One of the things you have to give Barry Smith about his early Marvel career is he clearly didn't believe in outstaying his welcome. Apart from his two-year stint on Conan, if he started to draw one of your favourite titles, you could be pretty much sure it wouldn't be long before he stopped drawing it. Daredevil, Ka-Zar and the Avengers all saw him managing noticeably short stints on them before vanishing without trace, and so it was with Dr Strange.
On his way home from wherever it is he's been, Dr Strange is almost run over by a lorry but saves himself with a quick burst of the old, "Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth."
But, returning to his Sanctum Sanctorum, he senses an evil presence.
Before long, he's in a world gone weird, his body's been possessed and he's up against an unknown foe.
Armed with this knowledge, he soon disposes of the threat and makes a full recovery - but not before discovering there are darker forces than even Nightmare behind it all.
It's a nice tale and beautifully drawn by Smith. The writing too seems more sophisticated than we sometimes credit Stan Lee with being capable of. No one's credited with the story's colouring, so I'm assuming it was supplied by Smith who does some rather lovely things with red and black at certain points in the tale.
To be honest, even though I read the good Doctor's adventures avidly every week in Marvel UK's Avengers mag, I remember virtually none of his stories, which can't be a good sign.
However, along with Steve Ditko's early haunted house tale, this is the one that's always lodged itself in my memory, which suggests it must have been a cut above the average.
The only disappointment is that Smith hung around for just two issues before being replaced by a whole string of other artists just after he'd launched the somewhat repetitive Shuma-Gorath storyline which seemed to consist mostly of Strange going to seaside towns to be threatened by vaguely identikit watery menaces. Given how stylish a start to it he'd made - and just how suited he was to the strip - it would've been nice to have seen just what Smith would have done had he managed to see the whole project through from start to finish.
Keep Those Things Away From Me - Novel
1 year ago