Friday, April 30, 2010

1983 – Doctor Strange

A drought of horror comics stretched after the 1970s revolution that had been spearheaded by Tomb of Dracula and the edgier 1990s titles like Ghost Rider and Morbius. The 1980s were pretty sparse in terms of horror comic books, in particular for Marvel Comics as DC Comics had their acclaimed and award-winning Swamp Thing title written by Alan Moore. However, one title, Dr. Strange, although more supernatural than horror, kept an eye on the darker corners of the Marvel Universe.

Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystical Arts and Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, finally turned his attention the hordes of vampires that plague the Earth. The Lord of Vampires and the Sorcerer Supreme had clashed in the 1970s where Strange was victorious and had left Dracula for dead.

Veteran 1980s comic scribe Roger Stern wrote The Montesi Formula story arc running through Doctor Strange #58-62. What’s refreshing about this story is that while it’s an event that affects the large Marvel Universe, it doesn’t feel like one of the events that currently plagues comic books today like Secret Invasion or Blackest Night.

The art stands up quite well with Dan Green and Steve Leialoha providing the moody, action-filled panels.

Issue #60 stands out with horror slamming into the Marvel Universe as the vampire hordes of Dracula siege Avengers Mansion as the Lord of Vampires tries to get his hands on the famed mystical tome, the Darkhold. The Darkhold contains a spell, The Montesi Formula, that can purge the planet of all vampires.

The storyline culminates with issue #62 bringing together all the carefully woven story threads. In a fine tribute to the 1970s Tomb of Dracula, Blade and Frank Drake are called upon to defend Strange from Dracula as the Sorcerer Supreme attempts to read the Montesi Formula.

If you love vampires, mystical cults, dark sorcery, and the Marvel Universe, this story is worth tracking down. This storyline as well as the 1970s crossover is available in the Dr. Strange vs. Dracula: The Montesi Formula Trade Paperback.

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