Marvel Premiere #3: Doctor Strange (1972)

"While the World Spins Mad" is the only collaboration between Stan Lee and artist Barry Smith (pre Windsor-), and one of the very few comics of the Silver/Bronze Ages where both the writer and artist were headlined on the cover. In fact, I’m having trouble thinking of another comic from that time which mentioned both writer and artist. Maybe some issue of Fantastic Four mentioned Stan & Jack, but it wasn’t common. So this gives the reader the feeling that something special was about to happen.
 
And the story inside is pretty special. It feels a bit dated for its time, but the tale of a world-weary Doctor Strange falling victim to one of his greatest enemies, Nightmare, is actually quite entertaining. Stan’s writing is melodramatic as ever – "We? Do not speak of we to Dr. Strange! I am no part of one who would surrender. Let the madness fight on! I fight till I fall!" – but it at least fits the melodramatic figure of Doctor Strange, who’s the most erudite Marvel character this side of Asgard.
 
And the Barry Smith art here is awfully nice, too. It’s illustrative without being overwhelming, with some nice art deco touches that are surprising. He’s terrific at displaying the increasing desperation of Doc Strange, doing a wonderful job of conveing the surrealistic intensity of the battle.
 
Is this comic a big deal? Yeah, why not? There may have been better Doctorn Strange comics, and better comics written by Stan Lee or illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. But the combination of all three is a pretty damn neat combination for a comic book.
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