(I just totally made up that fake Spanish-sounding word. But I’m owning it)
It’s been 2.5 weeks since our last post and I was starting to feel guilty. So here’s yet another PODCAST ADDENDUM, providing you, dear readers (and listeners) with some useful extras to supplement your listening experience of our recent episode “Evil Priestess Obsession”, which can be found here:
OR, if you’re not using Podbean, a podcatcher of your choice is sure to have the episode as well.
But enough inane blathering! Onto the episode in question –
Once again, the boys at ItW are looking at the wonderfully weird world of Doctor Stephen Strange, specifically MARVEL PREMIERE issues 5 and 6, written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Irv Wesley, Sal Buscema, and Frank Brunner, with covers by the great Mike Ploog. Issue 5 picks up from our last Doc Strange discussion (Episode 7) where Stephen found himself trapped in the Lovecraftian town of Innsmouth… er, I mean Starkesboro. This time around the Doc has to escape the slimy claws of elder god Sligguth and his bosom buddy The Shambler from the Sea, not to mention the vile but oh so alluring clutches of Cthonic Priestess Ebora, the servant of the dreaded SHUMA GORATH. That’s right, weirdlings, this is the first time we read the name of Shuma Gorath in comics, courtesy of writer Gardner Fox, who was well-read in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos as well as the Hyborian Deities appearing in the fictions of Robert E. Howard. Conversely, issue 5 also features the first appearance of the Vishanti in comics. Quite a milestone.
Now, without further adieu, feast your eyes on the pages and panels we discussed during the course of the episode* –
(*Note: All images posted are the sole property of Marvel comics, and are used here only to review, critique, and generate a discussion)
Firstly, the covers!
Mike Ploog’s art is suitably eerie and evokes a sense of dread in both images, as Stephen is clearly in dire peril at the hands of menacing monstrosities.
Next we’ll be looking at some of the interior panels from issue 5, showcasing the cartoony art of Irv Wesley:
Witness the introduction of Ebora, a great villainess; one of my favorites (what can I say; I have a weakness for evil priestessess, especially in film)
The next panel proves that you can’t keep a good doctor down. Especially if he’s had a hard day at the office/ER/clinic/whatever
Stephen is assaulted and almost perishes at the hands of the subhuman inhabitants of Starkesboro. The effect of the horror is muted however, by Irv Wesley’s cute little creatures reminiscent of Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows.
Below we see the abduction of the Ancient One and the reintroduction of Clea to the series. As she IS one of the most stunning women in the Marvel Universe, I have no reason to complain about any of the panels containing her. If only Gardner Fox had allowed her to come into her own in these issues, this storyline would have been a stand-out.
And here we have it – the first appearance of the Vishanti. From left to right: Oshtur, Hoggoth, and Agamotto.*
*It should be noted that at times Hoggoth is credited as having a Lion-like appearance, and Agamotto then looks vaguely humanoid. At other times Agamotto appears as a huge ant or a beetle. The point is, except for the beautiful Oshtur, their appearances are constantly in flux)
Ebora channels an angry Mera as she flings herself into the sea, intent upon giving Stephen a bloody death. Oh god, I think I’m in love…
During the episode Billy likened Ebora to the great British actress Barbara Steele, who appeared in numerous horror films during the 1960s, and even later in films such as David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975).
Here she is, weirdlings. The one and only Barbara Steele. Oh, and watch Black Sunday. You won’t regret it.
And now, on to issue 6:
Below we see Stephen besting and killing Sligguth by closing his gills. Brutal. The art by Frank Brunner and Sal Buscema is superlative, as is expected.
And finally we see the Shambler exiting his submerged hidey-hole upon the death of his old pal Sligguth. Just look at those finger apertures. Disturbing.
And here we see Ebora, doing what she does best. If I ever get the chance to write Doctor Strange, I’d bring her back in a second. Countless stories are already springing to life in my mind, featuring her.
And now we get to Billy’s favorite panel, where Stephen’s face is reflected in the huge black orb that is the eye of N’Gabthoth, the Shambler from The Sea. An amazing image, to be sure. Well spotted, Billy.
And finally – Ah, Johnny Frames, we hardly knew ye. Will we ever know what prompted the creators to insert you into this tale? Possibly never.
And I’m fine with that.
And that’s it for this ADDENDUM post. Thanks for reading and listening, Weirdosas! Now go and read some Bronze Age Doctor Strange comics. Yes, that’s an order. Vamónos!