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Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #33: Review

Sep 1991
Roy Thomas, Chris Marrinan

Story Name:

The Alexandria quatrain

Review & Comments

4 stars

Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #33 Review by (April 16, 2021)
Roy and Dann Thomas as usual co-wrote the main tale.
It's title is probably meant to echo Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet novels, where the final novel is coincidentally called Clea after 1 of the characters.
(It has also been suggested that the word Shamblu is an echo of C L Moore's Shambleau short story.)

The main story is a tie-in to Infinity Gauntlet. It is unclear at which point in IG#4 Dr Strange returns from his time-trip. If it's straight after he left then it seems Thanos needn't have worried about him undoing the time-freeze. And DrS also doesn't manage to save any of the heroes from death (except as revealed next issue Scarlet Witch).

Roy Thomas is indulging a favourite pastime here and in the backup tale of tying in old threads.
As mentioned DrS met Zota and Cleopatra before in Strange Tales #124 which for them is in their future. These are Zota's only apps, but Cleo has also met Iron Man in Tales Of Suspense #44 (and has been in some pre-Marvel comics).

Dr Druid's origin was originally told in Amazing Adventures (1961) #1 where he was called Dr Droom and appeared in 4 other issues. His tales were reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales et al with his name changed to Dr Druid, and he continued under that name in Hulk #209 and many other issues. But it was only in Marvel Spotlight #37 (also written by Roy & Dann) that he and we learned that the Tibetan lama in his origin was the Ancient One, and Dr Droom/Druid was a test run for Dr Strange.
Dr Druid mentions a time-bubble and treating the Avengers badly, and these are related. DrD joined the Avengers in their #278 after helping them in the Av Under Siege arc. Later he fell under the spell of 1 of the alternate timeline version's of Kang's love Ravonna who pretended to be Thanos' 'granddaughter' Nebula and became 1 of the Council Of Cross-Time Kangs. She persuaded him to mentally compel the Avengers to make him their Chairman as part of a plan to get a super-weapon from the Bubble At The Heart Of Time. But it all went wrong and the naughty duo got trapped in there. They both escaped in MSpot#37 and along the way Druid got rejuvenated to much younger than he was when he 1st got his powers (but he didn't lose them).
Since then he's appeared with many others in Quasar #23-25 in the Cosmos In Collision arc. And he'll hang around here for the rest of the IG tie-ins.

There's lots of stuff thrown into the backup tale.

The Dweller In Darkness and his minions were invented by Gerry Conway to fight Hercules and Thor in Thor #229-230. Roger Stern borrowed them in DrS(1974)#30 and named the minions Shade-Thralls, and the Dweller set about inspiring the Great Fear. The DID sent Dream Weaver against DrS in #32-33, Ludi in #35 and Ningal in #36-37 but then gave up after causing Strange to doubt his own abilities. And that's it apart from a a cameo in a backup tale in Fantastic Four Annual #23 until his apps in this Book Of Vishanti backup arc.

The Dweller's involvement with Mr Fear and his pre-history with Zhered-Na and the surface Atlantis are invented here, but he is shown in DrS(1974)#30 waking from the 'sleep' Z-N is described here as subjecting him to. He does describe Nightmare as his cousin in #32 but Everinnye and their joint origin there is new here. The DID also met D'Spayre in #32 but made no mention there of creating him. D'Spayre's connection with Dakimh and causing Z-N's death was mentioned in his 1st app in Marvel Team-Up #68.

All the Fear Lords will next be in the Great Fear arc in #38-40 where DrS will be aided against them by the Scarecrow/Straw Man.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #33 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Dr Strange's Greenwich Village Sanctum Pip The Troll is fed up hanging with around watching Doc in a mystic trance with no-one to talk to because he's sent Doc's assistant Rintrah to get some beers. So he starts talking to himself, helpfully bringing us up to speed.

In Infinity Gauntlet #3 Stephen Strange portalled a load of heroes to the space throne palace Thanos built for his love Death. Some have been sent to attack the Titan directly while the others have been scattered around the place. Pip claims DrS is here as a mystic anchor for them all, but in IG#3 it said he would telepathically monitor what was happening and keep Adam Warlock (who's busy elsewhere) updated, and he'd retrieve any heavily-wounded combatants. He and we can see the attack via the magically enlarged Eye Of Agamotto.

Many many light years away Thanos prepares to freeze his assailants in time (at the start of IG#4). But before he does he casually gets rid of Strange who might be able to reverse his action. With a clap of his hands he sends a temporal maelstrom to carry the Sorcerer away. Pip keeps clear but Stephen's lover Clea rushes in to grab him, and gets dragged away with him.

The maelstrom is whirling them backwards through time. DrS tries to get a purchase on the centuries whipping past. With a spell he manages to plant a hook on something magical but it requires Clea's (diminished since she's no longer Queen of the Dark Dimension) mystic power added to his to get them out of the timestorm and into somewhen.

