Strange Tales 139-141
Story: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko
Here it is, the final showdown against Baron Mordo and the dreaded Dormammu for the life of the Ancient One and the fate of Earth! This three issue “arc” has Dr. Strange facing off against each with escalating stakes. Strange’s immediate concern when he arrives back on Earth is the Ancient One’s health under his imprisonment from Mordo. Relieved, he finds the Ancient One waking up from Mordo’s spell and informs him that he found Eternity but there was no great power. The Ancient One tells him it’s okay, the final chapter is not yet written and that he will do what he can to assist Strange in this duel. Mordo is idling next to them while this is happening which is a nice of him, but he has had enough exposition and is ready to begin their duel to the death.
Dormammu is on his hovering mystical television screen during the duel, once again channeling is own strength in Mordo. They exchange magical blows back and forth with Strange slowly losing. At one point Dr. Strange creates an illusion of his astral projection, making Mordo think he can actually control both forms at once. He exhausts himself thinking there are two opponents and Dormammu scolds him for being so foolish. Enraged, Mordo gets sloppy and the Ancient One assists Strange as he can now get strike after strike into Mordo weakening him.
Mordo pleads with Dormammu to grant him more power but Dormammu is fed up. He decides to take this matter into his own hands, literally. He transports all three of the Sorcerers into a nexus of dimensions. Dormammu puts the mindless ones who constantly attack his dimension to sleep temporarily allowing him to leave to the nexus as well.
Once there, he summons various sorcerers across dimensions to witness this showdown. He challenges Strange to combat, with the prize being Earth and the supreme voice in the highest council of the known dimensions. Strange reluctantly agrees and so they are both armed with enchanted Pincers of Power and cannot use spells or incantations during the fight. So they begin, using martial arts with is something I didn’t think two mighty sorcerers would do. For a while Dormammu is winning but Strange eventually reverses and puts him in a hold. Mordo takes the opportunity to interfere and zaps Strange with a spell knocking him out!
Dormammu is furious with Mordo, explaining that he was just toying with Strange and that Mordo has ruined the sanctity of the trial. He banishes Mordo to the dimension of demons to pay for his actions. Strange is allowed to recover and resume the fight. In his weakened state he can barely fend off a fury of blows but is able to spot a split second window where he is able to lock their pincers together and disarm Dormammu, giving him a nice finishing uppercut in spectacular fashion. Strange is declared the winner and the Earth is safe for now.
Dormammu is disgraced and enraged. Everyone is thrust back to their dimensions and without giving Strange a moment to rest he reveals he has taken the white haired woman who helped Strange in earlier encounters hostage in revenge. Distraught, he wants to immediately travel back and help her but the Ancient One tells him it must wait. There is more urgent business on Earth as Mordo has left evil enchantments across the globe that must be destroyed quickly.
Back in Greenwich Village, some of Mordo’s disciples sneak into the Sanctum Sanctorum and plant a bomb inside a burning altar. Strange arrives shortly after, detecting that Mordo’s men were here but have left. Unable to detect the bomb, readers are left wondering the fate of our hero.
I did not expect the showdown with Dormammu to go down like that, but I can see why Stan and Steve wanted to mix it up after a magical showdown with Mordo. It was a little silly, but I like how they have setup several problems for Strange to deal with next.