Sunday, December 4, 2016

Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment

Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment by Roger Stern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every Midsummer's Eve, Doctor Doom tries to rescue his mother's soul from hell and every year he fails. This time, he has Doctor Strange in tow. Will the two of them be successful? Let's find out!

Back in the day, I read a Fantastic Four annual in which Doctor Doom tried to use Franklin Richards against Mephisto to free the soul of his mother. When I found out about the existence of this graphic novel, I became intrigued... then forgot about it until a couple weeks ago.

The story starts out promisingly. Doctor Strange is summoned to the Temple of the Three where he battles other sorcerers for the title of Sorcerer Supreme and winds up forced to give Doctor Doom a boon. Strange instructs Doom in the magic arts for a few weeks and they head down to hell.

I'm happy to say that this graphic novel by Roger Stern and Mike Mignola does a great job standing the test of time. Stern's writing is way ahead of the curve for the time period and Mignola was heading down the artistic trail that would lead him to creating Hellboy years later. Mignola's hellish vistas resemble Steve Ditko's without being an outright copy and his depiction of Mephisto in his true form knocks the ball out of the park.

Triumph and Torment also had enough twists to keep it interesting, far from the two guys punching each other it could have easily devolved into.

Also contained in this volume were two stories containing seeds for this tale. One was from an issue of Astonishing Tales that depicted one of Doom's failed attempts to rescue his mother. The other was a Doctor Strange tale where Doctor Doom considered filling the vacancy left by Clea and becoming Strange's disciple. Neither were essential but gave the plot of the main story a little more depth. As opposed to the two Namor tales in the collection that had little to do with the story other than being drawn by Mignola.

Since I suspect a lot of people will be giving Doctor Strange a shot based on the upcoming Cumberbatch-fest, this would be a good tale to read to see Strange in his element. Four out of five stars.

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