Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Long, long ago, when comics were cheap, comic heroines weren't lightboxed porn stars, and heroes teamed up without a bigass black banner across the cover; Dr. Strange wasn't a godlike figure with powers of reality-shifting and too much exposition. Instead, he was the go-to guy for everyone in the Marvel U. when weird crap went down. I can kind of see how this might hurt his own book, because why should you cough up for Doc's solo adventures, when you can just wait around for him to turn up in Spectacular Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, Excalibur, Hulk...and those are just the guest spots I can think of off the top of my head.

But if a teammate's soul has been sucked out of him, or another teammate spontaneously turns into a vampire, or you've got bad luck well outside the realm of possibility, who else are you going to go to? Shaman from Alpha Flight? Pfft, no. He's Canadian. Also, he does the answer-a-question-with-a-question thing more than even Strange. Dr. Druid? Yeah, he's like the Dr. Nick of magic. No thanks.

I thought it was amusing, in the recent preview for the new Dr. Strange series, that Iron Fist and Arana were in the Night Nurse's waiting room, where 10, 15 years ago, the line was for Strange. Back then, weird stuff was more of the norm than heroes getting seriously stabbed, shot, or hamstrung.

And the guy in the hat and trenchcoat looks a lot like the Phantom Stranger, stopping by for tea.

Anyway. In this one, the Black Cat has tried, and failed repeatedly, to get into Strange's house, and kick his ass. The bad luck powers the Kingpin gave her (how? why? Um...look, I got who and what for you. And where, the Kingpin's tower. You can figure out the rest...) were causing bad luck to come crushing down on Spider-Man. Well, in a manner of speaking. For most people, bad luck would be say, being squozen to death by a falling air conditioner in late September. For Spidey, it would be a million little things, like drinks spilled on him, leaks in the roof, 117 missed coin tosses in a row. Spidey wisely goes to Strange, who fixes this string of bad luck, which in turn jams up Felicia's powers at a crucial moment. And wrecks her hair and costume...oh, no, sorry, that was her.

Let's consider Felicia's de-powering for a minute: she had been given bad luck powers that made her pretty much unstoppable. Nothing could attack her without something bad happening before touching her: even automated defenses would malfunction and break when the Black Cat passed. (The Kingpin, however, knew as long as he only made defensive moves, he would be unharmed. Again, don't ask how this worked. Really.)

The Cat quickly became cocky about her powers, and would nonchalantly stroll up to danger and laugh at it. (I don't have the comics in question in front of me, but Peter David made it a pretty memorable scene.) Faced with several punkish thugs, Felicia dares one to punch her in the face, because she can see a ceiling fan above him already starting to unscrew: the goon will swing, and the fan will cave his head in, leaving Felicia free and clear.

Or she would've been, if Spider-Man wasn't at Dr. Strange's right then getting the whammy taken off him, a service Strange also offers for many professional sports franchises. It cancels her powers, and the goon clobbers the Cat. As the issue ends, it looks like she's probably going to be at the very least badly beaten, if not worse. Felicia is forced to fight her way out tooth and nail, and she rallies, then brutalizes her attackers. Later, when she finds out from Peter what happened, she's pretty pissed, even though her powers were making his life miserable. I may have to dig those up later, since there was some interesting development there.

Better than the Kevin Smith series, anyway...although there was one thing I did like about that, that was done in a halfassed manor, and led to something else stupid. Probably not the event you might think of, although that too was shoddy and halfassed. Anyway, I had planned something else for today, but it'll keep. I'm off to watch, and probably be annoyed by, Lost...

From Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #117, "Dinner Hour" Written by Peter David, art by Rich Buckler, Dwayne Turner, Bob McLeod, Del Barras, Keith Williams, and Josef Rubinstein.

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