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  1. #661

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert1981 View Post
    So basically Strange is a victim of the "Worf Effect" because he's perceived to be as too strong by Marvel?!
    Yep. Pretty much.

  2. #662

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    No Strange Academy in the July solicts...

  3. #663
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    Yep. Pretty much.
    I guess Marvel really REALLY wants to avoid the "A Wizard Did It" trope, so they de-powered Strange to a significant degree:

    https://allthetropes.fandom.com/wiki/A_Wizard_Did_It

  4. #664

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert1981 View Post
    I guess Marvel really REALLY wants to avoid the "A Wizard Did It" trope, so they de-powered Strange to a significant degree:

    https://allthetropes.fandom.com/wiki/A_Wizard_Did_It
    Or came up with reasons why he couldn't or wouldn't get involved.

    The one time I thought it actually worked was in Civil War:


  5. #665
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    Or came up with reasons why he couldn't or wouldn't get involved.

    The one time I thought it actually worked was in Civil War:

    Well, that's very big and high-minded of Stephen. I guess politics is beneath him. The stance he took then DOES work in the context of that particular story. Maybe it's for the best if Strange does some benchwarming. Marvel needs to get its magical "policies" in order first. Comments like these don't give me much hope that Strange will be written well in the future:

    "Marvel just doesn't know how to write Strange. Plain and simple. Dr. Strange is a great character and he should have his own title. But the problem is his place in the Marvel Universe where stuff can only get punched or blown up. As soon as you say "Magic" the story has to go into some crazy wacked out dimension where the ceiling is the floor and practically everything is a melting clock.

    He's like Marvel's plumber. Something magic happens and the basement gets flooded with demons and you phone up Dr. Strange.

    That quote Alonso made is priceless. "We need to figure out what Marvel magic is." Emphasis on the "we." Comics are becoming committee driven entities.

    When can't the magical portion of Marvel's Universe be just as compelling as the "guns and bombs" stuff? Why doesn't Doctor Strange tangle with Loki and Magneto?"

    The above comments were made almost a decade ago!

    Magic is often a difficult subject for a lot of writers to tackle. It is freeing (No rules!!) and limiting (How do I resolve this without rules?!). So they end up with wacky nonsense going on. And somehow magic books end up being ridiculously talky.

    The Harry Potter series was smart in the sense that most powers / spells had physical effects. Eat this you can look like someone else. Put this on and you're invisible. Hit them with that and they die.
    Last edited by Albert1981; 04-22-2021 at 10:23 AM.

  6. #666

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    I think with Stephen, there are two main waysyou can go, neither of which lend themselves to traditional superheroics.

    The first is the epic "defender of the walls of reality" take, where he regularly has to confront arcane Lovecraftian forces that would make Iron Man quiver in his armor.

    (The problem with this take, tho, is escalation. How do you top saving reality, month after month?)

    The other is to operate in the shadows, exploring the uncanny beings that linger on the fringes of our rational world. The early Ditko stories were like that.

    (This is a challenge of creativity, not power. There is a lot of folklore to explore, but not all of it makes for a good comic).

    Fighting Mordo, Dormammu, and/or Nightmare for the umpteenth time doesn't cut it.

  7. #667
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    I think with Stephen, there are two main waysyou can go, neither of which lend themselves to traditional superheroics.

    The first is the epic "defender of the walls of reality" take, where he regularly has to confront arcane Lovecraftian forces that would make Iron Man quiver in his armor.

    (The problem with this take, tho, is escalation. How do you top saving reality, month after month?)

    The other is to operate in the shadows, exploring the uncanny beings that linger on the fringes of our rational world. The early Ditko stories were like that.

    (This is a challenge of creativity, not power. There is a lot of folklore to explore, but not all of it makes for a good comic).

    Fighting Mordo, Dormammu, and/or Nightmare for the umpteenth time doesn't cut it.
    Yeah, to me Doctor Strange could also work as a "fantasy" character as opposed to a "superhero" one. I think him and Loki are the two main Marvel magic users who could pull this off. But I agree, Stephen doesn't always lend himself to typical action-adventure Marvel fare. The esoteric concepts (both visually and in script) might be a bit difficult for the normal comic reader who is used to Hulk "Smash", Spider-Man "Thwippt" and Wolverine "Snikt". Not that there is any thing wrong with those examples. On the contrary, they can be quite entertaining. Judging by the comments Stephen fans have made on this thread, the key to enjoying Dr. Strange is to be able to think a little deeper about concepts that are transcendent. However, some comic book fans might be turned off by that kind of thing.

    And personally I LOVE the floor/ceiling mergers and melting clocks. Makes me feel like I'm looking at Dali paintings!
    Last edited by Albert1981; 04-22-2021 at 11:11 AM.

  8. #668

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert1981 View Post
    Yeah, to me Doctor Strange could also work as a "fantasy" character as opposed to a "superhero" one. I think him and Loki are the two main Marvel magic users who could pull this off.
    There are a few others, like Scarlet Witch, Doctor/Brother Voodoo, or maybe Talisman/Shaman (assuming they aren't dead again). I'm not sure I'd include Loki, though... gods complicate matters.

