Neilalien : A Doctor Strange Fansite : A Comic Book Weblog  

02009 Neilalien Awards

Best Dr. Strange Appearance: Strange Tales #1, "Dr. Strange vs. Nightmare" by Dash Shaw
It was awesome to finally see this in print, and it was as hilarious and twisted as expected. The only negative was that it was only four pages long.

Best Dr. Strange Appearance, Runner-Up: in a Megan Fox photo shoot

Worst Dr. Strange Appearance: the entire "New Sorcerer Supreme" storyline in New Avengers [Neilalien rants]

Other Notable Dr. Strange Appearances: new Strange miniseries written by Mark Waid; Thor #602 [Neilalien item]

Best Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc.: Top 10: Season Two #4's Strange-Gun that shoots Gamma-Hoggoth blasts
Neilalien has a weak spot for Top 10, and the times Doctor Strange and references to him have appeared.

Best Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc., Runner-Up: Ditko-esque dimensionscape, complete with a path through a fanged mouth, in cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold, "The Eyes of Despero" episode written by J.M. DeMatteis.

Worst Appearance of a Dr.-Strange-Affiliated Character, Accoutrement, Parody, etc.: the Eye of Agamotto around Brother Voodoo's neck

Biggest Disappointment to Dr. Strange Fans: the entire "New Sorcerer Supreme" storyline in New Avengers

Greatest Hope for Dr. Strange Fans: Brendan McCarthy's Fever miniseries; the undoing of the entire "New Sorcerer Supreme" storyline in New Avengers

The Comic Book of 02009: Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli

Some More Comic Books That Brought Neilalien Much Joy in 02009:

Incognito by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Captain Britain and MI:13 by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk
Strange Tales by various
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, edited by Blake Bell

Neilalien might populate this list with a couple more items over the next week as he re-reads more of the year's comics and Doc appearances.

And just to prove that no matter how niche you go, there's always someone better: Sanctum Sanctorum Comix' Doctor Strange Awards for the year. There's a lot of agreement this year- great minds think alike- except that he has the benefit of speaking positively about Doctor Voodoo.

Posted 31 January 02010 - Permalink

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Preview of Spider-Man: Fever by Brendan McCarthy [Comics Alliance]

Heroes For Haiti: Comics creators have been putting art up for auction [more info]

J.M. DeMatteis shares re: how his spiritual path inspired, mingled with, and even mirrored, his Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa [Creation Point] [thanks Pmpknface!]

Marvel kidney-punches the competition: Retailers can trade in 50 ripped covers off of DC "Blackest Night" tie-ins they can't sell for a rare Deadpool "Siege" #3 variant [Comic Book Resources] [Robot 6]

Lovenote to B.P.R.D., "the best ongoing superhero comic of the [0]2000s" [This Ship Is Totally Sinking]
Update: Ben Schwartz interview, re: BPRD [Comics Reporter]

Kid Goth: Neil Gaiman's Fantasies [The New Yorker] [via Boing Boing]

26 G.I. Joe Codenames that Are Almost Certainly Sexual Euphemisms [Topless Robot]

Posted 24 January 02010 - Permalink

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Marvel April 02010 solicitations include Brendan McCarthy's Spider-Man: Fever #1 [Comic Book Resources]

Pencils & Cover by BRENDAN MCCARTHY
One of comics' most innovative and original voices, Brendan McCarthy, brings SPIDER-MAN: FEVER -- a truly unique and surreal story evoking the classic Silver-Age psychedelia of Steve Ditko's Dr Strange. In FEVER, Spider-Man is abducted by a depraved tribe of spider-demons to a bizarre dimension, where he is to be eaten alive. Dr. Strange goes on a perilous occult quest to rescue his friend -- and tangles with some very peculiar characters along the way...
32 PGS./Parental Advisory ...$3.99

Quick overview of some lesser-known Ditko work [Scott's Classic Comics Corner]

Richie Rich's ever-growing capitalist penis [Blog Flume] [via Comics Reporter]

How Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson changed the world with their Dungeons & Dragons concept of "experience points" [Grognardia]

Posted 19 January 02010 - Permalink

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Out today for Doc fans: Strange #3, Invincible Iron Man #22 [Diamond Comics Shipping This Week]
"House ad" for Invincible Iron Man #23 []

Stunning appreciation for artist J.H. Williams III, and his recent Batwoman work in Detective Comics [Jog at Savage Critics]
Found via its being named among the Best Online Comics Criticism of 02009 at Hooded Utilitarian.
Another appreciation for Williams, "Son of Steranko", those who deign to add graphic design and experimentation to genre gigs [Thought Balloonists]

Uncredited artwork at the MoCCA Archie exhibit picks at comics-industry creator-exploitation scabs, highlights MoCCA chronic under-staffing/funding problems [The Beat] [Comics Comics] [Comics Reporter]
You've never gone to an art museum and seen uncredited work. Until now. Dropped ball, putting it kindly.

