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Strange Tales #134

Strange Tales (1951) #134

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JackStamper member

Urgh...we once again have a weak Torch-story, with all the elements of "Hey, look at me, look at all these things in this story, take me seriously!" The Watcher appears to warn the FF about a threat that threatens the earth. Only problem is: The threat is Kang, and he works in the past. Which kinda means either they have all the time in the world, since they do have to time travel after all, or everything is already over, since what happened, happened thousands of years ago.

But the Marvelverse kinda seems to run on a looping timescale, meaning: time doesn't go in a line, it unravels itself in a spiral, so after a certain time has passed, one is directly above something from the past again. So, if someone travels a certain amount of time in the past, whatever happened there only effects the timeline directly above it, and for the full timeline to be affected, the effects have to survive a full loop of the timeline. It also means: Both the medieval adventures and the present time flow with the same speed, if you're five minutes in the past, you're away for five minutes in the present. Unless you land on another loop. Well, that's my theory for it all, anyway.

And even that doesn't work too well: No matter, how you look at it, Kangs assault doesn't happen "Now", since he came from the future and goes to the past. The Watcher might be able to sense his actions, but in that case, he must sense it in ALL time periods, meaning he surely can find ONE, where all of the FF are present. Or the Avengers, for that matter, since Kang isn't a FF-villain, and, as far as I remember, never fought them before (yet somehow they were the first hero group he thought about).

Kang wants to conquer the round table, so he can destroy the future and the Avengers, for that matter. Not only avoiding a fair duel (which is odd, he is arrogant enough to never avoid such a thing, since he is sure in his superiority), but...well, destroying himself in the process, since he IS from the future. So yeah, very stupid idea. He traps Merlin and defeats the knights of the round table...on horse. Okay? He builds somewhat modern weapons (Oh come on, you have way better stuff on your ship), that don't work at all against Thing and Torchie. Although the Torch is taken out by his airlance, and...an unfinished idea, it seems. At first Stan writes: "A second gust of wind will prevent your flame from returning for an hour", and later the torch explains merlin, he is instead doused with some chemicals - seems Stan noticed, that the first explanation didn't make any sense.

Torch frees Merlin, Merlin frees him of the chemicals and destroys Kang's source of power of screen, Kang turns radioactive (that can't be good) and flees, and somehow the Thing doesn't remember, that the Watcher sent them here and will surely bring them back to the present, because for one panel he mopes about being stuck in the past. Oh, also: Arthur swears to never come back, since he was bested in battle. He somehow still comes back, before Kang is beaten, basically breaking his vow, so...yeah, Stan claims Arthur is a liar!

The Strange story is infinitely more interesting and logical. Strange gets back to earth and finds a run-down hotel as a resting place, before using his astral-form to check on the Ancient One. Now with some time on his hands, he can start treating him, using his amulet to give him a power boost. Unfortunately, he forgets to turn of his visibility on his way back and gets in a fight with Mordo and his helpers in their astral-forms. But the girl Strange befriended in Dormammus dimension risks her life by weakening the barrier in said dimension, leaving Dormmamu distracted by pushing back the mindless ones, leaving Mordo without his power source. Strange then tricks him by flying into the sun, where the radioactivity can be lethal for both of them, figuring: Either we both die, and the world is free from Mordo, or the Baron chickens out and I can escape". It works, since Mordo suspects Strange now knows a spell to shield him from the radiation, and so he escapes. Strange escapes as well, strengthens the Ancient One once more and now sets on the task of figuring out, what his whispered words mean...

From beginning to end an enjoyable, suspenseful and intelligent story, that outshines it's prelude more brightly than ever. If I had been living in the sixties, I'd probably by this mag for Doc Strange alone...

davidspofforth member

I agree, mostly, with that analysis of the weak (as usual) Torch story. But it is wrong to suggest that that the Watcher should have sought out the Avengers as the FF had never fought Kang. Point of fact, the FF fought Kang long before the Avengers (except he called himself Rama Tut at the time). Also, the Watcher knows the FF and trusts them. Why would he reveal his secret existence to a different team when he already knows the "World's Greatest"?

JackStamper member

@davidspofforth Fair enough. Yet I still think he'd be better of with the Avengers. He watched them as well, and he knows how valiant they are, so he could trust them. And they actually have fought KANG, and not a previous version of him. But than again, the watcher was just a means to throw them into the past, so...doesn't make sense in the first place.

calecp01 member

I'm sure we can all agree on one thing though: Stilt-Knight was hilarious.