  9. #669
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    There are a few others, like Scarlet Witch, Doctor/Brother Voodoo, or maybe Talisman/Shaman (assuming they aren't dead again). I'm not sure I'd include Loki, though... gods complicate matters.
    Yeah, I agree with you. But don't Marvel editors today seem to think ALL their magical characters are walking, talking deus ex machinas? Loki is more like a benevolent Saruman to me. And I also make distinctions between humans and deities when it comes to using magic. Not all folks online think magic is something difficult to write about:

    "While magic seems to be a difficult topic for many writers to handle well, I don't think that is an inherent problem with the subject matter. To me, it's just a matter of coming up with a set of quasi-official rules that are applied reasonably consistently. A similar situation applied to shows like "Buffy" and "Angel"; the rules were arbitrary, to be sure, but they were applied on a reasonably consistent basis (e.g. vampires can't enter a private home unless invited; once invited, a special ritual was needed to exclude them again). The writing on Dr. Strange has varied markedly in quality over the years, but the terrific runs by Lee and Ditko, and by Engelhart and Stern, establish that it can be done quite well."

    Rules being applied on a reasonably consistent basis could help Strange and other magical characters in the Marvel Universe immensely. It obviously worked before!

  10. #670
    Dark Dimension Clea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    I think with Stephen, there are two main waysyou can go, neither of which lend themselves to traditional superheroics.

    The first is the epic "defender of the walls of reality" take, where he regularly has to confront arcane Lovecraftian forces that would make Iron Man quiver in his armor.

    (The problem with this take, tho, is escalation. How do you top saving reality, month after month?)

    The other is to operate in the shadows, exploring the uncanny beings that linger on the fringes of our rational world. The early Ditko stories were like that.

    (This is a challenge of creativity, not power. There is a lot of folklore to explore, but not all of it makes for a good comic).

    Fighting Mordo, Dormammu, and/or Nightmare for the umpteenth time doesn't cut it.
    Quote Originally Posted by DigiCom View Post
    There are a few others, like Scarlet Witch, Doctor/Brother Voodoo, or maybe Talisman/Shaman (assuming they aren't dead again). I'm not sure I'd include Loki, though... gods complicate matters.
    I think you've hit on the central puzzle of how to write for Doctor Strange. I think Strange originally felt more like a fantasy-pulp fiction superhero more than a just another costumed super being, but even back in the silver age he was still more similar to the other superheroes than different. He has powers (with rules), supporting characters, and recurring villains just like all the other superheroes.

    IMO, people who get all hung up on the magic vs non-magic nature of Strange's powers are entirely missing the point of what makes him a problematic character to write for these days. He's problematic because of his power level, not because he's a magic user. Strange is at the tippy top of the magical users for the entire dimension. His foes are dimension-level threats. Over the decades, he's seen the universe destroyed and rebuilt, he's conquered death, he's lived thousands of years, and he's saved reality countless times. Each writer that has come along has tried to make their version of Strange-saves-reality cooler and more extravagant than the previous stories. So, while those stories are all thrilling to read, they also serve to constrain Strange into a smaller and smaller box of stories you can put him in. How do you take a character at this power level and stick him on a street-level team of Avengers?

    Marvel's answer has been to depower him significantly so that they can use him along side the Avengers and other non-magical characters. A good writer can still show him "exploring the uncanny beings that linger on the fringes of our rational world" as you put it, and still have him work with the Avengers against major, non-magical threats. Not every story needs to be about Strange vanquishing Dormammu or Shuma Gorath again, but neither should those foes be forgotten because they're always out there trying to take over the Earth dimension. Depower Strange too much, and what happens to his ability to defend the Earth against Dormammu (or who knows, even against the Vishanti should they decide that they no longer need to ally with the Earth dimension)? How do writers keep the character just consistent enough with his past history, and yet freshen him up for new stories and different kinds of opponents?
    Live Faust, Die Jung.

  11. #671
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    I do like how there are cultural aspects of magic in the books that Strange reads. Mysticism is primarily (but not limited to) the principles, practices and forces found in ancient eastern and near-eastern traditions, myths, philosophies and religions. Real world examples would include, but not be limited to: Tibetan Buddhism, Vodou, witchcraft, Wiccan, the occult, indigenous Shamanism of North America and Australia, etc. I wonder if Stephen dived into that kind of thing during his "career" as a magic user to any significant degree. A Dr. Strange series based on actual combined Eastern and Western traditions could be very interesting. It would certainly eliminate the "Deus ex Machina" problem. But I'm not sure if comic book readers would like it.

  12. #672
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Here's a comment I found SUPPORTING Marvel's position on magic:

    "Marvel's right.