Speaking of the above: Marvel sues to invalidate copyright claims by Jack Kirby's heirs [Robot 6]

Bendis' Avengers characters don't talk to each other- they talk to, mirror, and pander to, Avengers fans on the internet [Comiks Debris]

Let's tell the publishers in our best Frankenstein's Monster voice: "Unannounced creative-team changes, BAD!" [Savage Critics]

Steven Grant's long-running Permanent Damage (nee Master of the Obvious) column ending [Comic Book Resources]
Neilalien linked to about 200 of those things. Best of luck, Mr. Grant.

Posted 13 January 02010 - Permalink

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PFFBBBT!!! Ryan Dunlavey's Fall of the Hulks: M.O.D.O.K. #1 includes funny Doctor Strange spit-take [Robot 6]

Complete analysis of "the deal with the devil" (Doctor Strange v. Tul'uth re: the fate of the baseball team) in Waid's Strange #1 [Ecocomics]

Craig Yoe's The Art of Ditko "represents a lot of what makes Ditko great and, yes, Stan, inimitable" [Trouble With Comics]

More Casanova on the way! Yay! [Robot 6]

Alan Moore interviewed re: his new print zine Dodgem Logic [Wired]

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Marvel Shareholders Approve Disney Takeover [AP blurb on the New York Times website]

Disney closes Marvel deal; acquires 10% of Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment also! [Variety] [Zacks Equity Research]

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Avatar Neilalien has nothing new nor original to add to the Avatar review meme. But he'll keep on writing anyhoo. The movie is lusciously beautiful, a technical achievement, and filled with neat ideas- if you're at all interested or curious, it is highly recommended you see it in the theater in 3-D (which works great), because your TV will not do it justice. This isn't your dad's Spider-Man CGI of a fake-looking rubber man on a webline. Only in a couple spots does it look poor (Sigourney Weaver's avatar is a total fail, though). While Neilalien wouldn't call the movie hollow or irredeemably void of emotional engagability (anything with Michelle Rodriguez wearing a tank top in it is going to generate emotion in Neilalien...), there are certainly things that distract from the astounding sights, beyond the usual nits. (1) A decision was clearly made that if you're going plunk 300 gazongas of money, time and effort into a CGI movie, the story had better be safe, and it is safe. It travels well-worn plot formulas and character types and stereotypes, and nothing surprises, this is the droid you've seen before. (2) It feels like an anti-Iraq-War movie through the lens of World of Warcraft, The Battle of Endor, and Cameron's usual no-one's-really-that-one-dimensional no-one-really-talks-like-that. (3) Neilalien was kind of thinking what other internet-lovers have thought- that if the natives did have such a natural planet-sized internet/library of all their past or whatever it was, there would have been other benefits. They would have progressed much further technologically than the equivalent of the Stone Age as a result (the tech might have been all-natural, but it would have been more advanced- it was advanced in places, like how they could body-swap someone into their avatar). It's as if they had this huge powerful information-sharing system and only used it for Facebook and porn... um, waitasec...

Posted 6 January 02010 - Permalink

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The Doctor Voodoo series to end with issue #5 [Rick Remender interview at]

Paul O'Brien's November 02009 month-to-month sales analysis warned us that Voodoo #2 selling 16,681 copies wasn't pretty. There will be no dancing on graves here, per Neilalien's boycott-but-don't-be-an-ass editorial policy. Actually, Neilalien finds absolutely zero comfort in this development. Marvel can't win in his eyes. A Marvel Mystic book showing another character eating Doctor Strange's lunch is only slightly worse a thing than any Marvel Mystic book totally not given a chance to succeed. Neilalien would love to say that the fans/markets have spoken, rising up as he has, demanding Doctor Strange over Doctor Voodoo- but that rose-colored analysis misses too many other facets. Doctor Strange hasn't exactly been a sales champion lately either. Magic doesn't sell to the superhero crowd? There's little difference between B-list and C-list character preferences and sales in an industry/market destroying its own long tail. And unfortunately any analysis would be incomplete and naive without asking, Why Don't "Black Books" Sell? Bottom line: For Doctor Strange fans, the limbo to which they've become so accustomed after several title cancellations and lame-ass reformulations over the decades will continue. This website awaits the day when Dr. Strange's Beta Ray Bill phase is over, and Marvel Editorial deigns to return Doc's Mjolnir to him- Eye, Cloak, seat atop the Marvel Mystic hierarchy, etc. Or awaits a good yarn that shows us that this current Mjolnirlessness really is the better narrative- that something fun and dignified has been unleashed from the oppressive yokes of Sorcerer-Supreme responsibilities, power levels too high and undefined to be interesting, and nearly 50 publishing years of status quo. Or awaits just the next good Doctor Strange story, period.

Update: Marvel Editorial not interested in Doc Classic, while market factors make a non-Classic approach dicey [Comics Reporter]

Posted 2 January 02010 - Permalink

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Doctor Strange Is Likely Not A Heart Surgeon

Neilalien enjoyed the recent New Avengers #60: Immonen's art is fantastic as usual, Doctor Strange is fairly competent here (detecting the bomb, insisting it gets removed, getting shrunk down by Pym particles (first time ever?) and going into Luke Cage's body to get the bomb out with Pym, Doc even gets a little nicely punchy when people question his abilities/readiness, etc.- although seeing the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak or Shield of the Seraphim or something used as a wall to keep Cage's immune response at bay would have been nice touch- Voodoo does nada), where they put the bomb once removed is hilarious, the Bendis Banter between this family of characters is fun, etc.

