Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.
You may recall my previous posts on Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Amazing Spider-Man that praised writer Roger Stern, and I’m going to do it again. Stern was one of the more prolific Marvel 1980s writers and one that is truly under appreciated. His memorable run on Doctor Strange was also complimented by great artists like Marshal Rogers and Paul Smith.
In this standalone tale, Doctor Strange was recruited by an order of monks to find the next reincarnation of their spiritual leader. Using his mystical talents, Doctor Stephen Strange found him in the form of Arnie, a greens-keeper for a local golf course. After he passed a few simple tests, Strange believed this young man had natural mystical talents, but his carefree attitude didn’t line up with that of a spiritual leader.
Even the monks were reluctant to accept Arnie, especially since their spiritual leader had never been reincarnated as a Westerner. One of the monks wasn’t keen on his leader being an American boy and was prepared to kill him to purge the experience from his master’s karma. Fortunately, the deadly threat awakened the true spiritual consciousness within Arnie. Showing true wisdom and enlightenment, Arnie forgave his assassin and explained that this reincarnation was necessary so that he could experience western civilization and understand it.
Paul Smith’s compositions are breath-taking, even the simple and mundane capture your eye. The delicate inks by Uncanny X-Men veteran inker Terry Austin add an extra layer of smoothness.
In 22 pages, Stern not only told a complete story, but explored the cultural clash between Eastern and Western philosophies and highlighted a enlightened approach to navigating through the human condition. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any follow-up on Arnie since, so there’s a great storyline waiting for someone to pick up…
Doctor Strange #66 is one of those gems of the 1980s you need to hunt for and add to your own longbox.
Jason Shayer has been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.