    A reader needs to have a sense of a character's logical limitations, or the sense of jeopardy, and hence the reader's involvement, won't be there. For example--in the Captain America movie, we see Cap doing all kinds of amazing superhuman things, but we also know that a single bullet can kill him, so there is always danger. We see him singlehandedly invade Red Skull's base, but he quickly becomes trapped by a group of soldiers with flamethrowers. We know those flames can kill him too. With Doctor Strange, you never know what exactly can hurt him and what can't because magic has no rules and no boundaries. Can he throw up a mystic shield? Can he leave his body and do something in his astral form? Can he say an incantation and suddenly the bad guys turn into toads? Who knows? But the reader needs to know, or else Doc doesn't really work. The Lee/Ditko stuff was effective because Doc was presented as an apprentice still learning the trade and was often beset by more powerful enemies (Nightmare, Dormammu.) Once the Ancient One died and Doc graduated to Master of the Mystic Arts, there was no sense of him being the underdog anymore and I know that whenever I read a Doc comic the instances in which Doc could utter an incantation to get out of a tight spot versus the instances where he couldn't seemed to be completely arbitrary.

    Restructuring magic for Marvel might be as simple as giving Doc a definite energy limit, or as complex as limiting the types of spells he can cast, but something needs to be done."

  13. #673
    Dark Dimension Clea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert1981 View Post
    Here's a comment I found SUPPORTING Marvel's position on magic:

    "Marvel's right.

    A reader needs to have a sense of a character's logical limitations, or the sense of jeopardy, and hence the reader's involvement, won't be there. For example--in the Captain America movie, we see Cap doing all kinds of amazing superhuman things, but we also know that a single bullet can kill him, so there is always danger. We see him singlehandedly invade Red Skull's base, but he quickly becomes trapped by a group of soldiers with flamethrowers. We know those flames can kill him too. With Doctor Strange, you never know what exactly can hurt him and what can't because magic has no rules and no boundaries. Can he throw up a mystic shield? Can he leave his body and do something in his astral form? Can he say an incantation and suddenly the bad guys turn into toads? Who knows? But the reader needs to know, or else Doc doesn't really work. The Lee/Ditko stuff was effective because Doc was presented as an apprentice still learning the trade and was often beset by more powerful enemies (Nightmare, Dormammu.) Once the Ancient One died and Doc graduated to Master of the Mystic Arts, there was no sense of him being the underdog anymore and I know that whenever I read a Doc comic the instances in which Doc could utter an incantation to get out of a tight spot versus the instances where he couldn't seemed to be completely arbitrary.

    Restructuring magic for Marvel might be as simple as giving Doc a definite energy limit, or as complex as limiting the types of spells he can cast, but something needs to be done."
    If you read the comics you see that there are rules and boundaries. I expect the MCU will also establish their own set of boundaries that they want to apply in the films.
    Last edited by Clea; 04-22-2021 at 04:00 PM.
    Live Faust, Die Jung.

  14. #674

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clea View Post
    Marvel's answer has been to depower him significantly so that they can use him along side the Avengers and other non-magical characters. A good writer can still show him "exploring the uncanny beings that linger on the fringes of our rational world" as you put it, and still have him work with the Avengers against major, non-magical threats. Not every story needs to be about Strange vanquishing Dormammu or Shuma Gorath again, but neither should those foes be forgotten because they're always out there trying to take over the Earth dimension. Depower Strange too much, and what happens to his ability to defend the Earth against Dormammu (or who knows, even against the Vishanti should they decide that they no longer need to ally with the Earth dimension)? How do writers keep the character just consistent enough with his past history, and yet freshen him up for new stories and different kinds of opponents?
    That's because modern writers focus too much on WHAT he can do, not WHY.

    There's a lovely issue of ASTRO CITY where we meet the personal assistant of that universe's equivalent to Doctor Strange, the Silver Adept. Without ANY explanation of her power level, we see how she defends reality without being deus-y.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albert1981 View Post
    Here's a comment I found SUPPORTING Marvel's position on magic:

    "Restructuring magic for Marvel might be as simple as giving Doc a definite energy limit, or as complex as limiting the types of spells he can cast, but something needs to be done."
    But Tony Stark? Free pass.

  15. #675
    Astonishing Member Albert1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clea View Post
    If you read the comics you see that there are rules and boundaries. I expect the MCU will also establish their own set of boundaries that they want to apply in the films.
    I trust your opinions and knowledge completely when it comes to Strange. I can't wait for your recommendations after this pandemic has passed. I believe you would not be as big a fan of Strange if he didn't follow certain rules and stayed within specific boundaries. I always thought Stephen was a cool character even though I didn't know him too well. And back when I first found out about him he was not a deus ex machina type character. May I ask, when did Marvel come up with this "Dr. Strange is God and magic can do almost anything it's too hard to write whinewhinewhine" perspective? What's so hard about re-reading the classics (Ditko, Englehart, Stern) that you speak of to get inspiration? I don't get it!

    I just don't want to read Strange stories where there are 19 pages of the Doctor getting his butt kicked and then one page at the end where things get fixed with the same "magic" that he had been using in the first 19 pages.
    Last edited by Albert1981; 04-22-2021 at 05:41 PM.

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