Thursday, August 26, 2010

Doctor Strange, Quick-Thinking Man of Instant Action!

Nightmare!I love sleeping, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and not just for a delicious, cold frosty glass of chock'lit milk. (Although it's always time for chock'lit milk!). No, ordinary guys like you and me, sleeping in the middle of the night, might be awakened by noisy neighbors, alley cats howling, or Frank Castle cleaning up a mob money laundering center in the apartment next door. Or, maybe a bad dream brought on by DC's Morpheus or Marvel's done-right version, Sleepwalker.

Not so the (ex)-Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, the Dumfoundering Dr. Stephen Strange! Why, Steve himself might be awoken at any moment through the cold wee hours of the night, aroused from slumber in his Select Comfort Bed (Sleep Mattress Number: 666) for many different and astounding reasons: perhaps Dormammu is invading New Jersey! Or Baron Mordo ordered him twenty-five pizzas to be delivered at three AM, and all of them have pineapple on them! Or, maybe Wong just knocked over some pots and pans in the Strange Kitchen.

Or maybe, he forgets to hit his snooze alarm and gets this:

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom
Panels from Marvel Graphic Novel #49: Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989), script by Roger Stern, pencils by Mike Mignola, inks and colors by Mark Badger, letters by Jim Novak

Now, what can we learn from this? First, that this is a matter of the most urgent essence, and Dr. Strange must immediately snap into action to dive immediately into this emergency adventure. Two, that Doc buys his home decorations at Pier 1, and three, and perhaps most important, Doctor Strange does not wear pajamas. (And Clea isn't even there! Well, maybe she's having a sleepover at Sara Wolfe's.)

Also, wow, the Aged Genghis has a sense of the dramatic, huh? You can just hear that last word echoing: "Destiny nee nee nee nee."

Anyway, the hands on Doc's Magica da Spell wristwatch are ticking away and time is of the essence! Strange must act, immediately! Which he does in the most dramatic and intense way to be seen in graphic superhero fiction: by calling his travel agent.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

Doc, it's called Expedia and it even works in the Marvel Universe.

This is when the clock starts ticking, so let's start timing Doc's journey. Or, more precisely, let's start timing Doctor Strange's train of thought. Here's the next quartet of panels:

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

My point...and I do have that
Dr. Strange thinks reeeeeeeeal slow.

His thought begins as he's picking up a cab outside his Sanctum Sanctorum, which, as any tour guide in Manhattan will tell you, is right over there next to the Starbuck', not that one, the one over, the other Starbuck's...oh yes, I didn't see that one, okay, the one down the street from that...there ya go!: 177A Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

As a New Yorker, there's one thought that pops into my head when I see this panel (and it's not about Doc's snazzy green and black collegiate v-neck sweater): who the Sam Scratch calls for a taxi in New York City? Answer: out of towners. Real New Yorkers (and Doc's been established there since before the Beatles arrived at Idlewild) know that if you want a cab, all you do is step out in the street, wave at one, and it'll pull up right away for you. (Unless you're Luke Cage.)

No, when they're going to John F. Kennedy Airport, most New Yorkers either grab a taxicab, or, much more likely, call for a car service. New York car services are town cars for private hire: more expensive than yellow taxicabs, but no extra surprise charges (the price is a flat price, plus tips and tolls, set from the beginning) and you can ride in much more relative comfort. Plus, there's no risk that you might not be able to catch a cab if it's a busy time of day. Why, Doc or Wong just shoulda ordered up a town car from Dial 7 Car & Limousine Service. There's no excuse for not remembering the phone number: it's 777-7777. That way Doc coulda avoided being this guy:

Now, since time is of the essence, the first thing Doc's gonna tell the driver is stay off the BQE. But let's assume the driver knows where he's going (and believe me, I've had town car drivers who don't) and given some decent traffic ...for instance, Spider-Man isn't trying to stop Norman Osborn from tossing his girlfriend off the Brooklyn Bridge...and Strange will be at JFK in about half an hour.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

