Strange Tales 162, 163
Story: Jim Lawrence and Dan Adkins
Art: Dan Adkins
I was expecting Nebulos to take up several issues and be a longer arc. It ended up being a very tight storyline across two issues with great action and art. Out of nowhere Jim Lawrence and Dan Adkins were responsible for these two issues. There isn’t much information on the internet about these two. It looks like this was Dan Adkins first stint on Marvel comics and he would continue to work on Dr. Strange. Jim Lawrence seems to have only worked on the next couple issues before moving on to some other profession entirely. That’s too bad because these two worked well here.
Issue 162 picks up where we left off. The newly introduced Victoria Bentley and Dr. Strange are confronted by the entity known as Nebulos. Strange explains Earth’s peril and that he needs help. Nebulos has his own evil plans but Earth staying around is part of that. So he imbues Dr. Strange his power in the form of a large tree branch looking staff and he is immediately transported back to Earth. With very limited time in the hourglass before the Living Tribunal eradicates the planet, he confronts Baron Mordo once again. With the power of Nebulos, all of Mordo’s spells are ineffective and are absorbed into the staff. Strange is able to easily defeat Mordo and banish him to another dimension yet again.
I love this panel above where Mordo is now drifting in exile, contemplating what just happened. Strange had come back so soon with so much power and all of his plans collapsed. So with Mordo gone Dr. Strange returns to the site of the hourglass just moments before the grains of sand finish falling. The Living Tribunal appears and still declares that Earth must be destroyed because the great evil energy exists. Strange is confused as he thought Mordo contained that power and was now removed. Turns out all of that energy had instead just transferred into the staff he was holding. At that moment Nebulos calls both of them back to his dimension.
The next issue is a confrontation on a planetary scale. The Living Tribunal is not happy about being summoned or the power grab that Nebulos is making. So they begin duking it out. Dr. Strange is really powerless in this situation, he ends up just trying to survive. It’s also worth noting that Victoria Bentley is absent when they returned and only Nebulos knows where she is. So while he would like the Living Tribunal to win this epic duel, he needs that information.
While the fight initially takes place between the two god-like entities, the Living Tribunal grows frustrated at his inability to harm Nebulous directly. So he does the next best thing which is to literally destroy the planet. Lots of fun art here as mountains are obliterated and Strange is barely keeping up and escaping death.
The battle ends as Nebulos is caught under a collapsing cliff and is buried alive by his own planet. In that event he also loses grip of his powerful Staff of Polar Power and Strange is able to retrieve it. I didn’t see a body to confirm the death though so I bet this isn’t the last we see of Nebulos. The Living Tribunal is content with Strange offering the staff to him and once again bringing balance to the universe. As a favor the Living Tribunal gives Strange information on where Victoria Bentley could be.
That is really convenient because the only other guy who knew is presumed dead. So we leave the issue not knowing what has happened to the newly introduced heroine but we will soon find out. I’m a fan of the Living Tribunal and his three rotating heads and look forward to future stories involving him. I didn’t get enough time with Nebulos to form an opinion on him as a villain and I’m curious if another writer down the road will bring him back.