Strange Tales #110: "Dr. Strange, Master Of Black Magic!"

Strange Tales #110

"Dr. Strange, Master Of Black Magic!"
July, 1963

Story: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko
Lettering: Terry Szenics

They call him Dr. Strange! Never have you seen him before! It is a pleasure and privilege to present the first story based upon a new kind of Marvel super-hero -- "Dr. Strange, Master Of Black Magic!" Somewhere in New York City, between dusk and dawn, a tortured man tosses and turns in his bed, waiting for a peace that will not come... He cannot sleep! He dare not sleep! It is the same dream each night, but what could it possibly mean?? Unable to cope with it alone, the man knows he needs help! He has heard of Dr. Strange, who dabbles in black magic, and who may be able to help him!

The following day, on a silent street in Greenwich Village, the man has come to see Dr. Strange -- Before the visitor stands a tall, brooding man, wearing an amulet! The eyes of Dr. Strange are upon him! The visitor tells the Master of Black Magic about his dream -- a hooded figure, wrapped in chains appears -- and stares at him! This evening, Dr. Strange will visit him, and he will find an answer to this dream! When asked how he will find the answer, the Master of Black Magic simply says, "I will enter your dream!!!" Now alone in his room, Dr. Strange sits in silence before an incense burner, and his physical body goes into a trance... It is time for him to visit the Master, from whom he receives his power... His astral form leaves his body and drifts... passing through the building itself.. into the sky... across the ocean... across the continents... across all of space and time in its flight...

The astral form of Dr. Strange reaches a hidden temple in Asia... The Master is pleased to see him and reminds the Master of Black Magic that his own days are numbered, and it is Dr. Strange who must one day take his place in the battle against evil! The Master of Black Magic heeds his master's words about his amulet being his protection! That evening, Dr. Strange visits the man who sought his aid! As the man sleeps, the Master of Black Magic enters a trance, and his astral form drifts into the unfurling dream itself! Finding it a lonely and forboding place, Dr. Strange soon spots the man's tormentor, and learns the reason why he is being tormented!

The chained figure is the symbol of the man's evil -- and if there is any doubt, just ask Mr. Crang! Suddenly, the menacing figure of Nightmare appears, and challenges the Master of Black Magic for daring to enter the Dimension of Dreams! Meanwhile, the sleeper has awakened and pulls a gun from a drawer! Nightmare mocks Dr. Strange -- whose physical body is unprotected -- and about to come to harm! There is one who can save him! The Master of Black Magic calls upon the Master!! Dr. Strange's call is heard and the Master concentrates upon the enchanted amulet!

Halfway around the world, the amulet of Dr. Strange begins to glow ever brightly... until it slowly opens and reveals a metallic eye within... an eye which no mortal has ever beheld! And from that metallic eye, a single ray shoots out, freezing the would-be shooter in his tracks! In that moment, the Master of Black Magic passes his foe in the Dream Dimension... and returns to his own dimension! As the amulet loses its radiance, the astral form of Dr. Strange returns to his physical body! The man is relieved of his weapon and his hypnotic spell! When asked, he speaks only the following truth! He had been a fool to come to Dr. Strange -- he hadn't expected his dreams to reveal his past crimes against several businessmen! Mr. Crang had been the last of them he robbed -- but there was no way Crang could prove it! Now -- he must confess to the authorities! This will be the only way he will ever be able to sleep again! Dr. Strange beckons to the reader to return next month for another excursion to the world of black magic!

This story was reprinted in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #3 (June, 1966).

I first read this story when it was reprinted in Origins Of Marvel Comics.

As drawn by Steve Ditko, Dr. Strange had a very distinctive appearance.

The raindrops on the window and the man's trembling hands as he attempts to light his cigarette provide the only source of illumination in the gathering gloom.

Dr. Strange's Master would later be referred to as the Ancient One.

His metaphysical spirit would later be referred to as his astral form.

The Sub-Mariner knows Warlord Krang.

The then un-named amulet of Agamotto and the All-Seeing Eye made their first appearance in this story.

Steve Chung