Strange Tales #154: "Clea Must Die!"

Strange Tales #154
"Clea Must Die!"
March, 1967

Letterer: SAM ROSEN

The Master of the Mystic Arts has just entered the otherworldly domain of
the Unspeakable Umar, in an attempt to save Clea from her clutches.
Instead of finding the girl from another dimension, Doctor Strange has
come face-to-face with a Mindless One. 

Having just fought a mystic battle, the Doctor knows that he must stall
for time to regain his powers.  He knows that the Mindless One will not
stop the attack until it has won.  Although he is low on power, the
Master of the Mystic Arts separates his astral form from his body, then
reenters his physical form with the added strength from his other form.
His mortal shell will attract the attention of the Mindless One, while
his astral form will now be free to replenish itself.  His physical body
is safe from harm, as the Mindless One's attacks fail to land on the
floating form.  Umar had made the mistake of leaving the scene before
making certain of her foe's doom.

The astral form of Doctor Strange regains its full strength, while the
Mindless One senses that its attacks are all for naught, goes off in
search of another quarry.  Now reunited with his physical form, the
Master of the Mystic Arts is now ready to continue his quest to free
Clea.  The Doctor recalls his battle against the vanished Dormammu in the
Dark Dimension, but now it is Umar who holds sway.  As long as the
Unspeakable One holds the girl prisoner, he must go on.

Knowing that he is a stranger in a strange land, Doctor Strange sends
forth the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto to seek out the inherent dangers
ahead of him.  The eye finds Umar within her castle, eager to conquer
countless other worlds. All that exists without must succumb to Umar.
Those who serve the Unspeakable One, but who fail, are sent into the
Dungeon of the Doomed.  There is one who dares to oppose Umar and who is
not struck with fear by the task ahead.

The All-Seeing Eye guides the Master of the Mystic Arts past a pit of
liquid fire, where a spell enables his cloak to protect him from its
flames, and vapors.  Within the pit itself, Doctor Strange feels the
suction pulling at him, and finds himself as a leaf in the wind.
Although the cloak of levitation was unable to resist the pull, the spell
of the Seraphim surrounds him within a ring of anti-force.  Those who
were imprisoned within the pit do not know what to make of the latest
visitor to their realm.  There is one in the shadows who stands
motionless over all.

After conjuring up an image of Clea and asking for her whereabouts,
Doctor Strange is directed by the others towards the lone figure.  As the
robed figure turns towards him, the Master of the Mystic Arts can sense a
mystical aura of knowledge around him.  He is Veritas, the living
incarnation of truth itself.  The robed figure is not a prisoner, and
came pass through at will.  Veritas enshrouds the Doctor with his cloak,
while the others watch, and wonder what the silent one is doing.  When
the cloak opens once more, Doctor Strange has learned what he has sought.
Only Veritas may guide him to where Clea is being held prisoner.

The cloaked figure points back towards Umar's cavernous castle, where a
winged sentry demon has just spotted the Master of the Mystic Arts.
Inside the castle, the Unspeakable Umar witnesses her sentry's battle
with her foe, and orders more of her minions to the attack.  As the
demonic servants of Dormammu's sister soar towards their prey, Doctor
Strange prepares to unleash another spell.

Calling upon the Seven Rings of Raggadorr and summoning the Mystic Mists
of Munnopor, the demons now find their wings as heavy as lead.  The
creatures fall to the ground below, as Umar waits for the Doctor to
approach her castle.  The structure begins to shake like a thing alive,
and the very walls begin to close in on the visiting mage. 

ZTAK!  FZAP!  SPIZ!  The flying rock are unable to pierce the magician's
defenses.  After entering the corridor leading to Umar, Doctor Strange
calls out a challenge to the sister of the Dread Dormammu.  Although he
is the Master of the Mystic Arts on Earth, she is the mistress of power
on worlds without number.  SHOOOOM!  With a wave of her hand, a column of
phantasmagorical energy strikes the mortal mage down.  As Umar taunts the
Doctor in his struggles, there is another visitor who enters into the
chamber.  As the Unspeakable Umar gloats at her foe's predicament, she
does not heed the approach of the silent visitor.

Only when she senses the shadow upon her does Umar turn, and sees Veritas
standing before her.  The silent one opens his robe and reveals the one
thing that Dormammu's sister does fear.  She sees herself as she truly
is, and the sight is enough to drive her mad.  The pillar dissipates,
enabling Doctor Strange to free himself, and reach for the mystic screen.
As the image of Clea begins to form on the screen, the Unspeakable Umar
tells the Doctor that she will have her final victory, and unleashes a
deadly spell directed at the imprisoned girl.  ZAMMMMMM

I first read the second part of this story ("The Fearful Finish!") in the
pages of Origins of Marvel Comics, where I fell in love with the art of
Marie Severin.

I'm surprised to see that Doctor Strange was opposed by only one Mindless
One.  They usually attack in packs, but maybe Umar vanished them to
another part of the Dark Dimension for her own safety.

I'm guessing that Doc's astral form cast a spell making his physical body
intangible and his ectoplasmic form become solid.  This is why the
Mindless One wasn't able to lay a finger on the Doctor's flesh and blood

Umar's head is surrounded by the Flames of the Faltine, which indicate
the rite of ruling the Dark Dimension.  With Dormammu gone after his
battle with Eternity, his sister was left in charge of the place.

Veritas is similar to the later character of Sayge, who appeared in the
pages of Nova the Human Rocket in the late 70's.  No one could gaze
directly at Sayge's features without the risk of going mad.

The Master of the Mystic Arts is able to weather attacks from Umar's
winged sentries and Sam Rosen's sound effects.  No mean feat, indeed.

The Unspeakable One learns that she is far from the fairest one of all
from Veritas.

Poor Clea is mentioned in the story title, is seen in the story about
four times on three pages, but she doesn't have a single word of

Steve Chung
"Clea Must Review!"