Unfortch for the Doc fans, New Avengers #60 also includes this steaming turd:

New Avengers #60 New Avengers #60

Walt Simonson once said, paraphrasing a P.D. James character, "Continuity is a good servant but a poor master." So true. But fans like attention to detail. You can say sarcastically that they like having their encyclopedic expertise generated on lonely weekend nights validated if you must- but they are the ones buying your comics. Fans certainly do NOT like the utter disregard/contempt for detail. This is Bendis' Chaos Magic brouhaha all over again. Does Bendis do even the most minimum research into these characters? Do Bendis' editors? Tom Brevoort should know better. With the most cursory glance at an OHOTMU entry, a writer can make continuity his servant, rather than be mastered by it.

There is nothing in the comic book record that has ever said that Doctor Strange is a heart surgeon. The meme is that he was a neurosurgeon.

Surprisingly, given the strength of the neurosurgeon meme in the Doc fan community, when Neilalien was going through the comic book record for this post, he discovered that the case for neurosurgeon is not overwhelming. Mostly, only "surgeon" is mentioned. But neurosurgeon is there- expertise with the heart has never been mentioned.

Strange Tales #115

Above: Strange Tales #115. Only "surgeon". Doctor Strange's Wikipedia page currently states: "Strange appeared in the following issue and then #114 before co-creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave his origin story in #115 (Dec. [0]1963). In that eight-page tale, Strange is established as a world-renowned if selfish neurosurgeon, until a car accident damages his hands and prevents him from conducting surgery.". But that isn't correct- neurosurgery isn't mentioned in #115.

Doctor Strange #169

Above: Doctor Strange #169, the origin retelling. Neilalien thinks this is where "neurosurgeon" is established.

Doctor Strange #56

Above: Doctor Strange #56, another origin retelling. Only "surgeon". Do neurosurgeons look at chest x-rays?

Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #11

Above: Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #11, while relating the tale of what happpened to his brother Vic. Only "surgeon"- it is suggested he is to attend to a heart attack?

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1

Above: Doctor Strange: The Oath #1. Only "surgeon". Vaughan succeeds, or at least keeps it simple, where Bendis fails.

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #3

Above: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #3 (March 01983), Doctor Strange entry. "Neurosurgeon". Can't Bendis at least just read these OHOTMU entries before writing 100's of issues with these characters? It's not brain surgery, y'know (rimshot)!

His most recently updated biography, on itself, currently says neurosurgeon. (He was also a neurosurgeon in his animated DVD movie, but we don't put any canon-weight to that.)

Doctor Strange #80 [Polite Dissent post] is problematic- through astral control, Doc performs an operation that "used to be one of his specialties", and there seems to be a lot of chest/heart repair work being done (while neurosurgery seems to be more about the brain, spine, etc.). But again, it's left vague enough that it could be some kind of neurosurgery, or that Doc is there to more fight the mystic threats, or keep the real surgeon calm, or he may have bluffed the real surgeon in order to get the scalpel in his hands again.

Granted, in New Avengers #60, at least Doctor Strange himself doesn't actually assert, "I am a cardiologist"- Jessica Jones and Doctor Voodoo (based on what Jessica said) say it. What do they know? But it's not like Strange corrects them (maybe he doesn't correct them because he's finally learned that if he acts clueless around them, they'll give the action-gig to Voodoo instead). And it's obviously there to add some weight to the story.

Is it possible that Dr. Strange had multiple specialties? Was he that brilliant? Did he have the time? Or, as Polite Dissent often states, in comic lingo "surgeon" is shorthand for (to paraphrase) "better than any normal doctor and good at just about any type of medicine he puts his hand to".

If you actually give a crap about Doctor Strange on a meta level- and one would hope that his writers do- then you care that neurosurgeon is the better meme for Doctor Strange's origin. First, it's an elegant symmetry that nerve-guy Doc gets nerve damage from the car accident. Was Doc the only person who could have possibly repaired his own hands? (Or maybe he was the heart surgeon without a heart?) Second, on this Wikipedia page of medical specialties, neurosurgeon has the highest salary. Sound like any former arrogant money-grubbing surgeon we know?

The bummer is that with the smallest of aware tweaks, there's no problem whatsoever. You don't even have to alter the size of the word balloon in that first panel. Just have Jessica say, "You're Doctor Strange. You're a doctor. Can't you do--".

So, Doc uberfans, Neilalienistas, Dr. Polite Dissent- feel free to send in or post corrections, evidence, other mentions of Doctor Strange's Doctorness that Neilalien may have missed, thoughts, etc. Until further notice, the official position of this website is that Bendis dropped the ball here. Again.

Polite Dissent neurosurgery entry

Special thanks to Sanctum Sanctorum Comix for help on this post!

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A Happy New Year to all!

Posted 1 January 02010 - Permalink

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