So, Doc arrives at JFK for his international flight, and must then immediately and promptly wait about two hours for boarding. That'll definitely give him enough time to hit the food court, get a cup of coffee at Starbuck', not the one by gate 23, the one by gate, next to that one...but by the time the plane takes off, it's probably about two and a half to three hours later. And he is still continuing the same thought.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

I'm assuming Doc travels first class, or at least Magician Business, so he can stretch out his long legs, sip the complementary champagne and orange juice, and enjoy the complimentary headphones to watch Kevin Costner's Tin Cup. It's a fairly long flight with a transfer in Hong Kong, so let's hope Steven brought his Griffin TuneJuice 2 and the entire four-and-a-half volume Twilight series to while away the time. He'll arrive in Jakarta on the island of Java in Indonesia twenty-two and a half hours after the plane left JFK. Let's hope the good Doctor doesn't have a phobia about airplane bathrooms.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

I assume that Strange gets a taxi out of the city of Jakarta, but at some point he hops onto a local bus...still continuing the same thought... and then grabs a passing amusement park African Queen thrill ride boat (Katharine Hepburn with umbrella sold separately)...finally finishing the same thought.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

Might I say it again?
Dr. Strange thinks reeeeeeeeal slow.

Go ahead, read the following sentence aloud and time yourself:
It is best that I restrict myself to more mundane modes of transportation until I know more about this "question of power" and why an entire gathering of sorcerers is required to deal with it!
Did you do the voice? I bet you did the voice. Anyway, consider that it took Strange probably more than one full day to think that. Pietro Maximoff he ain't.

We don't know exactly where the Temple of the Three is in Java, but boy, it does a good dramatic entrance, don't it?

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

And Mignola was, like Carl Barks, clearly reading his National Geographics for visual research: aside from the twenty story carved visage of Charles Xavier on the front, the Temple of the Three distinctly looks like real Indonesian temples of the time.

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

Please note above that Doc decides he's going to change his travel clothes before he enters the temple. I dunno what he's gonna change into, but I sure hope it's this outfit from Doctor Strange v.2 #49:

Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom

Meanwhile, Dr. Doom's been there for ages, sitting at the hotel bar and sullenly drinking mai-tais. I bet he got in more than one thought on the journey. And probably most of them were "ACCURSED RICHARDS!"

So, the moral of the story: never pick Steven Strange to be your partner on $25,000 Pyramid.


Your Obedient Serpent said...

Ah, Marvel New York. It had some verisimilitude back when Stan and Jack and most of the rest of the Marvel creators actually lived in NYC, or were at least from there, but once the House of Ideas started casting its net wider, it became as much a fictional construct as Metropolis or Gotham.

Here's a secret: it never did feel any more real to a kid growing up in Southern California (or an adult living in San Jose). East Coast cities in general, and New York specifically, are entirely different from their West Coast counterparts. The New York of comics and movies and television might as well have been Metropolis.

Or Bespin.

Or Minas Tirith.

(Of course, on the other claw, I never thought twice about the palm trees and brush-covered hills surrounding the low-lying sprawl of Adam West's "Gotham". I mean, that was what the real world looked like.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

Here's my attempt at a No-Prize: because of the various protection spells Dr. Strange has erected around his Sanctum, he has to specifically summon a cab in order for the driver to be able to notice the building. Otherwise, most non-mystically-attuned drivers would just drive on past while blithely ignoring the strange building on the corner of Bleeker St.

Unless the cab driver just happened to be Jake Lockley, however, whose affinity with Khonshu would enable him to perceive the Sanctum in all its glory.

Kid Kyoto said...

"It had some verisimilitude back when Stan and Jack and most of the rest of the Marvel creators actually lived in NYC, or were at least from there, but once the House of Ideas started casting its net wider, it became as much a fictional construct as Metropolis or Gotham."

Blame Fed Ex, Fax machines, cheap long distance calling and that new-fangled intertubes thing the kids are all talking about. Till the late 70s everyone had to live in a reasonable distance of NY just to get their scripts and art in on time.