L: Amazing Spider-Man #123 (July 1973), art by John Romita, Sr.
R: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10 (September 2006), art by Mike Wieringo, Karl Kesel, and Paul Mounts
(Click picture to Osborn-rap-sheet-size)
And now, a little something for the ladies. (And Dorian.) You and I know Doctor Stephen Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme, which sounds like one heck of a deal at Pizza Hut but which is actually the All-High-Dumbledore of Earth-616, the guy the Avengers run to when they need a rabbit pulled out of a hat or whom Spider-Man needs when he's threatened by mystic forces beyond the ken of mortal man...f'r instance, that street-vendor hot dog he ate the other night while on crime patrol. Since he got his fingers squished in that unfortunate DUI accident, Doc's been able to make all those crazy Steve Ditko hand-signals to summon up devils and demons and he does a really good saw the Clea in half trick. And he has the best attic window in all of lower Manhattan. But here's what you didn't know about Doc Strange (unless you're Mrs. Kim, his body waxer)Stephen Strange has the most defined abdominal muscles of any magician since Charles Carter and the unfortunate backfiring sit-up spell of 1913:
All panels from Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual #4 (1994), script by David Quinn, pencils and inks by Kyle Hotz, colors by Heroic Age, letters by Janice Chiang
Whoo mama! Check out those washboard abs! Let me count here...two...four...six...looks like Doc's sportin' a eight-pack here, which may not be entirely necessary for a guy whose schtick is to sit around and gesture meaningfully at things to kick off his adventures. I think that in addition to honing his craft with the Eye of Agamotto and the Book of the Vishanti and the Marbles of Fantubula and the Disappearing Dove Trick of Doug Henning, Doc has been honing his bod quite a bit on the machines at "Physique," that hot new gym on 11th Street, where all the Greenwich Village gals enjoy eyeing the mustachioed hunk working out on the weight machine while listening to ELO on his iPod and reading the Necronomicon or the latest by Dan Brown. Yes, even when he's riddled by mystic bullets (and I think we all know how painful that can be!), Doc's chiseled abs retain their attractive definition and musculature. If you're wondering why, unlike The Thing, he never takes his shirt off while he's fighting...it's just because he doesn't want to have an unfair advantage.
How strong are Stephen Strange's mystic abs? So strong that they can actually heal themselves to avoid being seen as anything other than rock-hard rippling muscle. Take that, Wolverine's healing factor!
Yes, it's true: with his manly-man chest and steel-solid stomach, Doc is a breath of testosterone-infused fresh air in a comics genre that is usually lovingly focused on female anatomy cheesecake-style...I'm lookin' at you, Gotham City Sirens! And don't think I forgot you, cover of Marvel Divas!
Is it any wonder that She-Hulk and Doc were an item for six months? No. No, it is not. Does it surprise you that Zatanna crossed over from her own universe just to check him out? Nope! Why, having a magnificently defined, rock-hard stomach has been Stephen Strange's comfort and joy since he was ousted from the seat of Sorcerer Supreme by Brother "Beer Belly" Voodoo. Yes, Doctor Strange is more than just a hunk of raw, powerful man-flesh...but on the other hand...um...what was I talking about?
So, let that be a lesson to you all, aspiring magicians! Yes, it's important to learn all the tricks of the trade before you can become a successful stage conjuror. Practice and practice to learn the pass, and the palm, and the ditch, and the sticky badger, and the pink flamingo, and the peanut-butter and jam sandwich, and all the other important moves you need to misdirect the eye and perform real honest-to-Wong magic. You'll also need to work with the crystal ball, the magic wand, the hallows of death, the half-blood prince, the order of the phoenix...and would it hurt you to get yourself a cool name, like Magnifico the Magnificent or Mister Illusion? Be a little professional about it, gee!
But, whatever else you do in training yourself to be a full-fledged master magician...don't forget to use the one tool most needed by a true practicer of perilous prestidigitation...The Abdomenizer.