Top 5 on The Strip: Dr. Strange foes

Baron Mordo — Baron Mordo started as Strange’s competition to become an apprentice to the Ancient One. Because of jealousy, Mordo eventually betrayed the duo leading Strange to take the position and in time become the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Mordo led a life of crime as a regular foe of Strange but later turned over a new leaf and fought a cancer diagnosis.

Dormammu — The dread lord has been a longtime adversary of Strange. Dormammu rules over the Dark Dimension, which he conquered by force and by overthrowing the established leader. He has challenged Strange many times in an attempt to take over the Earth realm but has lost. He is a being of immense power and a master of chaotic magic.

 

Mephisto — Basically, Mephisto can pose as the Devil, but he is not Satan and does not rule over Hell. He is a ruler of a hell dimension and has established himself as a broker of souls. Mephisto, father of Marvel stalwart Blackheart, is responsible for the the creation of Ghost Rider.

 

Nightmare — Nightmare rules over the Nightmare World in the Dimension of Dreams. He is capable of manipulating the dreams of humans and gaining control over them. Nightmare is a demon attempting to take over the realm of the awake.

 

Shuma-Gorath — Shuma-Gorath is one of a race of creatures — known collectively as Shuma-Gorath — that take the shape of a cycloptic tentacled eye. In Strange’s time, Shuma-Gorath attempts to enter the mainstream dimension through the mind of the Ancient One. This results in Strange having to kill his master to prevent Shuma-Gorath’s manifestation. Shuma-Gorath again tries after Strange absorbs him and begins to turn into him. It is eventually killed but resurrects itself through Chaos Magic.

Marvel character highlight #10: Dr. Strange

NAME: Stephen Vincent Strange

AFFILIATION: Avengers, Squadron Supreme, Defenders

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Overall, the most Supreme mastery of magic and mystical energies than anyone else on Earth. Astral projection, telepathic communication and possession of mystical objects that enable flight as well as invisibility.

BACKGROUND: Stephen Strange was a master surgeon who was brilliant yet arrogant. Strange injured his hands, depriving him of his livelihood. Using all of his money and resources, Strange went broke and became an alcoholic. Seeking a cure to restore the use of his hands, Strange journeyed to Tibet and met with the Ancient One. Strange stayed for years, training alongside Baron Mordo in a competition to succeed the Ancient One as sorcerer supreme of Earth. When Mordo revealed himself as a traitor, Strange took the position as apprentice. After the Ancient One died, Strange took on the full title and position.

RELATIONSHIPS: Ancient One, mentor; Clea, lover

FIRST VERSUS GAME APPEARANCE: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

APPEARANCES IN OTHER MEDIA: Marvel Ultimate Alliance (multiplatform), The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear), Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (SNES), Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (PC), X-Men the Animated Series (television), Spider-Man the Animated Series (television), Dr. Strange (film), Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme (animated film)

Otaku Corner #09: Death Note Vol. 4

Death Note Vol. 4 slows action

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Readers, welcome back to Otaku Corner. In this issue we continue to look at the worldwide smash manga series “Death Note.” For those that have just started to read Otaku Corner and Death Note, I would like to get you up to speed.

Death Note is the perfect blend of gothic horror fused with an intriguing storyline in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, only this time it is in manga form. So far, I have reviewed three volumes of Death Note and took some time off to only review other animated series to keep from exhausting Death Note. So, hold one and get ready: Your friendly neighborhood otaku will once again present to you a battle of wits between high school achiever Light Yagami and ace detective L, two chosen men brought together by the Death Note, a notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light aka Kira, who has one copy of the death note, vows to rid the world of violent criminals, while L vows to stop Kira’s numerous killing sprees and restore justice.

In the fourth volume of Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, we last left L (aka Ryuzaki) and Light (Kira) recovering from an attack on TV news personalities. Light’s father, a top officer in Japan’s National Police Agency, was instrumental in uncovering evidence at a local TV station of a second Kira. As a result, the two dueling geniuses called a truce to track down the second Kira, who is later revealed as Misa Amane, a up-and-coming model/actress who not only has her own death note, but the shinigami with her, Rem, has given her the ability to see people’s true identities. The drawback is that it would cost half of her lifespan.

Light, as a member of Ryuzaki’s team and Kira, is found quickly by Misa who offers to help him kill L in exchange for Light becoming her boyfriend. Light, at first, tries to threaten Misa with death, but Rem threatens to kill if any harm falls upon Misa. At the same time, Light tries to balance life as Kira, an investigator and college student while plotting to kill L. When Misa arrives at Light’s college and tells him L’s real name, Light seems ready to declare victory. However, L’s wits strike again as Misa is taken into custody by the NPA and is held by L in an undisclosed location.

Light, noting that the odds are against him, acts on his plan to keep suspicion from himself and Misa by begging Ryuzaki to confine him for a period of time. Light’s father, Socihiro, protests Light’s decision, which results in him requesting confinement as well. L agrees to Soichiro’s request except that his confinement would be different in that Sochiro would still have access to information, while Light is separated and cut off.

