"

Strange Tales #119
"Beyond The Purple Veil!"
April, 1964

Story Conjured Up By:
Stan Lee

Illustrated By The Strange Sorcery Of:
Steve Ditko

Lettered At Midnight By:
Artie Simek

Reviewed At Midday By:
Steve Chung

While many sleep in the city of New York, Doctor Strange uses his will
power to fight off sleep until his task is completed.  A mysterious gem
has his undivided attention.  Although it resembles an earthly gem, this
is far more different than it appears.  In the other room, two would-be
burglars enter through a window, not knowing that it is the home of the
Master of The Mystic Arts.  Although they exercise stealth, the two men
are caught in the grip of a paralyzing spell.  Lacking the time to
properly deal with the intruders, Doctor Strange causes them to float
through the air.

Even after passing through a brick wall, the two hoods figure that this
was all an illusion.  Since the police haven't been summoned, they figure
that he, too, must be a wanted man.  The following evening finds Wong
given a night off by his master.  The Doctor heads off to his private
chamber for some meditation, unaware that the two burglars have decided
to rob his home.  They soon find the mysterious gem and figure that it
must be priceless. Even as the two crooks edge closer, they suddenly feel
uneasy, but one of them grabs ahold of the jewel nonetheless.

In the next room, Doctor Strange sends his astral form to investigate
what he has just sensed.  The gem is gone from his sanctum sanctorum, but
his amulet is able to find the culprits.  The two hoods have no idea what
they're dealing with, and as the Master of the Mystic Arts returns to his
physical form, the two men have vanished into thin air.  Knowing that the
gem is a gateway into the dreaded purple dimension, Doctor Strange honors
his vow to aid any and all humans in need. 

When the purple mists have dissipated, the Doctor now finds himself on an
unearthly landscape in another dimension.  Among the slaves being herded
along are the two burglars.  The procession is halted when the newcomer
is spotted by the guards.  Even in another dimension, the mystic powers
of Doctor Strange are formidable.  Two of the guards are swept back when
the mystic raises his arms, and recites an incantation.  The guards lead
him to Aggamon, the all-powerful.  The ruler knows why Doctor Strange has
come, but none who have arrived in his realm have ever left it.  When the
Master of Black Magic challenges Aggamon, the all-powerful one decides to
demonstrate his own might.  Aggamon summons a mental image of how he
rules his world with an iron fist.  In the thousand years he has ruled
the Purple Veil, none of the slave miners have ever escaped from their

Sensing the inherent power in the newcomer, Aggamon makes him an offer.
If Doctor Strange agrees to take the place of the two captives, they will
be free to return to their own dimension.  Since he had promised the
Ancient One to help all humans, the Master of the Mystic Arts must keep
his vow.  A purple mist emanates from the gem, leaving two confused men
in its wake.  A guard places shackles onto the wrists of Doctor Strange,
who smiles, and reminds the all-powerful one that he didn't agree to
remain a captive.  The amulet begins to glow with blinding light, and
frees its master from the chains that bind him.

Since the guards lack the mystic skills of their master, they are
helpless when the Doctor brushes them aside with a single gesture.
Confident that his power is greater than the Earthman, Aggamon fires his
jeweled demolisher at his opponent.  The deadly beam is kept at bay by
the mystical beam from the amulet of Doctor Strange.  Minutes pass, as
each gets the measure of the other, and both men begin to tire.  Hours
later, both men now feel their very life forces beginning to ebb.  Only
if one surrenders will both continue to live.  Aggamon tells the Doctor
to surrender, but is surprised to learn that his foe does not fear death.

Sensing the resolve of his opponent, the tyrant surrenders in fear of his
own demise.  Doctor Strange is now free to leave, and Aggamon hopes to
never see him again.  A final spell assures that the all-powerful one
will only regain his strength when the captives have been freed.  Back on
Earth, the Master of Black Magic recalls how powerful was his foe, but
Aggamon's own fears had betrayed him.  On the street, a policeman speaks
with Doctor Strange, and tells him about the two hoods who turned
themselves in.  After listening to their version of being saved from a
purple veil, the Doctor advises the officer to disregard the outlandish
story.  Even so, the policeman is impressed that they've decided to
change their ways.  The Master of the Mystic Arts smiles, knowing that
his battle with Aggamon had been worthwhile.  The gem will remain in his
possession, should he ever need to travel to the Purple Veil once more.

In the Silver Age, Doctor Strange must pass through a different kind of
Purple Haze. 

Like another Lee/Ditko creation, the Master of Black Magic has had his
fill of petty burglars.

I guess at this point in his career, Doctor Strange hadn't erected
mystical defenses to protect his sanctum sanctorum from intruders.

At this point in time, the Master of Black Magic invokes the name of the
Dread Dormammu twice during this adventure.

I wonder if Smilin' Stan named the all-powerful one after Agamemnon?

Aggamon would seem to be a minor villain, with his helpless captives
becoming miners themselves.

The Demolisher is another name for the cyborg known as Deathlok.

In the friendly neighborhood of Greenwich Village in the Silver Age, I
guess Doctor Strange wouldn't stand out that much, in contrast to the
other denizens from that area.

Steve Chung
"Beyond The Purple Review!"