Initially they are blinded by a light, but when his eyes clear Stephen recognises the giant Lighthouse Of Pharos, 1 of the 7 Wonders Of The Ancient World in Alexandria, Egypt (completed sometime after 280 BC and destroyed by earthquakes leading up to 1323 AD). This is obviously early in its lifetime and Strange reckons that the magic that he hooked onto is the large collection of mystic scrolls in the fabled Library Of Alexandria. Legend has it that the Library was burned down in 48 BC during Julius Casear's civil war with Pompey. And would you believe it they see a building on fire with scraps of burning papyrus floating in the air. Clea grabs 1 and recognises a minor Faltine incantation  on it. But the Sorcerer Supreme wonders what source of magic did he detect here if the Library's magic tomes are all destroyed.

They levitate to the Royal palace where they see a war going on between Egyptian and Roman soldiers. But they are spotted by a magician called Zota of Pergamum, and we learn that Ceasar is interfering in a separate Egyptian civil war between Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra VII (*the* Cleopatra we've all heard about), and Zota's on Ptolemy's side while Caesar supports Cleo. (The situation is complicated by the then-common arrangement that Cleopatra is also Ptolemy's wife and co-ruler, which this comic doesn't mention.)

Our duo burst in upon Caesar and Cleopatra. Stephen is confused that Cleo doesn't recognise him from Strange Tales #124. But then he realises that she was with Mark Antony then and so that must be about 10 years in the future. He remembers that he met her in modern New York where she'd been sent by Zota. Cleo tells them that the fire was just a dockside export warehouse for grain and books, and Stephen remembers that other sources say that the Library was in existence centuries later and suffered a slow decline. So he and Clea fly off follow the mystic emanations to find it.

And find it they do. The Sorcerer uses a spell to seek out the Scroll Of The Vishanti, but when he locates it he turns round to see Clea trapped by Zota in his Mirror Of Mysteries. He's a bit peeved because he's been searching for that Scroll for months. He threatens to break the mirror with a hammer, killing the woman inside. Clea tells Stephen not to hand over the Scroll, but her lover gives it to him. However as soon as Zota picks it up he's KO'd by a shock. Strange now easily frees Clea and reveals that he figured out the Scroll was hiding from Zota and would refuse to be handled by him. He'll now leave the magician for their next meeting when he will permanently lose all his magic.

The Sorcerer Supreme uses the Scroll to contact an anchor in the 20th Century. Clea wonders who then could have such power. But Stephen releases the Scroll to return to its place in the Library and the duo are whisked forward in time ...

... to be greeted by Pip and Dr Druid, who explains how he recently (Marvel Spotlight #37) escaped from a time-bubble (and emerged much younger) and learned that he had been given his powers by the Ancient One as a test-run for Dr Strange. This is why DrS was able to give him *his* power sent across time to get them home. Now Strange gets back to being an anchor for the heroes attacking Thanos.

Backup tale:- The Book Of The Vishanti: A Gathering Of Fear part 3.

Written by Roy Thomas & Jean-Marc Lofficier. Pencils Larry Alexander. Inks Tim Dzon.

Now it's the turn of the Dweller In Darkness to relate his history to fellow Fear Lords D'Spayre, Kkallakku, the Lurking Unknown, Nightmare and Nox.

He claims that he and Nightmare were both ectoplasmic beings from Everinnye, a universe higher then the 6th Dimension. Nightmare accuses the Dweller of embracing the Way Of The Shamblu (which a Handbook describes as disembodying one's head and existing in physical form). The Dweller points out that Nightmare has also degraded himself by moving to the lower universes.

He says he came to Earth 20,000 years ago when Kamuu and Zartra ruled Atlantis (then on the surface) and were at war with the Deviants of Lemuria, which provided him with a rich source of fear. But the Atlantean sorceress Zhered-Na sent him into a mystic sleep with the help of Agamotto and the Atlantean god Valka. Even in this state he was able to use the surge of fear when Atlantis sank (caused by the Celestials) to create D'Spayre to do his work including causing the death of Zhered-Na. However the sorceress had already trained an immortal successor Dakimh who fought D'Spayre through the ages. But his minion's activities still fed fear to the Dweller, hastening his reawakening.

The Dweller also created other sources of fear including Mr Fear (Zoltan Drago), and things he calls Shade-Thralls which attacked Hercules & Thor and later DrS and Clea. It was that encounter that finally woke the Dweller up, and after that he sent other minions against Strange:- Dream Weaver, Ludi and Ningal.

Nightmare scoffs that all the Dweller's attacks have failed, but the other replies that it's all part of a larger plan that will soon come to fruition. And he invites the other Fear Lords to join him in creating the Great Fear.

Chris Marrinan
Mark McKenna
George Roussos
Chris Marrinan (Cover Penciler)
Mark McKenna (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Pat Brosseau.
Editor: Mike Rockwitz. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Druid
Doctor Druid

(Doctor Droom)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

Plus: Cleopatra, Dweller In Darkness (He Who Dwells in Darkness), D’Spayre, Kkallakku, Lurking Unknown, Nox, Rintrah, Zota.

> Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme: Book info and issue index

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