DN Vol. 4 keeps all of the thrills and mystery intact, complete with the psychological tactics that L and Light use, which are associated with high risk and high rewards. L decides to go underground to protect himself, while Light, who has a an ally in Misa, ponders if she is either a liability or an asset to his plans as Kira.

Obata’s illustrations are still top notch, capturing every character’s emotion, while at the same time Obha’s story line remains flawless by keeping the fusion of supernatural and mystery elements intact. I also like the backstory to Misa in how she received her death note and Rem via another shinigami’s death in which Rem killed her stalker. In short, the fourth volume of Death Note, while short on high-octane action, continues its lure of preparing readers for the next action-filled volume.

Volume 4 has take a break from the fast-paced action and focuses mainly on emotions, yet continues the strong pace of supernatural horror and mystery. You should be warned that the action and mind games will pick up again in its high-paced style with even more twists and turns that will keep you guessing who has who. My fellow otaku, come back to “Otaku Corner” for more Death Note reviews. A piece of advice: be wary of the gothic blondes. They are VERY possessive.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Property review: Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme

Photo courtesy of the Marvel wikia

Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme

Lionsgate, 2007

Dr. Strange DVD conjures fine story

Dr. Strange is strange, indeed. He’s got the potential to be a top-tier character, yet he’s not out there for Marvel that much. However, he has received the animated movie treatment like most of the peripheral Avengers so he has some prominence. And his film isn’t that bad.

Dr. Strange takes some time getting into. Starting off slow, the film handles Strange’s backstory with care, mixing in different parts from the mainstream and Ultimates incarnations. We see how Strange is at the top of his game, loses everything and hits rock bottom and finally becomes Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. In his journey, Strange learns to care about others and that money and position in life aren’t everything. Even though Strange has one of the most cliché tales, especially involving a friend-turned-foe, the story isn’t bad and it’s paced pretty well. The addition of the backstory involving his sister’s death is slightly weird, since it’s not in the actual comics. While it gives Strange some emotional depth and makes him more relatable than his comic counterpart, it’s not actually necessary.

What really makes the film worth watching is its voice acting cast. The voices chosen are perfect. With Kevin Michael Richardson among them, the cast is pitch perfect and almost could have been considered for the same roles in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (ed’s note: Richardson does make an appearance in MvC3, not as Baron Mordo but as Galactus). Bryce Johnson, as the voice of Strange, is also excellent. There are a few more well-known names such as Phil LaMarr, Marvel stalwart Fred Tatasciore and Tara Strong that round out the strong cast.

Also standout is the quality of the animation. The characters animate beautifully and the lines and style are clean. It’s in the same vein as The Avengers movies, but look better than Hulk Versus.

Dr. Strange is an interesting character, and his animated feature provides a decent-if-not-cliché look at his memorable background and struggle to become something greater than himself. Give it a go if Strange’s tale of might and magic will intrigue you.

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Like the comics?: 6

Casting: 9.5

Plot: 8

Overall: 23.5/30 or 7.8

Strip Talk #10: Just where did Charles Xavier go wrong?

Lyndsey Mosley, editor in chief

Charles Xavier: Former leader of the X-Men, founder of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Morally ambiguous leader who mind wipes foes. Yes, Xavier is capable of great things and then there’s that tendency for him to get into the dark side of his humanity and kill people.

Just where did Xavier go wrong?

First, let’s examine the good that came from Xavier’s actions. In creating the X-Men, his strikeforce for perpetuating the good of mutantkind, Xavier gave a home to and helped many a mutant with a tragic background. These people may not have had any other place to go, killed themselves or others if not for the benevolence of the professor. However, there’s two sides to every story and Xavier didn’t always practice what he preached in taking in wayward mutants.

The list of questionable actions arising from the creation of the X-Men didn’t come to light until much later, and when it did, Xavier had to pay. I mean, who does things such as: tamper with a mutant’s mind to prevent their assassination (Wolverine); let a sentient being remain enslaved while knowing they are capable of advanced thought and feelings (Danger Room); tell a mutant for years that he can help them when he really can’t (Rogue); and erase the memory of fallen comrades that he sent unprepared into the field and who subsequently died solely to cover his tracks (Vulcan, Petra, Sway)? That would be Xavier in a number of story arcs. When even Cyclops and Wolverine are disgusted with you, you have a problem.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love the early character of Xavier. He was modeled after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a personal hero, so there’s much to love about him. However, his problems with lying and secret-keeping are an immediate dealbreaker in terms of character likability. The more recent story arcs seem to be rehabilitating Xavier into a broken-but-honest man. Let’s hope they continue down that path.

Lyndsey Mosley is editor in chief of Gaming Insurrection. She ponders the humanity of the X-Men at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

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